Public office for personal motives PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 October 2017 13:59

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

When I was a schoolgirl many years ago my father helped me to get a  card from the library of the United States Information Service (USIS)  which was on the way to my school. I think I started my love for reading at this time.

Many years later I learned that the USIS did not operate within the US itself since this was a service to promote information about the country to other countries. That it was not found within the US itself also meant that the political party in power at any time could not use the service to promote its own objectives among the citizen voters. I  found that wise.

In the Philippines our government runs a radio station, a TV station and an office for communication – all of which can be used by the political party of the sitting administration to promote its own ends. And that is where things can get a little ticklish.

This has been  made very apparent in the recent brouhaha over the words and actions of Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson. She is said to be a blogger with a very large following. In the 2016 election she supported Mr. Duterte and rallied  very many enthusiastic supporters for him which contributed to his decisive win over his opponents. I suppose in gratitude for her role in the election  she was appointed to her current position in his administration.

I am not questioning the appointment as such. But the question in my mind, which is also a question in the mind of many citizens, is this: Holding the position that she does in the Duterte administration and being paid a salary from public funds, is it proper for her to continue her blog, praising him and his actions and trashing those who do not support him?

The specter of freedom of speech then comes up.  We should defend this freedom in every way we can but not at the expense  of upholding the separation of our role as private citizens and our role as employees of the government which pays our salaries  out of public funds.

We cannot carry too far our recognition of our right as private citizens and our obligations as government employees. The bookkeeping in terms of funds spent for our private activities and funds spent for our office responsibilities should be  kept  strictly apart.

I agree with the senator who told Ms. Uson that she should decide which role she wishes to carry on – that of a blogger with a large following or a government official being paid with public money.