Corruption shall never End for as long as Political Appointment Prevails

Corruption shall never End

For as long as Political Appointment Prevails

By Apolinario Villalobos

Political appointments are made for the obvious reason of ensuring support for the appointing official, from the agencies to which the appointees are assigned…nothing else. Such hideous practice is what the Filipinos inherited from the Americans. This historical bit is hinged on the question why the federalism system of government was not included in what the Americans allowed the Filipinos to copy from them. Despite the almost photo-copied Constitution of the Americans, the “centralized” system prevailed – obviously, for tight control via appointment of trusted early political leaders, foremost of whom was the late Manuel A. Roxas, who became the First President of the Republic under the shadow of MacArthur. Roxas was the original pro-American Filipino who praised his mentors to high heavens in his speeches, although other politicians viewed him as a “collaborator” during the WWII.

On March 11, 1947, Philippine Congress with an obvious blessing of the then, President Roxas, amended the Constitution with the following provision, as approved by the people in a plebiscite: “…the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, mineral, coal, petroleum, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprises owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States….”- parity rights of the Americans well-defined in the Philippine Constitution, thanks to Roxas!

Roxas considered American exploitation of the country’s natural resources as “blessings”, out of which he dreamed of “wealth, contentment, peace, and prosperity….” He followed this up with a speech in Plaza Miranda in March 17, 1947, in which he intoned: “We have today our one big chance to convert our native land into an ideal of democracy. Our one chance is to grow and industrialize to reach the firs rank of the nations of the world. We have this chance because of the heroism we displayed in the war (WWII); we have this chance because we have demonstrated by deed our love for freedom. We have earned the gratitude of mankind. We can and will show tomorrow that we deserve that gratitude by plunging courageously ahead in the great tasks we face.” That “tomorrow” in his speech is today where we are now.

Just before he died, Roxas emphasized his pro-American color with a speech at Kelly Theater in the United States in April 15, 1948, in which he said, “…But if war should come, if God in His Supreme Wisdom shall will it that the scourge of war again visit the bewildered peoples of the earth. I am certain of one thing…and it is this, that in case of a new war waged by the aggressor against the forces of freedom and liberty, the American and Filipino soldiers will again fight side by side in the same trenches or in the air in defense of justice, of freedom, and the other principles which we both love and cherish.” In the evening of the day he delivered the speech, he died – alone, as he gasped his last.

Political appointments from then on, proliferated in the government, understandably, to ensure support from the already “awakening” consciousness of Filipinos who were involved in the different affairs of the country. Unfortunately, the tradition was maintained, so that in time, it became part of the country’s “democratic” transformation. Despite the creation of the agencies later, that were concerned with civil service eligibilities, and lately, the development of career path of civil servants, the obviously selfish-tainted practice prevailed. The poor Career Service Officers are left with the “assistant” positions in agencies!

Last days of the President are heydays of appointees as there is a double-timed effort for what many suspect as money making ventures in their agencies where such are possible. Appointees prepare themselves as if they are baggage of the President that he will carry out with him as he steps out of the door of Malacaῆan Palace…they practically become baggage heavy with goodies! Meanwhile, the agencies they abandon are again left to start from scratch. What is worse is the loss of “continuity” in projects and programs as new appointees of the new administration tend to entertain different schemes and views, resulting to abandoned projects because they do not jive with their agenda. This practice results to repainting or dismantling of structures, or abandoning of half-finished ones, to give way to new ones – “new projects” to be financed by new and “bigger” budgets.

Such is the malevolent cycle, and being a cycle, has no end, unless political appointment is stopped.