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  • Print Edition
  • Title: In Search of Merit
  • Author: Hermenegildo C. Cruz
  • Publisher: Central Book Supply, Inc.
  • ISBN: 978-971-691-633-1
  • No. Of Pages: 631
  • Size: 6"x9"
  • Edition: 2007 Edition
  • Binding: Softbound
  • Description:

    On September 19, 1991, Republic Act 7757, The Foreign Service Act of 1991, was enacted into law. It replaced, Republic Act 708, The Foreign Service Act of the Philippines, which had gone into effect in 1952. The intervening period of thirty-nine years between these two organic Acts may be characterized as persistent and relentless effort to plug the loopholes noted in RA 708. These loopholes had been exploited by the executive branch to undermine the merit system.All of the loopholes and shortcomings noted in RA 708, were finally removed in 1991 when RA 7157 was enacted into a law. In addition, an elaborate system of controls, both internal and external to the DFA, was established to insure proper implementation of the Act. This essay in effect is a narrative of how this system of controls failed and was in fact betrayed by the very officials who were supposed to serve as the guardians in implementing RA 7157.The irony that will emerge as one reads this essay is that it took thirty-nine long years to establish a model structure for the Philippine Foreign Service. It took the Department of Foreign Affairs only two and one half years to completely dismantle the model structure that was established by RA 7157. The DFA has become a dysfunctional organization. A small group of career officers frames laws designed to strengthen the merit system. Once such laws are passed, another group of officers just as promptly dismantles the carefully laid out career structure. An organization that assigns its members to dig holes in the morning and assigns another group to fill up the same hole at the end of the day, will not progress. That is in fact the story of the DFA merit system. In a sense it is also a microcosm of the problems that affects the rest of Philippine society. There are builders and termites operating within the same body politic canceling each other’s work.Even more bothersome is the fact that top officials of the government had participated in the violations of the law. Some of these officials can be removed only by impeachment. In the course of implementing RA 7157, they had invalidated the Act by administrative action. Anytime merit laws enacted by Congress are superseded by administrative action, you have a guaranteed prescription for the destruction of the merit system and the revival of the spoils system. That is what is happening now in the Department of Foreign Affairs.