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The Juan Tamads of government

Filipinos who have had the same infuriating experience as Marge Caparas, president of a non-government organization called the Community of Filipino Teachers Inc., are circulating the photo of Alejandro San Juan, assessment division chief of the Bureau of Internal Revenue-Pasig office, where it appeared he was taking a nap on his chair while a young female personnel seemed to be plucking (white) hair from his head.

Caparas, who posted the said photo on her Facebook page, went to the BIR-Pasig office early on September 10 to have some documents processed and was dismayed to find out that the people whose signatures were needed usually arrive late or worse, go on extended birthday leaves.

In her very detailed account, Caparas related the frustration she felt when, after being made to wait and then passed on to the assessment division, she was told that the person in charge—“usually” arrives after lunch. San Juan did get to work by noon (the BIR is supposed to have a “No Lunch Break” policy to make sure that public service should be continuous) but instead of getting down to work, he supposedly took his own sweet time settling down, then decided to take it easy, lolled back on his chair and got a female employee to pluck out his hair. What, the BIR office is also a beauty salon and the junior personnel are attendants?

Worse, the other person whose signature was needed, a certain Ms. Ethel (could be Revenue Officer II Etheline Villareal) had been on birthday leave since Monday. And since there is no one else who can sign for the documents Caparas needed, she just has to wait until the absent Ms. Ethel decides to show up. Meantime, work stops. Things like this make us suspect that this is one of the reasons why the BIR comes out with funny memo circulars telling people that if they receive no word on their application (for refunds for example), after a certain period of time, their application is deemed denied. Convenient, isn’t it, since these government employees whose salaries are paid for by us taxpayers, can just continue in their merry ways, arriving late for work, sit on the documents—and we’d all be none the wiser.

The issue about San Juan has since reached the ear of BIR chief Kim Henares who sent an investigation team—but of course some of San Juan’s underlings came to his rescue, claiming that he wasn’t feeling well that day and had a migraine. So? Was it part of the young female employee’s job to relieve him of his migraine by plucking out his hair or massaging his head? Why didn’t he just go on extended leave like his colleague and spare taxpayers the frustration of seeing such a lethargic kind of service?

But then again, it’s not only in the BIR where we see Juan Tamads in government. They’re still as ubiquitous--in hospitals, LGUs, GFCs, GOCCs and other public offices. Even if they clock in at 8:00 a.m., they spend the good part of an hour taking breakfast, putting on makeup (the women) or talking bull (the men), before they start looking on the papers on their desks, doing everything in slow motion, every now and then looking at something on their cell (texting or maybe even checking the latest news feed on FB), oblivious to the growing irritation of the people waiting to be served.

A call has been issued at Trending Pinoy Videos (http://trendingpinoyvideos.com/junk-lazy-bir-employees-an-open-letter-to-the-masses/) for “a nationwide surprise audit of all government offices. And by this, we do not mean it being done by the embattled Commission on Audit. A significant fraction of the Filipino population has grown weary of the rusty system that is referred to as the Republic of the Philippines. It is about time to weed out the parasites in the government so that a new breed of leadership can take charge. Every individual who is regarded as the ‘boss’ of this administration has the capability to air out their disappointment on the dismally poor performance of a number of government employees. To set the record straight, we are not jumping into hasty generalizations.

We are calling for a revamp of personnel—a dismissal of those purposely abandoning their duties and responsibilities. The masses should have a say on who to retain and who to let go since the taxes they pay are the ones that feed these lazy employees. As if the stringent paperwork required so as to process a government issued document is not tiring enough for a client, some employees opt to prolong their bosses burden by making them wait longer than the usual, the group said.

These Juan Tamads of government should know better. Taxpayers are now armed with smartphones and other gadgets that can capture or record their misdeeds and have the same uploaded on social media networks—where it will go viral and they end up being the talk of the town. Let’sb see what the BIR investigation team will come out with.

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