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Budget Circular No. 2016-5 issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) does not speak of any novel austerity measure for the government as a similar circular was also issued during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. However, in the overall context of “change” in government that the Duterte Administration is pursuing, the ban on the purchase of luxury vehicles by any government agency is a small, yet very significant element of what President Duterte calls a “clean government.”
A clean government is not only one that is corruption-free – it is also one that exists and operates to serve the best interest of the people. The ban on the purchase of luxury vehicles is a powerful assertion as to who are the masters and who are the servants.
Why should government agencies purchase luxury cars for the use of its officials when the same agencies always have insufficient funds for their public service programs?
The purchase of luxury cars may be legal when there are no laws or lawful orders that prohibit it but is it right and ethical? Does the servant’s use of the masters’ money to buy a luxury vehicle at the guise of using it in serving the masters make sense?
The current Administration’s thrust to have a “clean government” is clearly directed towards pulling back the government to its fundamental roots – that it exists to serve and protect the people. Indeed, anything that runs counter to this fundamental principle is a stain. The Administration is obviously committed in removing all these stains – all policies and practices that do not serve the interest of the people – to bring about a clean government.
All persons who work in the government are servants of the people. Government officials, both elected and appointed, are leaders but they remain to be servants of the people. Their being servants is nothing less than those who are with rank-and-file positions but is in fact more than them because of their leadership responsibilities.
We hope that the ongoing cleansing in our government continues. It is very easy to spot the stains – start with the privileges that have been traditionally enjoyed by government workers, particularly those occupying leadership positions. Only a few simple questions should be answered to identify the stains – should servants enjoy these privileges for them to serve and protect their masters? How will such privileges make their services better? Who benefits and who loses when such benefits are taken out? (Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)