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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The “Padrino” System - A Menace to Philippine Society (Part II)

The Political “Patronage” in Human Resource Management
Although favoritism is occurring in private organizations to a certain extent, efforts have been made by private companies to curb down this immoral practice. Today, successful and well organized private corporations utilize private Human Resource Consulting firms, (such as John Clements and Guthrie-Jensen Consultants) to do the recruitment and selection of work applicants for vacant positions in their organizations, thereby minimizing if not completely eliminating favoritism. More than that, private organizations nowadays give more emphasis on regular Work Performance Evaluations that become the basis for promotions and salary increases of their employees. 
However, with resignation, we have to accept the sad reality that favoritism in the government service is and will always be in full throttle. This malpractice has always been a source of grumble and criticism in most if not all local government units. The mere knowledge that favoritism is practiced in a government office is more than enough for competent and efficient employees to breed the sentiment of “indifference” in their work, in response to a question, “Why would I care with my work when performance is not a consideration for promotion”, for them a reminder of an old saying; “it’s not what you know but whom you know”.
Most prevalent in local government units, the main reason for appointing favored individuals to all kinds of employment such as temporary casual and job order, co-terminus and regular status is what is known as political “accommodation” or “patronage”.  Appointments, promotions, transfers to “juicy positions”, provision of additional allowances, perks and privileges are given to relatives, close aides and friends, political leaders and supporters as well as those backed by political campaign funds contributors and co- politicians. Appointing authorities usually adopt the “turn a blind eye” stance thereby ignoring superior qualifications, good work performance, next-in-rank succession and seniority of other applicants. Instead, appointing authorities take into account only the political affiliation and loyalty of the applicants, the reason why we see many permanent employees in local government units belonging to families of politicians, close aides and political contributors, and their relatives and friends.     
While heads of local government units always claim that this is a purely a management prerogative as authorized appointing officials, the fact remains that, most if not all, of their appointees are bereft of qualifications or with inferior aptitude than most of the other applicants. Making matters worse, the Qualifications Standards of the Philippine Civil Service Commission, which require only minimum qualifications of applicants,  is observed to be generic, confusing, and exposed to varied interpretation whereby reinforcing the brashness of appointing authorities to hire their relatives, close aides,  political leaders and their relatives and friends, with impunity.     
Although this is a general dereliction in the hiring of government employees in municipalities, cities and provinces there are some qualified, competent and efficient public servants who have covered the “workload” of the less qualified government employees appointed by political ”patronage”.
The Impact of the “Padrino” System in HRM in Government Services
The impact of patronage appointments'  through the “Padrino” system on public service continue to be an interesting topic for debate among public management scholars. Many studies have been conducted to explore the “pros” and “cons” of patronage appointments on the public sector.  However, most of the research works concluded that patronage appointments have damaging impact on the performance of basic public services.
Speaking from my personal experience as a high ranking executive official in a local government unit  for almost 9 years, to reconcile the responsiveness of “patronage” appointees to the political agenda of the appointing executive and  the need for effective public governance is in itself a daunting task.
While it is true that political appointees in sensitive positions may also help mitigate the lack of trust and loyalty issue that many elected officials have, the demand for strategic planning and efficient management that will result to effective public governance far outweighs the political patronage agenda.
Most often than not, political appointees in the government sector tend to engage in corruption and unnecessary waste of valuable public funds. On assuming government offices most “patronage” appointees launch their delegated authority by purchasing expensive official vehicles, office equipment and supplies, and refurbishing their offices at exorbitant costs to the public.  
In many local government units, it was reported that some such institutions engaged in air travel have resulted in large sums of money being advanced from the local treasury to cover the losses. The past records of persons with political patronage before being appointed to such positions must be examined by the LGU to ensure their suitability and mindedness to hold such sensitive positions.
It may be argued that patronage politics is a phenomenon present in every political system, irrespective of the country, whether developed, developing or undeveloped. In fact, in some political systems, opponents endorse patronage as an acceptable occurrence at the highest levels of government, where the ruling authorities are entitled to select their cabinet and department heads.
However, evidence shows that political “patronage” system extending far down the organizational structure, specifically in the local government units, are susceptible to incompetence, unprofessionalism and corruption.  
In the Philippine setting, this is definitely true. The “Padrino” system  has continued to affect every aspect of government functions and result into gross inefficiency in the delivery of basic services and increased corruption and “patronage politics in in the public sector. It cannot be denied that the private sector participates as a leading performer through connivance with public officials to defraud the government of huge revenues and taxes.
Courtesy of arabnews.com
Favoritism in the selection and appointments of government employees is deceptive and interferes with justice and fairness in human resource management. The blatant discrimination of employees result to low worker’s morale and create a hostile working environment that significantly impact the efficiency of the whole unit more than the individual workers.
Simply put, the efficiencies of departments and offices in the local government units are highly dependent on the work performances of their staff and is jeopardized by the inferior political appointees. This is correct since compared to a chain, the strength of an organization is only good as the strength of its weakest link, the political appointees, in this case.  
Aside from the recruitment and appointment of co-terminous, temporary casual, job order and permanent government officials and employees, the tentacles of the “Padrino“ system in the Philippines is farfetched, a sad reality. 
The political corruption associated with the “Padrino” system on government contracts, displayed through nepotism and patronage appointments have adversely affected local economic growth.  Progress has been concentrated in the hands of a few privileged cohorts at the expense of the members of the community. Those who had been fortunate to be allies and blind supporters of the ruling party and political leadership are the ones who were often rewarded with power and material wealth while completely ignoring the performance merit system contradictory to maintaining a better community  that is built  on the principle of fairness and collective growth and development.
Part 3 -  “Padrino” system in Procurement and Project Contracts in Government Services. 
May 13, 2013
Fresno, California USA 

1 comment:

  1. may we know the author's name so that we can include it in our study as reference? thanks :)