MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III dressed down all “makapal ang mukha (shameless)” public servants during his fourth national address before a joint session of Congress Monday.
“[L]et us be honest: Even today, there are still those in government who seemingly refuse to change. It is disheartening to discover the depth and breadth to which they have branched out in the bureaucracy; the moment we look away, someone is sure to be taken advantage of and victimized,” he said.
He said the “time has come to name names,” and went on to decry the “flawed culture” in the Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs and the National Irrigation Administration.
“The time has come to name names: we have repeatedly admonished the Bureau of Immigration to improve their watch over our ports and airports,” he said.
Aquino wondered how the Reyes brothers of Palawan—former governor Joel Reyes and former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, the principal suspects in the slaying of Puerto Princesa broadcast journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega, were able to slip out of the country.
He also asked how Park Sung Jun, who is wanted in South Korea over an investment scam and was the subject of a manhunt operation by the Bureau of Immigration, was able to sneak out of the country last March 18.
“How could the escape of the Korean Park Sungjun—as blatantly seen in CCTV footage—have taken place?,” he said.
“He is wanted in (South) Korea, and their government asked for our assistance in securing his arrest. How can we face them now, when our own government employees are the ones who enabled his escape?” Aquino said.
Meanwhile, the President said the “make-do” culture at the NIA has “tested our patience.
“Instead of laying out plans for new irrigation systems, they are merely content with the continued rehabilitation of existing irrigation. For them, shoddy repairs are enough to say they have already done a good job,” he said.
But during NIA’s anniversary he said he asked why only 60 percent of the agency’s target was accomplished in 2012, a far cry from 80 percent achieved in 2011.
“The next day, I met with their head during the NEDA Board Meeting. His excuse: 40 percent of the target areas were located in Mindanao and devastated by typhoon Pablo,” he said.
“When were we hit by typhoon Pablo? In the first week of December. Which means that he meant to complete the remaining 40 percent of his tasks in the span of just three weeks. This is the kind of leadership we no longer need in the bureaucracy,” Aquino said.
As for the Bureau of Customs, he said its “personnel are trying to outdo each other’s incompetence.”
“Instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory,” he said.
The Department of Finance estimates that more than P200 billion in government revenue is lost due to smuggling.
“Where do these people get the gall? One can almost hear them say, ‘I don’t care if the weapons go to criminal elements; I don’t care how many lives are ruined by drugs; I don’t care if our fields remain barren forever; What matters is that I am rich; it’s every man for himself’,” he said.
“Such practices have no place in government. If you cannot do your job, you do not deserve to remain in office.”
Aquino said his patience has “run out” as he vowed to pursue and hold accountable all erring officials and employees in government.
“For those employees who refuse to turn their backs on the culture of wang-wang: my patience has run out,” Aquino said in Filipino during his fourth State of the Nation Address.
“You were given three years to demonstrate your readiness to change; now, I shall pursue all of you and hold you accountable. No hard feelings,” he said.
He said he would never stop instituting reforms until the dignity of public service is restored.
Originally posted at 05:43 pm | Monday, July 22, 2013