Public vs. personal interest

via Philippine Inquirer

Did not policemen sign off on their employer’s, the Philippine National Police (PNP), code of conduct?  The shirtless policeman featured on the front page of The Inquirer today apparently has not.

Yes, it’s a free country but there’s also such things as codes of conduct for positions of responsibility. If he’s a security guard in a private agency, go ahead, man.  I’ll cheer you on.  That is, if his firm allows him, because private firms also have their particular rules.

In my previous job at a development agency, among the rules applicable beyond the office that employees had to observe were non-employment of house help who are 18 and below in age and not frequenting certain watering holes. These behavioral rules are consistent with the agency’s V-M-G and values of protecting children and the agency’s public image. Breaking these rules consequentially leads to the employee being shown the door “because apparently this is not the organization for you”.

In other words, if you’re a banker dress the part and if you want to be respected and believed by your clients you have to work in certain ways in order to earn those.  Certain ways most certainly means no parading of your naked body in front of clients.

Similarly, going on the stage in nothing but trunks in the hope of winning the trophy for “male beauty” is short of raising the middle finger at the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713). Let’s briefly review this law.

Policy on standards:

It is the policy of the State to promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest.

Norms of conduct of public officials and employees:

(a) Commitment to public interest. – Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues.

(b) Professionalism. – Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.

(c) Justness and sincerity. – Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. They shall not dispense or extend undue favors on account of their office to their relatives whether by consanguinity or affinity except with respect to appointments of such relatives to positions considered strictly confidential or as members of their personal staff whose terms are coterminous with theirs.

(d) Political neutrality. – Public officials and employees shall provide service to everyone without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference.

(e) Responsiveness to the public. – Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.

(f) Nationalism and patriotism. – Public officials and employees shall at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people, promote the use of locally produced goods, resources and technology and encourage appreciation and pride of country and people. They shall endeavor to maintain and defend Philippine sovereignty against foreign intrusion.

(g) Commitment to democracy. – Public officials and employees shall commit themselves to the democratic way of life and values, maintain the principle of public accountability, and manifest by deeds the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. They shall at all times uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party.

(h) Simple living. – Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.

Clear are they not?

Beyond the personal decision of PO2 Mariano Flormata Jr. to join Mr. Philippines, the question playing on the public’s mind is, was he allowed by his employer? He was apparently.  But how?  And: Is Mr. Philippines-hopeful on the public’s payroll during the time he’s preparing for the pageant and on the pageant night itself?  What if he wins, how will he reconcile the duties of Mr. Philippines with his duties to the public? How will he explain to the public the return of investment on him because isn’t service to community his justification for scholarship when he joined the corps of police cadets? How is a Mr. Philippines title a return of investment?

But what’s really disturbing is the report on PO2 Flormata Jr.’s decision. It’s reported as something which the taxpaying public should be cheerful about.


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