Issue of August 12, 2018

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The poorest Filipinos have recently experienced the most severe impact of high prices of commodities. The country’s economy dipped in the second quarter of the year. Last week, authorities bagged billions worth of illegal drugs smuggled into the country, the biggest so far this year.

These reports, among other pressing events, however, were overshadowed by a jingle shown through a video blog, which the Presidential Communications Operations Office through Asec. Mocha Uson was preparing as a promotional material for federalism.

The jingle, which played with the first two syllables of federalism and emphasized a woman’s private body parts, was not only done in poor taste, but has put the information and communications arm of the government, the journalism profession, the women, and morals in lowest regard.

The manner adopted by Uson and her colleague to build up public discourse on federalism, which this administration is pursuing through charter change, perfectly shows how much our leaders value and understand the significance of the plan they wanted the public to accept.

It should have not have seen light and gone viral. If authorities would sit on this concern or allow this kind of indecency and lack of ethics with just a slap on the wrist, as in earlier blunders attributed to the same PCOO official and its employees, this administration is just proving its indifference that our country is further ridiculed for lack of professionalism.

It belittles the issue on federalism, which concerns major changes in the way citizens are governed. It is an insult to the work done by the 19 members of the consultative committee whose years of experience, competence, and wisdom on which they based their recommendations and approval of the draft federal constitution.

The action of the PCOO official does not only tend to malign the works of government information officers, which involve working hard to positively influence the Filipino public so they can contribute to significant changes badly needed by the government’s public information infrastructure. It would also provide private media practitioners a reason to doubt the quality and dependability of information or data sourced out from government offices, which smack of unreliability in some cases.

While the Philippine Information Agency has yet to succeed in implementing its communication and information agenda, we recognize PIA Director General Harold E. Clavite’s taking great offense in his colleague’s actions. It means that poor taste in the delivery of public information has not gone too far yet.

He said it is about time that somebody speaks up and hold erring officials accountable for tarnishing the government’s reputation. We agree, but for us, it should not have happened in the first place. Have we lost sense of standards and qualifications in appointing public officials, for a position as crucial as being an information disseminator at that?

The term federalism may overwhelm the mind of people who may be familiar but do not really know its meaning, so we agree that there has to be massive information, education, and communication drive on federalism. We also support innovative means of IECs so that messages are sent across effectively, but surely not the way the PCOO official did on the video blog.

This is not a question of freedom of expression. Our concern is all about one’s personal upbringing and ability to serve required of a public official. We do not advocate discrimination based on one’s past life, but if one could really not measure up and perform his or her duties competently after a chance to learn the ropes, one should not be allowed to stay a day longer in the position.

We should not tolerate. The country currently has more than enough on its plate. If federalism could help the country rise from poverty, if it could pave the way for provinces such as Apayao in the Cordillera to move out of the list of top 20 poorest provinces, then explain it to us without compromising decency.

Between Uson’s more than five million social media followers and majority of Filipinos who want a no-nonsense approach in explaining the merits of federalism, the latter should be given paramount attention.



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