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His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the 40th founding anniversary Development Academy of the Philippines
[Delivered at the DAP Building, Pasig City, on June 27, 2013]
Maupo ho tayong lahat. Magandang umaga po.
Secretary Arci Balisacan; members of the Cabinet present; Mr. Antonio Kalaw, President of DAP; former chairmen, board of trustees, officials, staff of the Development Academy of the Philippines; fellow workers in government; honored guests; ladies and gentlemen:
Muli, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.
The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) traces its roots to Martial Law—a time when the organizing principle was to concentrate all agencies, instrumentalities, and powers of government in the hands of the dictatorship.
Today, a little over 27 years after our nation reclaimed its democracy, the governing principle is the reverse: to place the powers of government squarely in the hands of the people. Today, instead of working towards absolute power, we work for inclusive growth, peace, and stability, on the bedrock of accountability.
While I may be Chief Executive of the country, it is certainly not within my abilities to personally oversee each and every office in the country. So I must rely on good managers—men and women in all levels of government—who take pride in their jobs and are able to fulfill their demands, towards serving our Bosses, the Filipino people. This is where the DAP comes in: through empowering public servants with the added learning, training, and competencies they need to meet their responsibilities.
From diploma courses for intelligence officers, to programs for senior managers and executives, to graduate degrees with specializations in rural development, security, and local governance—the DAP has a wide variety of programs that support the bureaucracy. In addition to this, you have also provided technical expertise for a number of government’s efforts, including the Results-Based Performance Management System and the Performance Based Incentive System of which I intend to follow up with Secretary Abad [laughter] as to goal implementation, and the crafting of Citizens’ Charters for government agencies and LGUs. Over the years, the DAP has truly become an instrument to others to contribute to sustainable development. On this occasion, allow me to extend my congratulations, and thanks, for all your contributions.
At the same time, your 40th anniversary also gives us a chance for reflection. Your institution is founded on the basic truth that one must never be complacent and that there are always ways to better our service to our countrymen. In the same vein, the DAP can never be complacent. As Mr. Kalaw said earlier, your institution was formed to be one that looks at development issues and problems with global, futuristic, and non-traditional perspectives. Modules that may have been applicable ten, twenty, or forty years ago may not be as effective today. And while the basic requirements of integrity and hard work remain unchanged, there are other, newer demands now being made of government workers.
Today, I challenge each and every one of you to ask these questions of yourselves: Am I training managers to perfect the art of red tape? Or am I empowering them to genuinely challenge convention towards improving our systems? Am I reinforcing complacency and years of routine, or helping government workers find different ways of solving problems and contribute to the efficiency of their institutions? There is something I always remind my managers: the danger for any bureaucrat is to put red tape ahead of public service.
This is an issue we must all be concerned with, especially now that things have changed in the Philippines. The world has already acknowledged the sea change in governance—our commitment to fighting corruption, instituting good governance, and rendering true service.
The DAP can help to ensure the permanence of these changes, spurring a virtuous cycle of true public service in each level of government. After all, the people you educate are involved in the daily operations of government offices, in implementing important projects, and in dealing directly with the public. They are the face of the government; they are the ones who will show their countrymen that things have truly changed in the Philippines. Through your programs, you can foster in them a deep sense of responsibility and service. In this way, long after I step down, government will continue to serve with integrity and pride, and keep us all from backsliding into the corruption and impunity of the past. Never forget that you are an agency of empowerment. Never forget the role you play in strengthening governance—and in so doing, strengthening the Philippines.
Once again, my congratulations on your 40th anniversary.
Before I end, may I’ll just share a couple of thoughts. When I was looking at all of the programs that you are assisting with, I think once again we were all deluged with a lot of acronyms. [Laughter] So much so that it has become its own language. [Laughter] And if we are supposed to use language to communicate, I wonder how many of us really have memorized all of these acronyms so that we continue to communicate.
I’m reminded of a commercial when I was younger—you’re 40 years now, you know 73’ marked an important year in my life. Of course, that was the first year after the imposition of Martial Law. It was the time I graduated from grade school. There was a sea change in my life. [Laughter]
Bottom line was there was a commercial that used to go like this, and to those of you who are roughly my generation, I think you’ll remember this. [Laughter]
It went, “F-U-R-N-I-T-U-R-E.” [Laughter]. All the people who are nodding have admitted they are part of my generation. I would like to inform you that Domus, the fine furniture company, seems to be still operating. I saw a store with that name in Greenbelt. To those of you who are younger, I was also as perplexed when I first heard that commercial because we were studying English and it said, “F-U-R-N-I-T-U-R-E,” and I couldn’t understand it. So Secretary Julia Abad of the PMS is tasked with providing me with a glossary of all of these acronyms. [Laughter] So I ask you, perhaps it’s time that we studied all of these things, and try to come up with some system that even if it’s the first time you’ve heard about it, somehow, the acronym will endeavor to encourage you to perform whatever is necessary, that much better.
And last point, I’m sure you’ve seen all these new digital watches, which are called now wrist computers. And why are they called wrist computers? Because in addition being a watch function, it also has instruments for reading barometric pressure, or altitude, or a whole host of other things. Even with time—you have timers, you have stopwatches, you have world time, you have multizone times. Bottom line is, when you get the watch, you get about a half-inch worth of instructions. So you will probably be wearing the watch for one month before you understand how to utilize 90% [laughter] of the functions of the watch you were so impressed with. So, each of these watch companies in turn provides both the manual and a quick guide, or a startup guide, so that you can utilize the watch right away. So my request to all of you is this: You have the time and the capacity to study all of the problems besetting the country to the minutest detail, but if it is left in a thesis presentation, locked up in some library, it does not help anybody. Perhaps we should focus that those who are responsible for running this country on a day-to-day basis need a quick guide at the soonest possible time, and in their free times, can endeavor to more fully understand the concepts that were illustrated in the quick guide. So together with a more thorough understanding of all of our projects, programs, and policies, and agencies and the quick guide perhaps we truly will be more effective to our people.
Thank you. Good day.