Government Appointments: Career Officials Or Celebrities

Published: 2021-07-01 14:45:08
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Category: Politics, Work

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I was scrolling through my Facebook feed until I saw a video of a man in a tan shirt pointing his hands to his crotch and then to his chest as he proceeded to flail his arms wildly chanting vulgar lyrics that went like this: “I-pepe I-pepe I-dede I-dede I-pepe pepe pede pede RA LIS MO”. I was entranced with his movements and didn’t understand what message he was trying to convey until the woman beside him abruptly interrupted his dance routine to make him read the definition of Federalism and compare it to a rainbow, in a desperate attempt to convince the viewer that Federalism is a viable form of government. Upon further research, the woman and man in the video were none other than the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Mocha Uson, and her blogger co-host Drew Olivar. This bothered me greatly. But since I have not heard of these people until this video, I decided to dig deeper and do my research. I was curious about Mocha Uson, who she was and what had she posted about before she hopped onto government service. Using the Wayback Machine, an online archiver which can be used to view web pages that are defunct, I checked her old WordPress blog as well as her Facebook page. Through my search, I discovered that before 2016, Mocha Uson’s blog had nothing to do with governance whatsoever and mostly had to do with her group “MOCHA GIRLS”, their raunchy whereabouts, sex advice, and vulgar posts highlighting her sexuality.
The questions that immediately popped into my mind after researching about her background and history, in relation to her appointment as Assistant Secretary were simply: “How did she get this position?” “Why was she appointed into this position?”, and “What were they thinking?” The answer to my questions though, were right in front of my face. Her once raunchy and provocative blogs and social media pages suddenly evolved into campaigning heavily for President Rodrigo Duterte by the year 2015. Not surprisingly, once her candidate won, she was initially offered a position as a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and then later, as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) which is her current office.Mocha Uson’s appointment raised my curiosity further. Is her situation unique, or are there other appointees similarly situated? A simple Google search reveals that it wasn’t just Mocha Uson who was given a government position because of her support for the president. Other celebrities were also able to assume high ranking positions in the government, such as actor Cesar Montanoas the Chief Operation Officer of the Tourism Promotions Board, comedian Arnell Ignacio who was appointed as Deputy Executive Director at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and singer Jimmy Bondoc, has been appointed as Assistant Vice President for entertainment at PAGCOR. This troubles me because instead of having a government run by people who are appointed based on fitness and merit for the position, celebrities with almost no qualifications are appointed just because they endorsed the president. Career officials who painstakingly worked their way up from the ranks, gather experience that comes with working in the government, and have long term plans for the improvement of their respective government offices, are robbed of positions rightfully belonging to them because a completely unqualified celebrity heavily campaigned the president. And what have these unqualified celebrities done during their stay in office? Mocha Uson, aside from the “I-pepe I-pepe I-dede I-dede I-pepe pepe pede pede RA LIS MO” fiasco, is also known as the “fake news queen”, with a Senate hearing to booth. More recently, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) urged the Office of the OMBUDSMAN to investigate Ms. Uson for possible violations of the Magna Carta of Person with Disabilities after she posted a video of favorite blogger Olivar pretending to be deaf while making hand gestures mimicking the sign language of deaf people, and making squeaking sounds in an attempt to imitate a deaf trying to communicate verbally. Cesar Montano recently resigned after being in the center of a controversy involving the alleged misuse of funds and mismanagement of the board.
Jimmy Bondoc grabbed headlines on April 2018 after he urged Duterte followers to delete their Facebook accounts and move to Russia’s VK, a social network dominated by Russian-speaking citizens and is known to attract extremists .To solve this problem, I believe that merit and fitness should be greatly considered when it comes to the appointment of individuals in government positions. In the Philippine Judiciary, when a lawyer wants to become a judge, he would have to apply to the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) first, then he will be interviewed, given a psychological exam and the JBC will conduct a background check. The JBC will then chose the best three among the applicants, and will recommend these three to the President. The President can only choose from among those three which one to appoint as a judge. I believe that this system should be applied when appointing positions to the Executive branch as well, with the President choosing from three individuals who were tried and tested by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), all confirmed to be fit for the position.
In lower ranks, merit and fitness are strictly followed, but in higher positions, the presidential prerogative overrules it. It is understandable that the President should have the leeway to choose those whom he thinks will best help him achieve his vision for the country. However, it is mostly abused; hence leading to the celebrity appointments. But if we adopt the system of the JBC, we can be certain that only those fit for the position will be appointed, yet the President still have enough elbow room to choose who he will work with. Only then can we say goodbye to the likes of a Mocha Uson in the government.

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