Asia-Pacific, Philippines, Opinion, Politics

Thinking Case of The Philippines: Tainted Meritocracy

The Philippines is currently a heated pit of controversies and challenges, with the alleged penetration of an international terrorist group and the declaration of Martial Law, it may be deemed that this country is currently being rocked at its bottom.

However, instead of the Filipinos focusing on what contribution they can offer for the resolution of conflicts in one of the country’s major islands, Mindanao, the citizens’ attention is currently focused on the next probable mistake the state-run news agency might make again. And in the past couple of decades, the population’s eyes had never been as watchful.

Tainted Meritocracy

Just recently, a former sex guru and dancer, Mocha Uson, has been appointed as Assistant Secretary for The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). This sector is in charge of the responsible dissemination of information and in the proper accreditation of foreign media partners.

Before the post was given to Uson, who is a well known die-hard supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, Gina Lopez was a candidate for the task. Nonetheless, despite Lopez’s amusing portfolio, with her involvement in different government led and/or non-profit projects, awards, and an Honorary Doctorate Degree, Lopez was rejected as ”someone better is out there.” And apparently, that someone is Uson — who has nothing more in her resume than being paid a debt of gratitude by no other than the Philippine President himself.

As being the ASEC is probably one of the major positions in the government, it is but right to further implement meritocracy. That is hiring or appointing a person based on merits: degree, training, skills, and expertise — which is a system followed by different governments. But in this case, purported articulation and being bright served Uson well instead.

In under three months of Uson in her post, she already had issues about the broadcasting of fake news up her sleeve. Quite ironic as one of her presscon advances was to curb the already rising percentage of false information especially on social media.

Now, why is this a big issue?

First off, her appointment as ASEC for PCOO is deemed an insult to the working class. Uson is reportedly under Salary Grade 29 which means she receives a little over P100, 000.

Nevertheless, the usual workforce earns only about P20,000 and this is in spite of having post-graduate degrees, training, skills, and other certifications.

We can already see how this type of debt-of-gratitude method tarnishes a reputation of a supposed established agency.

First, the PCOO was reported to have used an image of foreign soldiers in an appeal to pray for Filipino ones. Uson’s lack of apologetic explanation worsened the situation and she even attacked the mainstream media that aimed to rectify the mistake by saying that the readers and reactors should use “common sense.” apparently, the photos of foreign soldiers is just “symbolism.” But people in the communication sector are quick to counter what Uson said by stating that “symbolism” is illogically used in that context.

Second, the PCOO broadcasted a visual presentation on Martial Law. But this video that was short-lived purportedly did not even look professional at all. The graphics in 2D were not even visually appealing. Some even dubbed it as “worse than a first grader’s school project.”

Here is the Rub

But then here is the rub. We all know that Uson has no media background and that her first two projects were criticized by different viewers.

What we see in her is this: Uson does not know how to lay low nor to apologize. She tries and justifies her actions thru principles that are taken out of context and that instead of working with mainstream media to improve proper dissemination of information, compete with them.

Some ask, “is she worth our tax money?” Definitely not. Most Filipinos work too hard to meet the requirements of a job post for a salary grade much lower than Uson’s and then here she goes, getting a higher pay than most Filipinos she claims she represents by just being a die-hard Duterte supporter.

If she really is one with the masses, she would have at least made herself qualified and credible for the post. But, as we see, this is one factor why income disparity in the country is worse.

Moreover, though people have taken the watchdog role when it comes to what Uson does next, it was just the outcome of the working class’s hurt ego.

They believe that Uson does not deserve the post, as such magnifies her every move. But the thing here is this, if the last two projects of PCOO is low class, we still need to account that whatever it is, was a collective effort of people behind the department, and not just Uson’s work alone.

What does this tell us? Some people do not do what is expected of them as they know one person will take the blame. Are we saying that the PCOO is manned solely by Uson? Of course not. But why are Filipinos hating her too much?

Because she represents a huge agency and she is not even supposed to be there. But if Uson is deemed incompetent in the first place due to her lack of experience and merits, wouldn’t the individuals in her team know better?

If experienced persons allow an amateur to maneuver the agency’s already defined processes and systems into that at par with a start-up, aren’t they also shortchanging the Filipinos?

Aside from that this shows is that Filipinos tend to lay low in the workplace especially in the presence of authority, it also exhibits that meritocracy is just a fair but failed system in the country. A person appointed or hired for a certain position must have a background and understanding of the principles that govern that particular field. Most importantly, Filipinos must get rid of the passing of the dice attitude and start to work together instead of against each other.

About Patricia Abrihan

Patricia has always been inspired by the witty yet innocent voice of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that she believes that writing is able to revolutionize ideas of society. She is a former college instructor from the Philippines and is currently a freelance writer and blogger managing her portfolio. She is open to collaboration and also loves reading and watching movies.

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