By Farah G. Decano


I HAVE no proof of this which was merely relayed to me.  However, I am putting it out there for whatever its worth.  I was told that there are key government officials who are retained either by corporations or certain powers-that-be for their future protection.  This practice is illegal because government officials cannot accept paid retainer arrangements in their personal capacities unless there is a law that authorizes them to do so.  We can imagine the potential conflict of interest that would result from a situation like this.  We are hopeful that all local or national department head, or even  regional directors, will be able to identify any trend of favors that are given by their offices to the same group of people.  Beke nemen may “retained,” or rather, may “maintained” officials na pala sa mga opisina nila.

Magmanman tayo.  Parang sa lotto lang, kung palaging iisa ang nanalo, nakakapagduda na may nangyayaring anomalya.  Perhaps the same may be said of some government agencies kapag may tao o grupo na laging napapaboran.

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“She may have appointed me but I am nobody’s tauhan!”

These words spewed by the late Atty. Consuelo Bianca Perez still reverberate in my memory.  Atty. Perez was the fiery daughter of Speaker Eugenio Perez and the famous philanthropist, Dona Consuelo. She vigorously objected to being called the tauhan of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo simply because she was appointed by the latter as Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission.

I cannot agree more. No self-respecting government appointee should consider himself or herself as the appointing power’s henchman or blind follower.  The only way one could repay the person who signed his/her appointment papers is to do the job well. 

Besides, government officials who have been bestowed the power to choose individuals to occupy government positions are obliged by law to select only the most qualified ones.  If the appointees have proven to be competent and honest in their jobs, then any debt of gratitude should already be considered paid.   Appointees should not feel obliged to circumvent the law in order to accommodate any request from the appointing authority.

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The government officials I expect most to be free from any kind of debt of gratitude are the judges.  For what will happen to our justice system if those who are expected to hold the last bastion of democracy and the ones who would level the playing field between poor and the rich, the powerful and the powerless are themselves beholden to whose who had a hand in their appointment?

A friend asked my opinion where she could get an indorsement for her husband who is a judge presently seeking a promotion.  I told her to get indorsements from recognized academicians who have the listening ear of the President.  By no means should she get help from politicians or influence peddlers.  I have heard that those who solicited assistance from politicos and from influence peddlers have been under heavy pressure to return the favor.

I am not saying that all politicians are alike.  I only want to say that this sh*t happens and they have happened to people I know.  They suffer from anxiety and yes, diarrhea.

I cannot forget that my mother who is a former judge has had the same  experience.  A politico who flew to Urdaneta to lobby for a case dangled a Court of Appeals appointment to her.  Yes, he came from across regions riding a helicopter to meet my mother at the justice hall.

True to form, my mother did not budge. She decided according to the merits of the case. She was never appointed to the Court of Appeals even if she was always ranked number one for promotion by the Judicial and Bar Council.

Mama paid the price for her honesty.  She paid it with her ambition. She joins the ranks of Justice Antonio Carpio. I hope all present judges are the same – ready to pay the steep price for the maintenance of their  impartiality and integrity.

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