Security of Tenure: Boon for Corruption

The noble intention of education for the underprivileged becomes the basis for a mutually-beneficial relationship between the city government and the college, which eventually is upgraded to a university. For the politicians, the university becomes a repository of political appointees and a tool for distributing largesse to their constituencies.  

I’ve never thought of working for or in government. The negative impression was always there even in my youth. But I constantly heard about the civil service exam in my teens among my elders. My generation was transitional. We are probably the last who grew up in households where Spanish words were fused with Tagalog. It took me some time to understand then why most graduates of those born before World War II took the Civil Service examination.

Working for a government educational institution now has opened my eyes to the harsh realities of why corruption is prevalent in the bureaucracy and why it is so difficult to stop. The maxim that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is so apropos in this environment.

It starts with the noble purpose of education for the underprivileged youth of the capital city of the country. A City college is established by way of an ordinance. It is housed in the building of what used to be the head office of a government financial institution in what was the premiere business district of the capital city. It is immediately packed with political appointees.

At a time when qualification standards were higher and the moral fiber of people stronger, the college achieves a certain measure of success. The college is not composed of the best and the brightest but it serves the purpose it was created for but this would also mark the start of a symbiotic relationship between the city government and the city college where corruption not only thrives but becomes a way of life.

The noble intention of education for the underprivileged becomes the basis for a mutually-beneficial relationship between the city government and the college, which eventually is upgraded to a university. For the politicians, the university becomes a repository of political appointees and a tool for distributing largesse to their constituencies. The appointees prey on the students through different money-making schemes such as admission in exchange for cash, the sale of uniforms, school supplies and fees which are unnecessary. The logic is simple – they are getting an education for free so might as well get something from them.

It soon becomes an ecosystem with an incestuous nature. The positions in the university are occupied by the members of what has now evolved into a syndicate. Well-meaning faculty members and administrators are not given career advancement opportunities. They are isolated because they refuse to play the game. The favored few are given extra teaching loads and concurrent administrative posts. Continuing education in the institution affords them the justification for promotion up to the next rung in the civil service career ladder. Even those who do not meet the minimum requirement of civil service eligibility are given temporary appointments. The local promotion and selection board is a sham. It becomes a rubber stamp for legalized corruption.

The institution goes through fifteen Presidents in twenty-four years. There is barely any reform in the system despite the qualification that the President should be one known for probity and integrity. In short, the leader is also corrupted by the system. You can’t fight City Hall as the saying goes so it is better to just go along for the ride. This is at the expense of the youth who should be the future of the country.

The syndicate is protected by the veil of security of tenure guaranteed by the Civil Service Code. The presumption of innocence takes precedence even if all the signs of corruption are obvious but the prosecution of malfeasance and misfeasance requires a preponderance of evidence that is difficult to obtain when those who are guilty of the misdeeds control the system. This is why it takes someone who has the firm resolve and the political will to come along to undo what others have not been able to because the gargantuan task overwhelms those who have come before.

Technology combined with political will has made it possible to overcome corruption. There is now hope for the noble purpose, for which the institution was created, will finally be fulfilled. The students who are witnessing the process as it unfolds should well remember the experience for when is is their turn to overcome this challenge as the future leaders of the country.

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About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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