Journ Classroom

April 26, 2008

A sad day for UP

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 5:13 pm
Tags: ,

It was dusk. The graduation ceremony at the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) was coming to a close. The commencement speaker had said his piece, each of the graduates had been called to the stage, the Chorale had sung, and the cream of the undergraduate and masteral classes had given their responses.

Now it was time to hear from the graduate who had just finished her Ph.D.

She prefaced her speech by asking everyone to applaud her, since unlike her younger counterparts graduating with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, she said, no one had given any expression of approval or acknowledgment of her feat, obtaining the highest degree the institution could give: a doctorate in public administration.

The audience indulged her by clapping, but she didn’t seem satisfied. What she said next stunned some in the audience.

“Palakpakan n’yo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng exemption sa number coding ng MMDA (Applaud me and I will exempt you from MMDA’s number coding scheme)!” blurted Dr Corazon Cruz, Assistant General Manager of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), one of NCPAG’s newest Doctors of Philosophy in Public Administration. As everyone in the audience knows, the MMDA is the agency of government enforcing traffic rules and regulations in Metro Manila, including the number coding scheme that mandates vehicles to stay off the road one day a week depending on the number their license plates ends in.

It sounded amusing and people did chuckle. But the implications of what Dr Cruz said and did eventually sunk in. Here was a government official who had supposedly spent years of study on public administration, trying to offer the audience the incentive (bribe would be more accurate) of an exemption from MMDA rules in exchange for applause. She was telling people she could break the rules if they did her a favor.

“Palakpakan n’yo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng exemption sa number coding ng MMDA!” sounds frighteningly similar to “Iboto nyo ako at libre kayong lahat sa Philhealth!” or even “Iboto nyo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng tax exemption!” The line embodies what people dislike about government.

And what is troubling too is that the people before her were not just any audience. They were graduates of the NCPAG, future public servants and leaders of the Philippine bureaucracy. (more…)


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