COMMENTARY: DU30 wants you!!! (Getting Employed in the Regime of Change)

RADJAH BUAYAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/ 19 June) — President Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has implied that he wanted only the best and the brightest for his government. His administration will formally start at noon on June 30, 2016 and will end by June 30, 2022, God willing.

If we are to interpret his goal of making the government responsive to public needs and deliver the best for the Filipino people, this administration would likely employ people who are competent, have integrity, and are committed to serve the people.

Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan, mayor-elect of Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao. MIndaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan won a second term as mayor of Radjah Buayan town in Maguindanao. MindaNews file photo taken May 2013 by TOTO LOZANO

For me who had been in public service since 1986, immediately upon assumption of the EDSA Revolutionary Government, I had the opportunity to see how an idealistic government sought persons to join the civil service. My first employment was with the Mindanao State University (MSU) as Technical Assistant to the University President because I was personally known to the one appointed by President Cory Aquino at that time. Dr. Ahmad Alonto, Jr., the newly installed MSU President knew me personally for my professional competence. I am a registered Civil Engineer, a civil service eligible and a known student leader who had worked with him as a leftist and Islamist activist.

After almost a year, I transferred to the local government of Sultan Sa Barongis for a new appointment as Municipal Planning and Development Officer. My uncle who was appointed as Mayor recruited me because he badly needed a hard working young professional to help him develop the town. Again, he knew me personally and appreciated that I would be a good support to him as Local Chief Executive.

My uncle lost in the elections so, to avoid disconfiguring my professional development, I sought employment with another office. It was timely that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was reorganized by the revolutionary government and there were many vacancies. The new DTI Secretary Jose Concepcion wanted only the best and the brightest and it offered above average pay more than any other agency in the government, because the standardization of pay scale in government was not yet in place then.

I passed rigorous examinations covering both technical skills, mental and health fitness. My initial appointment was as T&I Development Specialist but there was so much room for career progress that within a year I was appointed into a senior position and in two years, I got my first Presidential Appointment as Provincial Director.

To become a head of office during that time in DTI required that you pass the managerial test and have undergone advance technical experience on the job. I did not have any political backing, only professional and personal qualifications. DTI Maguindanao Provincial Office eventually was placed under ARMM, an entity which did not follow the strict observance of civil service rules and the professional basis of employment in government.

At DTI, I had gained so much exposure in terms of training and the professional environment that prevailed before ARMM. After the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement, I stepped out of government service to join a United Nations (UN) sponsored program for Southern Philippines which gave me further experience as a Development Manager. Then a change of government happened as EDSA II Revolution took place. President Gloria Arroyo whom I worked with when she was DTI Undersecretary appointed me to become head of an office in Malacanang.

In that national office, I saw how crab mentality dominated the work in the highest office of the land and so I kept myself secured as a bureaucrat, thus, sought to get inducted into the elite Career Executive Service Officer (CESO), setting out from rank 3 and eventually into rank I. My professional stature is challenged almost every time by snakes in Malacanang which brought me into one agency after another, keeping the same level as Undersecretary and a permanent rank as CESO.

I am telling you my personal experience, so that those who would want to join the President Mayor in his administration would have appreciation that, indeed, in this regime of change, which I almost understand to be a revolutionary government because of the unusual style of the newly-elected leader, competence matters but personal connection may work as well, as I experienced.

Probably, the Cabinet members and other key offices would be recruited on the basis of personal trust of the President and those who work with him run the government. But my observation is, and I hope I am not wrong in saying this, that the workforce from Undersecretary and below would be recruited with prudence and proper screening.

Singapore is an excellent model for enlisting the best and the brightest and the government pays well those employed in the public sector, at par or more than those in the private sector. Such a model maybe too idealistic but it is not impossible to do. Remember that Singapore is a socialist government which is the same ideological inclination President Mayor Duterte said of his convictions, and maybe he may follow similar pattern in putting up a refurbished bureaucracy, such as in the manner of recruiting people into the civil service.

Going back to the DTI during the EDSA Revolutionary Regime, I saw how such stringent screening of applicants would result to better governance. And paying civil servants well also do wonders for an effective public service delivery. At DTI then, there were no ifs and buts in terms of getting people employed as servants of the people.

President Mayor Duterte clearly pointed it out that he would not entertain political endorsements to get employment into the civil service, under his administration, exactly as DTI did during President Cory Aquino’s time with Jose Concepcion as DTI Secretary.

Probably, the new Cabinet Secretaries once they assume office will not dare veer away from this pronouncement of the President Mayor. The Civil Service Commission, the Career Executive Board and the National Police Commission, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and others who handle recruitment into vital office such as Diplomatic Work should better watch out. Maybe this time, it would be a massive change in public service sector as competent people will now run government offices, who truly care for the needs of the people and usher development and progress.

So, how should one get into public service and be part of the the DU30 Regime of Change? I make suggestions as I reminisce how I got my first career job during the EDSA Revolutionary Regime.

And here are my tips:

  1. KNOW YOURSELF, YOUR COMPETENCE AND CHARACTER… meaning, you should review your credentials such as education, experience and trainings establishing fully well your field of competence and how you deal with people. Civil servants should be able to build career pattern and not just here and there as they progress to become public sector professional and bureaucrats. Skills, abilities and capacities are important when one does a job in government so that the people get the best service they need. But the other thing which is equally important is that being in government is to become a Servant of the People even as you are aware that the ultimate thing is to be Servant of God, and so your character and spirituality is important. You must assess your values and ideals and how you look up to a Greater Force of the Universe to move you into doing good without fear or favor.
  2. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT… that is you clarify your career goals. Set a vision for yourself. Imagine yourself as if you have become employed as public servant and having an eye to a bright future ahead. Have a dream of what you will become. You must be able to relate your dreams to how government works for the welfare of the people. Your basic objective is to be able to help people who need care and seek opportunity for a better life, and the overall requirement for an environment that ushers local and national progress. The career goals that you wish to achieve must be corollary to the effectiveness that the government can deliver its mandate for the welfare of all.
  3. DEVELOP VERSATILITY IN YOUR COMPETENCE… because with the current modernization in workplaces, even in government, you may have one field of interest that may become obsolete. Be ready to have multiple focus, which means that while you are trained as an Engineer, probably, you would have to shift to become a Development Manager, or in more remote but possible chance, you may be called to serve as diplomat. Look at how military officers progress from being a valiant combat officer but then build-up competence as disaster risk officers and some get exposed to diplomacy as well, even as others build knowledge on politics and economics.
  4. KNOW HOW SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS TO PROJECT A POSITIVE IMAGE… as government is an exposure into public scrutiny and where you might get noticed as well. Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some other popular social media platforms may be your best chance to get noticed by PDU30 or his trusted officials or heads of government offices. Be careful of projecting a negative image in the social media as once your reputation is destroyed in public through the speed of information that abounds, then forget about being employed in government. Many use the LinkedIn platform to reach out to high valued employers such as Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and others that allows overseas posts. Social Media allows you to be in. Set an image of yourself in a way that people would want to seek you out.
  5. KNOW WHAT EXTRA MILEAGE YOU HAVE… such as those that were not product of trainings and experience but the innate values that you evoke. Look inward into your Leadership potentials which arise from your being a good follower. This is also maturity at work and the relationships and networks that you have built. Seek out the goodwill that has become part of your being a professional person. As a starter, you may look back at your experience as a student leader or maybe project organizer in your college days.
  6. KNOW HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS SITUATED IN TERMS OF THE PEOPLE IT SERVES AND OUTSIDE OF IT… as it is where you would appreciate how you get advancement within it. Be sensitive to public opinion. Think ahead if you may. Do not be stagnant and fixated to what you are but understand how you set yourself in motion as government expands. The negative notion about centrality in government is the same bad thing about centrality of your ego. Be a civil servant that is progressive as government should be progressive.
  7. KNOW YOUR CONFIDENTIAL PEERS… as you would have to work out your ups and downs and your potentials and inabilities with few people you can trust. Even before your submit your resume to the PDu30 Transtion Team or the government office you have in mind, discuss your prospects with two or three persons, not with many people. Expose yourself to only those who would understand you well and so they help you set you into your target job. And when you are already in, keep in contact with them.
  8. BE READY TO STUMBLE… as rosy prospects may not work at all. You may have wanted such a job but maybe you failed to get noticed and so you have to look up to another prospect. Understand why you failed to get your desired work in government. And understand as well that maybe you really are not fit to become public servant or that simply you have missed the chance of being noticed. Well, life offers many options for you, and the ultimate thing is that God offers you His care and love even if some people in government do not care and are insensitive.

That’s it mga Kababayan na naghahanap ng trabaho. It’s heavy… this is a challenging time indeed. DU30 has impressed the Filipino People that it is putting up a Regime of Change… and so, ARE YOU READY?

Finally, let me share a quote from the Glorious Qur’an that says: “God does not change the condition of a people unless they themselves change.”

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan, a Civil Enginer, was Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. He held various posts as Undersecretary, and others as head of government office. He is CESO I, the highest rank as Philippine Career Executive Service. He won his 2nd term as Municipal Mayor of Radjah Buayan, Maguindanao, running under PDP-Laban during the May 9, 2016 elections)