Life Lifetimes Opinions

CoVid-19 outbreak and ECQ remind us that we are privileged

By ATTY. LUZ ROSALES, J.D.*

Yes, it is the feeling I have right now. Mixed emotions actually.

There are too many heart breaking stories in the SOCMED narrating how the people worldwide, regardless of their “walks of life”, suffer due to COVID19 outbreak. It’s painful to see how our frontliners, the medical personnel, PNP, AFP, and thousands of Filipino workers both in public and private providing essential services, sacrifice their own lives just to make sure that we are safe and secured at home. There can be no better time that we appreciate what they do for us, and for the country. I salute all the frontliners!

For us who work in the government, it is humbling to see and quite reassuring, that President Duterte and the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) are working 24/7 to put the situation under control. I suppose too, you are thankful to the Media for bringing news right in the comfort of our homes and for letting us know what’s happening outside.

Meanwhile, it is amazing how the private sectors heed the call of the President to cooperate and do something for the Filipino people. For those, who have little money or nothing at all on their pocket, and with the little support that the government can provide, you would understand their fear for survival in the coming days. It is worth pondering how life could change in a moment. Only God knows!

Let’s keep the faith and the courage to remain positive no matter how bad our situation right now. This is not the time to be selfish. This is the time to love each other more. This is the time to love our country even more.

The fact that we are home with family, we are privileged. Let us do our share.

Based on data available, there are around 2.3 million government workers in the country including those under contract of service and job order scheme. The PNP has around 190 thousand officers and personnel; the AFP has 125,000 active military personnel; and the institution-based health workers, including those in private hospitals and clinics, has around 185 thousand only. Given that, majority of government workers, especially those situated in Luzon, either forms part of the skeletal workforce, under work from home arrangement, and others taking this once in a lifetime opportunity to stay home and be with the family, physically or virtually.

Wherever we are right now, it is not our choice. It’s the emergency situation that calls for it. Throughout this challenging times and the uncertainty surrounding the COVID19 outbreak, we must and we should be doing our part, as privileged government workers.

I can only hope that you see much of the positive things on what we are doing right now under our Work From Home Arrangement Plan (WHAP). With or without this, I know we are dedicated and committed enough to ensure the continuity of our essential services regardless.

I am sharing you the following reflections anchored on our core values:

1. FAITH. We must share and demonstrate our strong faith in a Supreme Being through committed, dedicated and faithful service. Let us inspire faith that is needed in every step of our journey as public servant, as government workers, regardless of rank, status and title. Be thankful that we have a job. Be thankful we have our family. Pray for the country and for all of us.

Let us thank God, even in the worst of times. I am not religious, but I think I am spiritual enough that I pray and maintain strong FAITH in HIM. For countless times, I am assured of HIS presence, especially during my relatively difficult childhood years, and during challenging times of my life as a private person and public servant. My life is not perfect ever since but with HIM, I am strong.

2. PATRIOTISM. We must embrace patriotism even in the simplest acts in our professional work and personal lives. Let us take a fair share of the burdens in improving the country, by protecting its interest, obeying our laws, and keeping public funds and property secured and well accounted for. Let us work for the conservation and protection of the environment.

We are all heroes in our own little way. By simply obeying the rules and regulations, you are making the life of our enforcement officers easier. By staying at home, you help prevent and mitigate the COVID19 outbreak that would unburden our health workers and enable them to be with their family in time.

Somebody, who is married to a doctor, posted in her FB, supposedly coming from her husband: “I stay at work for you, so stay at home for me”. Another cute message from a little son of a policeman that reads: “Please stay at home, so that Daddy can be home with us too”. I hope you realized by now, that indeed, we are privileged.

It is patriotism, when you stop asking for support from your local officials for foods or other sustenance knowing that you can afford it better than others. It is patriotism when you do not take advantage of this emergency situation, for whatever it is. Let us be fair and reasonable to our expectations from the government and from anyone.

Let us fulfil our obligation by being sensitive to the needs for assistance of our co-workers even if it would mean, we be part of the skeletal workforce, we be disturbed while sleeping at home, because it would mean a lot to those in need of our services. We must be prudent in our approach, if only to ensure that every decision we take in doing our tasks is to the best interest of the greater majority that we serve, not based on our comforts and limited understanding. While at home, nevertheless, we must balance our time between our tasks under WHA and your time with your family and other concerns at home.

It is patriotism, when we think for the government and its people. WE can only pray, that this too shall pass, and brighter days are ahead of us. It would be patriotic of us, if we would do something for the conservation and protection of the environment right before our own backyard, while we are on ECQ. Planting a tree or two is but a small step but it would certainly help.

3. INTEGRITY. We must conduct ourselves in a manner that is exemplary and beyond reproach at all times, We have to be professional in every aspect, in dealing with superiors, subordinates, and to our interactions with all persons, whether members of a particular sector, or the larger society. When we are faced with difficult decisions and hard choices, we will do what is right, moral, just and fair even in the face of adversity.

Integrity applies to anyone and everyone in government. Rendering an honest work in a day is integrity. Coming to work on time and working with diligence, even in the absence of a superior is integrity. Avoiding of and not allowing short cuts in getting things done is likewise a manifestation of integrity. Obeying the laws, rules and regulations is both integrity and patriotism.

Graft and corruption in government has many faces. It is not only getting money from the coffer of the government. Some actions are well defined in the law, some are not. But if we work with integrity, we can help eliminating such problem in the bureaucracy.

4. EXCELLENCE. We should measure excellence by equity and superior performance. We should embrace innovation by systematically exploring new ideas and encouraging employees to do it without fear of failure. It is good to render superior performance. Do not make the working life of each other stressful and difficult by rendering work that is below standards. BE your own standards of excellence. Know your job well and the expectations from it.

Let us go beyond compliance culture. Let us be more analytical and critical; appreciates criticisms as one great way for improvement; be confident but know the extent of your authority; be empowered but equipped yourself of the greater understanding of your job and others as well. Take seriously our performance commitment. Do not simply look for numbers, consider quality and timeliness. Respect deadlines, so as not to affect others.

Let us be good leaders and managers. Let us be fair in dealing with our employees. In return, employees must be conscious enough to better their performance, to render an excellent job. Seek ways to enhance your skills and competencies. Explore new work processes that will help improve delivery of services to our stakeholders. Excellent job will always pay off in the end for you. Love your work because when you do, excellence need not be imposed, it becomes a motivation- a reward in itself.

5. SERVICE. We must work together closely and collaboratively for the common good. We should have passion on what we do and we must be proud of what we accomplished. We must be relentless and driven to meet our goals.

Needless to emphasize, teamwork is important. We decide not only on the basis of our own work, not only on what’s easier for you to do the task, but we should always consider, the impact of what we do on other members of the group. It is not simply about accomplishing your own task, it is about achieving our group goals.

Be confident to propose ways in doing our tasks better. Support your superiors in making the right decisions by providing them accurate data, records, analysis and other pertinent information. Educate them on matters, especially on the details of what you are doing, should the circumstances calls for it. Help each other. Do not hesitate to correct your superior if you think your superior is failing. Help them perform their job by performing your job well.

During this emergency situation, one must think, despite the given limitation, how to work collaboratively or on their own. Great ideas may come up while you are sitting before a television set watching news on COVID19 updates. Make your stay at home productive and relaxing as well. Again be thankful, we still have a job when it is all over.

6. RESILIENCE. We must ensure our ability to prepare for and adapt to changing working conditions and leadership, governance and management mechanisms and recover rapidly from work disruptions and challenges it entails.

Status quo is no longer an option. In this era of innovations and rapid change in technology, we must be able to adapt to new ways of doing our tasks, otherwise, we will find ourselves not coping to the wind of change. We will be left behind until we find ourselves totally not ready for anything and everything that’s happening around us. That is not fair to yourself, to the group and to the government that employs you.

Experience tells us, that change of leadership, during peaceful or challenging times caused certain changes if not disruptions on our work. WE have to embrace it armed with our desire to continue serving, wherever the change leads us. It could mean new assignments, new co-worker, a more challenging and difficult task, but at the end of the day, it is your resiliency that would make a difference.

In my almost 36 years of working life, this is the first time that I experience work disruptions as it is. WE, being privileged at that, should not be very complacent that after all we are assured of our salaries and other benefits while ECQ is in effect. This is not sustainable. This is not what we want. WE would be happy, if tomorrow when we wake up, COVID19 outbreak is already contained and we are already allowed to report for work.

With the uncertainty surrounding us, our resiliency is being tested. The resiliency of the government is being challenged. How far the government can help us? WE don’t know for sure. WE have to prepare, we have to open our minds to all possibilities, while praying so hard that we will rise above it. Let us help ourselves, let us help the government in doing its job.

I do not claim that I am excellent. I do not claim that it is my intellectual mind talking. I am not even sure, if I have it. It is, actually my heart that is overflowing with love for everyone, for the government and the public we both serve, and for the country we belong.

We are privileged in whoever ethical lens we look at it.| – BNN

*Atty. Luz Rosales is the Vice President for Finance of the Batangas State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce – Major in in Accounting degree at the Golden Gate Colleges, and her Juris Doctor degree at the University of Batangas College of Law — all in Batangas City.