"The general welfare of the public always takes precedence over personal matters or political interests."
The oath of office of a public official is a promise or an affirmation of his faithfulness to his duty as a public servant of the country. It is said to be a guarantee that the public official shall use reasonable skill and diligence in the performance of his duties and shall act primarily for the benefit of the public.
Hence, when you take an oath of office, you are bound to serve the Filipino people to the best of your abilities, with utmost integrity, discipline, and efficiency. The general welfare of the public always takes precedence over personal matters or political interests.
This is common and public knowledge, but clearly has been often taken for granted. The pandemic confirmed the truth on this matter. As the entire government is forced to face this crisis head on, common sense dictates that we are all expected to act accordingly.
Everyone knows that local government units have been constantly implementing quarantine measures and health protocols, while also expected to extend the necessary assistance to the affected population. While this is so, it is very disappointing there are people in power who remain unreasonably blind and deaf to the situation.
Every day, many Filipinos suffer from the impact of this pandemic. COVID-19 patients endure the long waiting time in hospitals which are already in full capacity, while some traverse cities and provinces just to find bed vacancies. Hospitals, on the other hand, scramble to obtain COVID-19 medicines such as remdesivir and tocilizumab, and oxygen tanks which are all reportedly in short supply.
Healthcare workers are exhausted; many of them await their proper salaries. Many people have lost jobs and their livelihoods. Families grieve for their departed loved ones. The number of deaths and confirmed cases, sadly, continues to rise. There is no other crisis more apparent than this COVID-19 pandemic.
Hence, when members of a Sanggunian Panlalawigan fail to pass the proposed COVID-19 budget and continue to refuse to attend sessions or even discuss this matter, this clearly amounts to gross negligence, oppression, and abuse of authority. Despite repeated appeals by the provincial government to the Sanggunian to adopt a budget that can provide more medicines, beds, personal protective equipment, and oxygen tanks, there was nothing done. Despite attempts of the provincial government to reconcile the alleged issues in the proposed budget that can help mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic to employees, small businesses, and agriculture, no action has been done by the other party. Despite having been called on by the Department of Interior and Local Government and mayors to immediately act on the budget ordinance, there was a consistent flat refusal to discuss the matter whenever the opportunity came.
Elected public officials must follow the oath they took. The failure to perform their respective sworn duties is not only a violation of this oath, but clearly a breach of public trust. Those who deliberately choose to turn a blind eye to the present situation and the pressing needs of the public in the midst of a crisis for personal interests must therefore be held accountable. The continuous refusal to do their duty deprives the public of the rightful benefits of a COVID-19 responsive budget.
For some, this may seem inconsequential, but to the majority of Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the passage of this budget may spell life or death.
Hence, our oath of office must always be upheld, for the Filipinos deserve nothing more than faithful and responsible public servants. With this, I hope the Sanggunian Panlalawigan of Quezon acts on the province’s proposed budget immediately and without any more undue delay. Quezon needs a working and united local government now to save more lives and help more people.