21 February 2007

Internalizing an externality (2)

FROM where I sit, Cabagis's proposal has two upsides: (1) It will regulate this demoralizing practice, limiting it within the 5% cap; and (2) It will give congressmen a convenient excuse not to accommodate constituents beyond the limit. He can always say: "Sorry, but that's the extent the law allows me."

Moreover, it is also realistic in the sense that it bridges the ideal and the real. After all, the fact that it exists even if the current DepEd rules ostensibly call for a meritocracy suggests that it is not working as designed. In this sense, maybe it is one way to go.

But deep inside, I have strong reservations as to whether it will work in the Philippine setting. (1) Knowing the kind of congressmen we have, I am quite sure they will not settle for the 5% limit. You know, the give-them-an-inch-and-they-will-ask-for-a-foot kind of thing. Hell, why even change the rules when they are getting an arm, even more, under the current setup? (2) I'm not sure if voters will buy that excuse at all. Being in the business of making promises, bowing to some cap will make congressmen appear weak and they cannot afford it.

Which reminds me of what Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, Ateneo de Manila president , stressed in his address to the Synergeia mayors in the retreat I attended. One of the lessons, he said, that can be drawn from the book Magaling ang Pinoy! How and Why Public School Students Achieve (which was launched in Marikina that day) is that the fabled Confucian values -- hardwork, single-mindedness towards a purpose, success not being the product of luck -- which are powering China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore today are also found in the Filipino families featured in that book. So, given the right condition, Filipinos can also acquire these values.

The only difference is that thousands of years ago, a Chinese emperor instituted meritocracy by requiring that all appointees to state posts must pass an imperial exam, thereby making it the norm rather than the exception. In our country, it is the other way around. And while it may be true that meritocracy is not the only answer, we really can never say because we haven't truly tried living by the rules that require it in the first place.


Anonymous said...


I shouldn't really be surprised as I read this kind of reaction all too often - it's either the HIGHROAD or the HIGHWAY.

But how do you really know it won't work in some or all cases until you try?

Put yourself in the Congressman's shoes and you do NOT have a conditional limit.

You have all these constituents asking for favours so you simply put everyone who asks on the list.

And by the way, has any of your administrators been harmed in any way for refusing or asking for a shorter list?

Now put yourself in the same Congressman's shoes and
you NOW have a conditional limit.

Besides being able to refuse because of the quota, there is the added disincentive to would be applicants that it is for a remote posting.

I maybe wrong here but even if you did not have interference you will probably be hard pressed to fill-in remote postings of teaching staff anyway.

- Cabagis

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...


In March 2003, there were 80,863 education and teacher training graduates, according to CHED statistics which is available at http://www.ched.gov.ph/statistics/StatBul/AY2003_04/AY_2003_2004_Statistical_Bulletin_mini2.xls .

That's a ratio of 8 for every new permanent item opened by government this year. And that was four years ago.

I have no first-hand info as Naga's public schools are only about 18 kms from end to end. But anecdotal evidence show that new teachers are only too willing to get even the remotest items available. They'll seek transfer later when it becomes possible; the primary consideration is to land that item first.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

And to illustrate the power some congressmen have over the DepEd, a provincial division superintendent in Negros Occidental -- backed by no less than a presidential assistant for that region -- was forced to swap places with a city division superintendent at the behest of an opposing congressman, who happens to be a high ranking official of the House Committee on Basic Education.

Cases like these make you lose hope in the supposed meritocracy that our laws provide.

Of course, your proposal is worth a try when everything else fails -- including the proposed law that seeks to strictly limit legislators to their task of legislation and oversight. In the same manner that my principal has decided to honor the annual DepEd ranking of teachers for the 100 local hires we fund in Naga: our own little contribution to the cause of meritocracy.