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Some Pinoy Public Servants Don't Take Their Jobs Seriously Enough

On May 25, 2012 the Syrian military began bombarding the town of Houla located Empty chairs in the Philippine section at the UNHRC special session in Geneva, Switzerland to condemn the brutal massacre in Houla, Syria. Only the Filipino delegates failed to attendnorth of Damascus in the Homs region of Syria with heavy artillery. The town had become a stronghold of the Free Syrian Army and rebel forces seeking to overthrow the brutal regime of President Bashar Assad. After shelling the town for hours "government militia then went house to house slaughtering entire families without compassion or mercy" according to British Foreign Secretary William Hague who had earlier spoken with United Nations observers as well as independent witnesses inside Syria. 108 civilians were killed that day, 34 of them were women and 49 were children.

Thus on June 1, 2012 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) based in Geneva, Switzerland held a special session to condemn the killings in the strongest of terms. The council meets but thrice a year (March, June and September) and for this special session all but one of its 47 member countries was present—the Philippine delegation was notably absent.

The UNHRC not only voted to condemn Syria in the strongest terms but went further by calling for an an international criminal inquiry into the massacre. 41 members voted in favor of the resolution, Russia, China and Cuba voted against it, Uganda and Ecuador abstained while the Philippine delegation skipped the session altogether.

To underscore the gravity of this brutal act by the Syrian military and paramilitary forces, the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Canada, Britain, Australia, France, Germany and the Netherlands have all expelled the Syrian ambassadors in their respective countries.         

As a people once forced to live under the thumb of a brutal dictator, we should have been the first to decry the brutality of using military might against helpless civilians. A U.S. delegate to the UNHRC delivers her speech while the Philippine section behind her remains emptySadly our clueless and incompetent council delegates chose to forego the chance to stand and be counted on such an important vote.

The President must get to the bottom of this. How can we expect other countries to take us seriously when Filipino delegates themselves, through sheer incompetence or plain lack of interest do not take their jobs seriously? The Filipino people are footing the tab to feed and house those UNHRC delegates in Geneva. For a third-world country where every day one can see street children sniffing glue to stave off hunger pangs, it is revolting to know that the Philippines is throwing away thousands of dollars for inept public employees who would much rather spend their time sightseeing than doing what they’re being paid to do.

We are no longer in the Arroyo years where that kind of behavior by Foreign Service employees was—some would say—tacitly tolerated and—others would argue— even occasionally encouraged. This is now the Aquino administration and we expect there to be “zero tolerance” for that kind of behavior from public employees. So Mr. President we feel it is time to unsheathe your symbolic “presidential bolo” and start some heads a-rolling. Published 6/21/2012


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