Mind da News: Unjust Gift-Giving

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (December 30, 2010) – Cash gifts given to government workers at Christmas time is a “Thank you” gesture in the spirit of Christmas. It is expected, brings joy and boosts morale. It is never intended to leave some bitter taste or injustice.

From the national level cash gifts are fixed sums equally given. From the local levels, the “gift” officially called “bonus” varies in amount depending on the “surplus” made available from the local government coffer and the percentage of regular salary of the employee or official as determined by the local government legislative council or sanggunian. Hence, the bigger the year’s “surplus” declared and the bigger the salary percentage set as the basis of the bonus the bigger the gift.

The gift from the national level is equally given and appears to be a regular annual appropriation.  There is no injustice there.

The local level gift-giving is unjust and a source of envy. The bonus is computed based on equal percentage of salary. Consequently, the lowly paid employees who, in the spirit of Christmas, should receive more gifts get small and the top officials get whoopingly big bonuses. That explains why in the case of the 1,500 workers of Kidapawan City (MindaNews, December 23), the gifts or bonuses ranged from “P2,000 to P35,000”.  This did not happen in Kidapawan City alone.

The inequality of the gift distribution leaves a bitter taste. The lowly employees have to swallow their lot as resignedly or cynically as the Bisayan remark, “Unsaon nato, ang gobyerno dili ato.”

The bigger injustice and the bitterer taste befall the people.  If the government is able to collect so much taxes and generate other sources of revenues, why should the ruling officials be that “generous” to themselves – giving the lowly workers the morsel to hide their mindlessness, if not greed, while they pocket the lion share? Why not appropriate that “surplus” for social services? Taxes collected or whatever revenue generated is people’s money.  The people deserve to benefit first.

That MindaNews report leaves on those with conscience a bitter taste and a pang of injustice. Sadly, the Kidapawan City case is replicated yearly in many other levels of government – from the barangay to the provincial. Unsaon nato, ang gobyerno ilaha, dili ato.Patricio P. Diaz, General Santos City.