Giving civil service a chance

President Benigno S. Aquino III receives a copy of a framed ISO 9001:2008 Registration Certificate of DPWH’s Quality Management System (QMS) presented by Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson during the 117th anniversary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) at the DPWH Quadrangle of the Central Office in Bonifacio Drive Port Area, Manila City on Monday (June 22, 2015). This year’s theme: “DPWH: Sa Daang Matuwid, Para Sa Diyos at Bayan”. (Photo by Lauro Montellano, Jr. / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Who is embarrassed of the government? I guess we all had a fair share ever since our lives began of how terrible the government is. Sharing a few memorable moments, I could remember my first time to vote when I registered in a Commission on Elections office where I literally threw a tantrum because more than 1,000 people are piled up in a narrow alley of Iloilo Terminal Market. It was chaos. Nobody was really helping at all. It was a disappointment. Come 2014, I became a civil engineer and I had to endure a not so systematic process in the Professional Regulations Commission.

Today, things are not as terrible. There has been a lot of improvement. Voter’s registration can be done online and so are some numerous transactions in the government. I remember renewing my professional license in a brief 15 minutes.

As someone who had several traumatic experiences with the services of the government, I always had the idea of entering civil service myself at the back of my head. But never did I expect that I am now in service for more than six years with the dream of becoming a cabinet secretary someday. I never knew that someone like the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino would be that enabler. I never attributed him as a reason of my being in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) where my story all began. But it was really him who started it all.

While I already had a handful of companies in mind, a little opportunity came which I was very much ready to decline – a job order position in DPWH. I did not like the idea to join the organization. As some folks would call it in Hiligaynon, DPWH is synonymous to “Damo Project, Wala Human” (Many projects, nothing completed). I considered what other people would say if I joined DPWH. I did not want to be judged prematurely. But I gave it a chance.

Months have passed and I began to enjoy the job. But the salary and the employment status has kept me hanging. I became part of the organization in February and by May, I was tempted of a teaching position with a scholarship in Manila. Then, here came the announcement which gave me some hope. Thousands of permanent positions in DPWH were approved nationwide. This was part of P-Noy’s unsung efforts in upgrading the DPWH as a competitive and corruption-free organization. Through his appointed Secretary Rogelio Singson, 1,391 positions were created. This effectively increased DPWH’s capital outlay by 202 percent from a mere ₱90.8 Billion in 2011 to ₱273.9 Billion in 2015. I settled as a part-time junior instructor when June came. And come October 2015, I’m officially a civil servant with an Engineer II permanent position in the Planning and Design Division of DPWH Regional Office VI. I thanked my superiors for their trust but I failed to realize that it was all possible because of the people up there – P-Noy and his highly committed Secretary of Public Works and Highways.

Rumors even had it that those with endorsements from congressmen and other influential people were automatically rejected and to some point, blacklisted. It was really a “cleansing” for the organization.

Interestingly, these newly created positions were not for everyone. It gave the younger generation an advantage and a chance of a lifetime. It was only open to engineers aged 30 and below. Considerations were made for highly exceptional job order employees who did not fit the minimum criteria but had been an asset in the organization. Selections did not have a “padrino system”. It was purely based on merit and scholastic achievement. Rumors even had it that those with endorsements from congressmen and other influential people were automatically rejected and to some point, blacklisted. It was really a “cleansing” for the organization.

Prior to this, several hardworking people also leveled up with their career in DPWH in the time of Sec. Singson. He assured the top management and the middle-managers who got promoted (based on merit) that he has their back. All that he wants from them is to uphold the quality policy of the Department – to implement the RIGHT PROJECTS at the RIGHT COST determined through transparent and competitive bidding; with the RIGHT QUALITY, according to international standards; delivered RIGHT ON TIME through close monitoring of project implementation; and carried out by the RIGHT PEOPLE who are competent and committed to uphold the values of public service, integrity, professionalism, excellence, and teamwork.

So if I am to think of the bigger picture, it is not just the people I got acquainted with who are the reasons behind my career and my passion as an Ilonggo engineer. I can safely say that it came from P-Noy’s minute, under-praised, somehow forgotten and unsung effort and support in appointing a very driven, passionate and steadfast DPWH Secretary in the person of Sec. Singson that we, young engineers, have become catalysts in the overall direction of the infrastructure boom that this country is experiencing now. I may not be in the same organization at present but my heart to civil service was able to grow because I was given the chance. Thank you, P-Noy.

If I were to earn a cabinet position someday, I will leave a space for your name in my speech – not for political interests but simply because you were the enabler for many of us young Filipinos to become civil servants and to be the change we want our country to be. Thank you for making me realize that I can give civil service a chance.

Published by Ilonggo Engineer

Ilonggo Engineer or Ray, is a civil engineer and a writer who strongly advocates for road safety, technology literacy, and social equity.

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