Friday, July 2, 2010

Edwin Lacierda's neophyte blunder

Presidential spokesperson Ed Lacierda met a rather feisty media yesterday as he presented a "corrected" version of Memorandum Circular Order no. 1. This controversial memo actually directs non-career officials to vacate their posts immediately. In the first memo, the order was immediate. In the corrected version, the order was modified to say "thirty days." Probably, new Executive secretary Paquito Ochoa thought that the first one was rather hastily written and did not consider the dire implications of a massive series of resignations in government functions.

There is, actually, nothing wrong with admitting that the second version of the memo was a "modified" version. However, Lacierda made a big faux pas when he tried to debate this with some members of the palace media. Lacierda insisted that the first order of the Aquino administration was not intrinsically flawed. In Lacierda's mind, there is really nothing controversial nor erroneous with the second memo presented before the media, thinking that it was just a correction.

What Lacierda failed to recognize is the fact that the memorandum circular was not just modified--its intrinsic intention was changed. The change from " at high noon of June 30" to "thirty days shortly thereafter" is very significant and affects the intrinsic nature of the entire circular. Why? Because the first one did not give those non-career officials the time to pack their bags and allow a smooth transition of functions, while the second one did. Secondly, in terms of legalities, these officials are now still allowed to sign government papers, enter into deals and do whatever they want to do for the next 30 days instead of the first one which necessarily disabled them as government functionaries. 

Memos are not just your ordinary corporate stationary issued by a boss. Memos are official acts of government, especially those concerning the bureaucracy. Memos are even treated as "law", a part of jurisprudence, because it is cloaked with the full majesty of the Law. These are ministerial orders, and its effects are momentous, to say the least. That memo affects not just 4,000 executive posts, no. It affects the entire bureaucracy of government.

Mr. Lacierda, the change was significant and the ever-so vigilant media pointed this out to you. You, in return, should be humble enough to admit that it was so. 

Fact is, Mr. Lacierda should actually be glad that he "suffered" such thing yesterday. Why? Because that is a pure example of a "feedback" from an active and ever so vigilant citizenry. New President Noynoy Aquino wants an ever responsive government, right? He wants to establish an effective feedback mechanism so that the government hears what the "boss" wants.

Yesterday, the "boss" tried to point out that the Memo circular was problematic and as a government official, Lacierda should not emulate his predecessors. Lacierda should be different. Lacierda should be reminded that he is THE PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON. He is an ALTER-EGO of Noynoy.

That title is very SIGNIFICANT. Whatever he utters there is practically treated as OFFICIAL POLICY. It is not an empty position. It is a very sensitive one.

If Lacierda acts like he's the boss, and thinks that he is more knowledgeable than others and acts like a brat or rather he thinks that, being a lawyer of this Republic, bestows one a prince, then, he better go to some corner and think these things over.

Public service is servanthood. Noynoy Aquino already said that the Filipinos are sick and tired of govermment officials acting like petty kings and midget tyrannical queens. Filipinos have rejected an insensitive government. And I hold Aquino responsible for saying all those things. His alter-egos should also be constantly reminded of this, since, as someone said, idealists turn into salivating monsters once they ascend the steps of Malacanang. I just hope Aquino's alter-egos, especially the likes of Lacierda, should not commit his predecessor's mistakes.

Anyway, it's still a long way to go and the public is still in a "forgiving" stance. Let's treat this as a trifle, often committed by neophytes in their first day in the job. Next time, Lacierda should act the way the People expects Noynoy's alter-egos to act.