Why Chief Purisima is the wrong culprit


A right proper car for the Chief? Yugo 101 Skala.

I think Filipinos believe that public servants are supposed to be poor. And they are supposed to like it.

Well, they don’t, of course, which is why most employees at most government offices are uninspired or downright cranky.

We have a government of cranky paupers.

Much of the enthusiasm for low pay emanates from leftists who say they represent “the people” but who actually have the support of precious few of them.

The socialists project a strident view of things based on ancient ideologies formulated by Chairman Mao and long ago given up by any but the lunatic part of the left. But their loud sloganeering succeeds in browbeating the nation into believing everyone should get paid what rice planters get paid. Just to be fair.

Their voices are also reflected in the Constitution, an anti-Marcosian document that was written to stifle the powers of the few in government. It inadvertently gave the Supreme Court the power to stop the nation dead in its tracks.

Well, today I will offer up a view contrary to leftist socialistic engineering and sloganeering. I will go against the grain of popular sentiment, which is highly critical of government officials. I will argue for higher pay for national government executives. Including the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

I’ll argue that the Philippines needs to pay top government officials what their job responsibilities are worth.

PNP Chief Purisima

During a recent hearing in which she climbed all over PNP Chief Purisima for accepting gifts and not being responsive to people’s mistrust of the police, Senator Poe asked Mr. Purisima how much he made. “P107,000” he answered. That is per month, and at that point, had I been Ms. Poe, my shoulders would have sagged, and I would have stopped beating up on the guy.

Because for his huge responsibilities, he is paid like an indigent. And we ought not beat up on paupers.

Instead, Senator Poe took his poor condition, flipped it upside down, inside out, and backwards and used it to castigate the guy for accepting favors, like an official residence at Camp Crame and a secure (armored) car befitting the head of the national police force.

Well, accepting favors appears to be illegal, so I suppose even indigents have to own up to the law now and then. But it is a shame that the national pay policies push so many government officials toward lawbreaking.

I mean, do you ever wonder why there is so much cheating on the edge of politics? Why there is so much sliding toward corruption? Do you think it is inbred within the Filipino DNA?

Or might there be social reasons, practical reasons, reasonable reasons?

I’d suggest the main reason is because government people with big responsibilities can’t hold their heads high on what they get paid.

At 44.75 pesos per dollar, the top cop in the Philippines gets paid $2,391 per month. My daughter, a sales clerk at Bed Bath and Beyond in the U.S., gets paid more than that. A Filipino friend of mine pilots a small oil tanker and makes P250,000 a month.

The only way to get any esteem in these parts is to beg, borrow or steal it. By borrow, I mean “I’ll do a favor for you in my official capacity, if you will do a favor for me, like loan me a nice car”.

So why in the world are people outraged that Mr. Purisima wants to live a life commensurate with the service he provides to the nation? Which from time to time has put him in a life-threatening position, I might add.

People ought to be outraged that the nation pays so little in TANGIBLE regard for his services. Not outraged that he wanted a nice car, or has built a nice home that is for sure not a mansion.

Chief Purisima is not the right culprit here. WE ARE, for not taking proper care of our nation’s top executives. We listen too much to leftist totalitarians. We bend too much to our own wariness of the powerful. We play the crab.

Cabinet Secretary Salaries

Let’s consider how much Cabinet secretaries get paid. I discovered that the Commission on Audit (COA) does an annual report listing salaries for some 8,000 government employees. Here’s the link to the report, a 9.3 megabyte PDF file: COA 2013 Report on Salaries and Allowances

Starting on page 217, the report lists the officials from highest paid to lowest paid. Chief Purisima ranks number 1,172 at P1,368,350 per year (page 237).

I personally think the guy is getting jobbed, gyped, yanked about . . . screwed . . . given that people above him include about 1,000 no-names who don’t have his extraordinary responsibilities, have never risked their life except to ride on MRT, and have never been humiliated at a Senate committee meeting.

One name that is just above him at rank 1,155 is Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Kim Henares, paid P1,376,381 last year. So the lady who is responsible for raising trillions of pesos to take care of all of us gets paid chicken feed. These pay amounts are “all in”, I would add, and include salary, incentives and any discretionary payments that someone, these days, would be foolish to offer.

Here are the top 10 cabinet chiefs, as compiled by philstar.com (thanks for the work, philstar; that COA PDF file is a bummer to work with):

Rank Name Department 2013 Salary (Pesos) US Dollars at 44.75 P/$
1 Proceso Alcala Agriculture 6,040,000 134,972
2 Rosalinda Baldoz Labor and Employment 2,294,000 51,262
3 Leila de Lima Justice 2,188,000 48,893
4 Enrique Ona Health 2,164,000 48,357
5 Patricia Licuanan Com on Higher Education 2,102,000 46,972
6 Jericho Petilla Energy 2,062,000 46,078
7 Florencio Abad Budget 2,018,000 45,094
8 Mario Montejo Science & Tech 1,990,000 44,469
9 Joseph Emilio Abaya Transportation 1,921,000 42,927
10 Voltaire Gazmin Defense 1,916,000 42,816

A matter of relativity

Well, comparing my daughter’s salary to Mr. Purisima’s is rather absurd because we know wage scales are very different in the U.S. than it the Philippines.

But it is important to recognize that there are GLOBAL prices for goods in the Philippines (cars, electronics, air travel) and there are LOCAL prices for goods (food, local transportation and construction costs). The higher a government official goes, the more global prices intrude into his lifestyle.

Chief Purisima is being condemned . . . and, indeed, the LAWS appear to condemn him . . . for receiving the favor of a big, modern car. I guess the standard of transportation for Philippine government executives like Mr. Purisima and other officials is a 1994 Toyota Corolla Or maybe we could import a fleet of old Yugos like that pictured above.

Red is a nice color, don’t you think?

Ahhh, I fear my cynicism is becoming overbearing.

But really, how does the nation get and keep talent if the Philippines does not pay globally competitive wages for skill positions? Management is a skill position, believe it or not. Not every Inquirer discussion thread commenter can REALLY do it, although they seem to think it is easy. Being a legislator is also a skill position, but don’t tell Manny Pacquiao, Imelda Marcos or Nancy Binay about that.

I have to chuckle in amusement at the conundrums that are generated by the pay/skill dilemma.

  • co·nun·drum, kəˈnəndrəm, noun, a confusing and difficult problem or question. [google]

There are two of them:

  1. If the Philippines pays top wages to attract skilled managers and technicians, salaries inflate and the Philippines loses its competitive advantage. That is likely to happen in the call center business sooner rather than later.
  2. The nation has to decide how to compete: on the basis of talent or low wages. The method in the past has been low wages and we get what we got. A corrupt, non-competitive nation in which people are forced to cheat to have a decent lifestyle.

The answer to both dilemmas is to get skilled very, very fast. Get globally competitive before the cost advantage erodes.

Why the Left goes nuts over the income differential

The absurdity of the income differential is totally in the private sector where the top moguls make billions and the people eat salt on their rice. Here’s what the absurdity looks like if we look at the obscene rewards granted to top corporate executives in the United States, courtesy of Forbes:

  • John Hammergren, McKesson, $131,200,000
  • Ralaph Lauren, Ralph Lauren, $66,700,000
  • Michael Fascitelli, Vornado Realty, $64,400,000
  • Richard Kinder, Kinder Morgan, $60,900,000
  • David Cote, Honeywell, @55,800,000

The leftist extremists cite this “greed” in their sloganeering. Capitalistic imperialists. Money grubbers. As if money were inherently evil rather than simply a way to get transactions done. Leftists would likely want Philippine cabinet officials to get paid less so that the poor people they represent can get paid more, and that’s where I depart company with their thinking.

Because the guy who is responsible for policing the entire nation of the Philippines is way, way, way . . . way . . .  down the Forbes list:

  • Chief Alan Purisima, PNP, $30,577

So that’s agreeable to you?

Not to me.

The solution: professionalize pay scales

I think the Philippines needs to make a commitment to skill. Not to equality of pay based on a low-wage model. It needs to commit to capitalism, with its energy and drive for production and wealth. Not socialism.

And along with the commitment to skill should be a commitment to accountability. That is, results.

The private sector in the Philippines is not where the problem rests. The rich drive nice cars and have several nice homes. They do what any unregulated capitalist would do, capture and dominate markets as they are supposed to in order to make even more money next year. The problem is totally in the government sector, which, unfortunately, looks a lot like a big red Yugo. And that Yugo is polished by the rich, who chuckle all the way to the bank. And the Yugo doesn’t pass laws to equalize the distribution of wealth just a little bit better.

So my recommended solution?

Upgrade executive pay and competence in government. Now. Fast. In a material way.

And WITH the upgrade, increase the demand for performance.

  • No more sloppy bidding from DOTC, and no more busted trains.
  • No more favor trading from anybody.
  • A defense force that is regimented and military it its execution.
  • An energy plan that is meticulous and forward thinking.
  • A national broadband plan that demands providers meet minimum GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE access and speed standards.
  • Get to work on laws that prevent the entitled from ripping off the people (end bank secrecy that hides the corrupt; pass anti-trust and anti-dynasty laws; pass FOI).

Fire non-performers, don’t coddle them.

If you choose to punish Chief Purisima, do it because police performance is lousy. Not because he wants a nice car.

Start improvements with the cabinet secretaries and the senate. Not the House. I personally would not pay that pack of rabble any more than what they are worth, which for many – including Manny Pacquiao and Imelda Marcos – is less than what they are now paid.

Double key management salaries RIGHT NOW, and then step them up 25% per year for five years.

And Mr. President, loyalty on a personal basis goes out the window. The only criterion for keeping someone . . . or not . . . is job performance. Personal loyalty is a soft form of favor-trading. It is not straight path at all.

With all due respect, Mr. President. The bottom line is that you have a job to do. And they have a job to do. So all of you get to work.

And as step one of your dedication to the job, get your subordinates well paid. It is essential infrastructure for a straight path.


53 Responses to “Why Chief Purisima is the wrong culprit”
  1. sonny says:

    Ohhhh, my head!! Joe, where to begin?? For now, let me say that ex-senator Saguisag has been hammering this to our group: take care of the caretakers first with that tipping-point salary threshold that will safeguard the good will that keeps the caretaker doing his best version of caretaking!

  2. Dick s o'rosary says:

    I’m afraid you’re missing the point of why people are angry. No one is contesting that the salaries of government officials are so low. And I agree with you that they need to be raised–but to let them off the hook, if it is beyond doubt that they have engaged in corrupt activities, is just wrong. Unexplained wealth represents favors, favoritism, bribes and a host of other ills that are clearly against the common good. Say for a moment that the cars and houses were gifts for saving someone who had been kidnapped,

    Again, getting low salaries is not an excuse to engage in corrupt or even the appearance of impropriety BECAUSE he is a government official. Neither is it an excuse for poor performance because being the head of the police force, his performance represents lives lost, property stolen/destroyed, jobs, drugs on the street. What did that Aegis video say again?–“less security” was it? And the same goes for every high level government official out there, regardless of his position, because whatever he does will always have an effect on Filipino lives and the economy. Same for low-level officials to a lesser degree. Need I also remind you that unexplained wealth is what got Justice Corona impeached (something I’m sure you approve of). The premise of course is that government is not a business or profit making enterprise, but rather, it exists for the common good.

    There is indeed one theory that says that corruption should just be considered as a mere “transaction cost”. It’s acceptability premised on the condition that the bribe (or cronyism) is supposed to make the service that government provides more efficient.* Something which just does not exist in the Philippines. This makes Purisima’s perceived corruption all the more unacceptable.

    *I’ll email to you the paper, if you could send me a personal message. Its an old paper I read back in college, but I think it still applicable to today.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m not arguing to excuse Purisima from the law. I’m arguing you can’t pay someone so ridiculously far below his responsibilities. He’ll cheat on the edges to find a way to “show” that he earns what he OUGHT to be worth. I’m looking for the root of corruption, not saying excuse it.

      You can ship your message to me at the e-mail address in the “Contact Us” tab.

      • Dick s o'rosary says:

        Well then, IF thats all you wanted to say, then I’ll agree with you there. I can’t really argue against that.

  3. Feels great to be back. I hope you have the same sentiments, Joe. HAHAHA

    First, the premise of the article seems this way: upgrade payscale then increase demand for performance then the achievers will rise and non-performing assets will fall.
    (Emphasis: In Philippine government context?!)

    First problem is that, in practice, things won’t work that way.

    It’s common knowledge the rising in govt is a matter of connections, influence, patronage, favor-trading and the like.

    Increasing the pay scales would just intensify the palakasan (nepotism & other related concepts). Why? Coz of the bigger incentive– higher remuneration.

    Second, there are many top govt officials who were already rich prior to entering govt “service.”

    A market-based pay scale won’t be the key to a period of “enlightenment.”

    My Suggestion: I prefer shrinking govt — taxes are included — and improve Private-Public Partnership (PPP);set up accountability and transparency mechanisms on investors to discourage “bad PPPs.”

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, very good to have you back, David. I trust you’ve been busy stirring up trouble for someone else in the meantime . . . ahahahaha

      I agree that the bureaucracy is bloated. I’m doing a piece on DOE. Gadzooks, 60 subordinate departments and divisions, many with overlapping responsibilities. I’d cut department budgets but raise pay scales for a few key people within each department. They can figure out what fat to trim to get their own salaries up. Nepotism does exist, but is a separate matter from the pay/accountability issue.

      The problems won’t get corrected overnight, but the movement ought to be toward professionalism.

      PPP is a good idea, I think. But again, is a different topic. And they’d run better if the managers in the public part of the partnership were professional . . . well paid and fired if they are not performing.

      • Yes, you’re right on the movement needs to be toward professionalism in general.

        In low-skilled and middle management govt positions, merit-based HR management and remuneration are very much possible.

        The challenge is at the top echelons, where party mates, business partners, former classmates, celebrity endorsers and the like can be found.

        • Joe America says:

          The goal ought to be to get some normal people into politics at the top echelons. Anti-dynasty law and the internet to bring to the top people like Leni Robredo . . . who knows? Or yourself, for instance . . .

  4. josephivo says:

    Just for my information, when was the last leftist government in the Philippines creating this situation? Currently the liberal party is in charge, the opposite of a leftist party I thought. The one percent in a free market need weak governments (= badly paid officials) to maximize their profits via rent mechanism. In leftist countries only top government officials have decent salaries. Please argue on facts, not feelings.

    Some additional thoughts:

    Knowledge is money and many politicians/officials end up in board of directors and other lucrative positions interested in their knowledge (connections). Then they get huge compensations to pay off debts or create wealth for their children. E.g.: A “discount” for police chief to get him later in the Philippine Toyota board of directors is not such a crazy idea.

    Many have “side lines” and supposed to pay taxes on those incomes. But tax evasion is an art easier to master in the murky free market job than in a transparent government positions (except if your name is Binay).

    Agree with the main idea of the article, formal wages are crazy in the Philippines. Competing only low wages is stupid. Especially if you have so many talented people to compete on innovation, speed, flexibility, style… What a waste.

    • Joe America says:

      LP is contrarian to the left parties, but still pushes programs like conditional cash transfer as a quick fix to “inclusion” for poor people. As for arguing facts, refer to my exhaustive biography above and my feelings about the little monsters. It was hell going to COA’s site to find some data. I can avoid emotional arguments if you wish, but I may use fiction or storytelling or allegory or common sense.

      That is an interesting thought, Purisima on the board of this company or that. The Philippines needs a speaking circuit like the Clintons are on in the US. You know, P107,000 per speech, then, after they retire, people who have given their sweat and blood to the Philippines for duck squat can finally make some money.

      • josephivo says:

        Conditional cash transfer as a quick fix to “inclusion” for poor people is a World Bank recommendation to reduce poverty inheritance. The WB is not the most leftist organization by my knowledge. Emotions based on facts, fine. Emotions on feelings contradicted by facts?

        • Joe America says:

          I agree with David Webb, if the issue is “leftist” then let’s define it. I define it as outspoken political people in the Philippines who claim to represent best interests of the poor people and believe that they can serve them best by dismantling the existing government in order to replace it with a government that is not defined and is run by people who have not demonstrated they have the capacity to govern, or even gain popular backing. In other words, malcontents with an idea but no pragmatic wisdom or wit or capacity to sell it broadly, either to the poor or the entitled who run things. The most extreme of them are the NPA and communist rebels who endorse the ISIS method of death, destruction, intimidation and terrorism to achieve said nebulous and largely self-serving aims. The best of them are found in Walden Bello who works rationally within the system to build a more compassionate government.

          What facts are you looking for, exactly? And better than me running off to track down facts for a problem I’m not sure I recognize, maybe you could find the appropriate facts so that I don’t spin my wheels looking for something that won’t do the job.

    • Josephivo’s “politicians/officials in board of directors” claim is also related to my take on this; professionalizing the top echelons is a great challenge.

      Aside from Presidents who need to reward their allies, “rent-granting” positions– such as DOTC or ERC head– are so lucrative that those trapo scoundrels will never let go of the old patronage system.

      Second, the “paying govt officials crumbs” is not solely a leftist idea. I always heard US Republicans — they are surely right-leaning– champion “small government,” including budget cuts, layoffs or salary cuts.

      It’s off-topic but using the term “leftist” is just too vague, considering the varying strands of left-leaning thoughts.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Mama Mia! Caramba! Php104,000/month !!! That is Php1,456,000.00/year including mid and 13th legislated bonuses! His take home pay in U.S. Dollar is roughly $1,477.04 per month and bonuses or roughly Php65,000/month !!!

    After deductions, first 500k is 125k in taxes. Excess of 500k is taxed at 34% !!! I make four times more than this chap !!! Well, Purisima has battalion of drivers, phalanx of PMA bodyguards bristling show-off H&Ks and fleets of Italian choppers, flotilla of 2nd-hand Hamilton-class yachts and most of all respect which I do not. For sure, If I ever get kidnapped by Abu Sayaf the U.S. Armed Forces and the President are “behind” me that should give the Philippine government quaking in their Armanis.

    • macspeed says:

      ha ha ha ha its like a Queen song…mama mia…easy come easy go..
      I am happy to see you here…

      Well, I am still at Saudi Arabia doing what ever to help Saudi Arabia be on his own he he he…

      Well, see yah…I got to work here, I don’t want to work down there in Philippine, I might steal with meager salary, not enough for my wife “ukay ukay”…he he he but branded…


      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        You are my Hero and so are the rest of the 12,000,000 Filipinos abroad scraping and carting off balikbayan-full of money to prop-up the economy. As you can see, the increase in GDP correlates to increase in OFW remittances based on my elementary mathematics.

        Each of the 12,000,000 OFWs supports a spouse and two children that equates to a total of 48,000,000!!! The OFWs are supporting half of the population of the Philippines by working abroad. WE ARE THE HERO !!!

    • Joe America says:

      Please handle josephivo’s request for facts. You are a font of statistical enlightenment this morning. And you also remind me that I need to get some Armani cut-offs to complete my wardrobe in the local style.

  6. Holy moly! I agree that there is a systemic flaw that causes public officials to deal with corrupt practices. How do we fix this? I am under the impression that an overhaul of some agency that handles civil service pay and performance is badly needed. Will that be the Philippines Civil Service Commission? I am under the impression it is, after reading their mandate: http://web.csc.gov.ph/cscsite2/2014-02-20-02-22-48/2014-02-20-02-29-25

    It is time for the Philippines to streamline the various agencies and look for function redundancies. This is the reason why one has to go through a maze to transact with the government. Streamlining the government could also result in savings that could be utilized to give government officials and other civil servants their much needed pay boost.

    • Joe America says:

      Time to do an expose on the PCSC . . . I may borrow Ted Failon’s helicopter to do a fly-over of the estates these hoity toity commissioners probably live in. I note that one of their mandates is:

      “Promulgate policies, standards and guidelines for the Civil Service and adopt plans and programs to promote economical, efficient and effective personnel administration in the government;”

      Efficient, huh . . .

      I think I’ll probably catch them lolling in their infinity pools, because they are not working very hard on efficiency . . .

      • LOL. Its looks like in the Philippines: when crap hits the ceiling, copters come out a-flyin.’ And vice versa. (Marcoses fleeing PI to Hawaii and Failon to stir the pot on Purisima. I read the BRC resource person, Mercado did a fly-over photography of the alleged Binay’s Batangas estate too).

  7. macspeed says:

    @Joe Am,
    I’m with you for salary standardization for government top officials and so as the employee down the line or organizational charts should have adjustment. Corruption will diminish.
    However, those who have been guilty of corruptions, should be punished or return the money they got through stealing or manipulating. For the favor, forget about it, it’s already consumed and stored in shit chamber or “poso negro”.
    Well, the leftist are communist, they sprouted like mongo plants spreading communism is good and capitalism is bad. They have twisted the brain of youngster, specially those out of school youths. They will never have successful adventure to convert Philippine to communism. Just look at Hongkong right now, it will be a domino effect, the whole China is sick and tired of communism , they can feel freedom within themselves.

    ha ha ha isaw MRP ha ha ha ha he is still alive and kicking, wow he is a nice man…

    • Joe America says:

      Well, mac, MRP is the heart of the Society, as you are the soul, and I am the . . . um . . . probably backside on occasion. I agree the corrupt should be punished for their deeds and I look forward to the three plundering senators (alleged) scrounging up the hundreds of millions they stole, and likely already spent. As for Purisima, if he has to pay anything back, I’ll lend it to him interest free.

    • josephivo says:

      “Leftists are communists”. It is not because apples are fruits that all fruits are apples. Please don’t mix definitions. On top not all communists understood communism as not all Catholics understood Jesus teachings. (Napoles, gold in the Vatican, pedophile priests, inquisition….)

      Government satisfaction is over 80% in China, less than 40% in the Philippines. Related to the difference of poverty reduction in both countries? School youth might be more looking at figures and facts, less to century old rhetoric.

      • Joe America says:

        I provided my definition of leftist used for this article, and I think it is fairly consistent with how most Filipinos view the people who collect now and then on Roxas to protest things. You have a different definition, and it excludes communists, and that is fine. You can use your definition for your purposes.

        My intent was to recognize that there are forces at work that affect pay policies. One, the nation is poor. Many poor people are envious of people who make a lot of money, and don’t want them to get any more of it. They would object to any proposal to raise government salaries. Two, certain political blocks – by whatever name – are critical of rich people, and view the government power structure as a part of that block of entitlement.
        My point is that those influences should be disregarded. The pay of executive managers in government, who’s good judgment, or bad, gets multiplied down through the organization, ought to be based on the weight of responsibility assigned to the position. When all job responsibilities are properly weighted, one above the other, there is a hierarchy of responsibility that represents the career path for people that incents them to work hard to climb to greater responsibility and salary.

        When the pay scale is flat, there is no incentive to climb and we miss the drive of capitalism toward efficiency, wealth and good return. When a position is paid below that of the responsibility weighting, we either get unskilled people filling the job, or skilled people who are unhappy, or even skilled and unskilled people who use the job as an inroad to other sources of wealth. As in corruption.

        So I suppose we can just dispense with attaching a label to the political blocks that are “pro-poor” and “anti-rich”. I’m saying, whatever the forces are that have produced a salary of P107,000 per month for Chief Purisima, they need to be disregarded because they harm the Philippines. They hurt its competence and productivity.

        • josephivo says:

          Totally agree with the need to increase salaries of top officials. World leader in salary scales and there justification is Hay. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hay_Guide_Chart) Salaries are “hygiene” factors, too low decreases performance, raises above accepted salaries do not increase performance. (accepted is what others in similar positions get, hence Hay) (acceptance is at an amazing low level in the Philippines).

          But I do not agree with the root cause analysis. Low salaries and thus more incompetent officials are a blessing for all those seeking to make money from rent, thus not the poor. Poor people compare with equals and the next level up, not with top officials. They don’t “feel” the difference between a million, 10 million or a billion peso. (Purisima and Binay do) Poor people assess empathy/compassion or arrogance of the rich, not their income or wealth. Again, the top earners (Sy and consort) have enough firing power to lobby for increased salaries of Purisima and consorts but they don’t. Dependent officials are much easier to manipulate and so maximize Sy’s profits. The root cause are the extreme rich, not the leftists or poor.

          (Leftist/communist was addressed at Macspeed’s comment)

          • Joe America says:

            A strong case that it is the rich, not the poor, behind the low pay scales. Perhaps both are factors. We at least agree on the need to increase salaries.

          • jolly cruz says:

            I think joe didnt exatly say that it was the poor but those who say that they represent the interests of the poor (in his argument, he calls these people leftists) who are the cause of low wages for govt executive positions which require a hgh level of education, managerial skills and strategic thinking, He is right on that score, How many times have we seen the likes of Renato Reyes, Colmenares, Ridon, Tinio etc. speak out against technocrats who are only after improving govt services. They think that govt service is charity work.

            These “leftists” are not really after improving the lot of the poor because if the lot of the poor is improved, they (the leftists) become irrelevant. How many times have they blocked fare inceases in the mrt/lrt in the guise of protecting the commuters. They take advantage of the ignorance of the poor regarding the true fares being charged by the MTR of HK and Sing, the BART in san Fo the bulllet trains in Japan, etc.

            The “leftists” are teaching our poor the wrong values. They want them to be mendicants. Always asking for freebies. Hey, Makabayan Group, nothing in this world is free. You want improvement, you have to work/pay for it.

            • josephivo says:

              The “leftists” do not exist, as the “Catholics” do not exist. First I read about Jesus from Nazareth and his concern with the poor and then l (just) visited the Vatican, being blown away with all the marble and gold, it makes me ask questions about the real ambition of the church. Do I still believe in the message of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself? Yes. Do I still believe that a triumphalistic church and baroque churches are the solution? No. (Same goes if you read about pedophile priests, or the theological discussions on the true nature of Jesus, or the Inquisition and the Christian equivalents of ISIS…)

              Leftist for me are those concerned for a more equal society where solidarity rules, where those blessed with a better heritage are stimulated by a democratic government to share their blessings (and exceptionally some collect wealth by their talents). Leftist are those who believe that a 100% free market does not work, that a government is needed to keep the playing field leveled to give a chance at the less powerful. Did some highjack this notions for other purposes? Yes. But I still believe in the principles.

              How comes that rent seeking (making money by other ways than just creating wealth) is correlates with corruption, dynasties, weak states, lack of (real) democracy… ? Could it not be that those in (real) power, those who have (real) influence know that a status quo, that they benefit them more from the current systems than from real progress (= creating more real wealth)? Look at how they spent money to support academes and media to scare people for (real) progressive ideas, how they finance lobbying. Did the 12,000,000 OFW’s find a job abroad just by chance or were they driven by the lack of productive, wealth creating jobs here? (need a separate bog for all examples)

              Purisima as a weak manager with “light” (?) corruption, with little real influence is the ideal scapegoat, Binay is not. Who “finances” the hunt?

              • edgar lores says:

                There are no leftists per Joseph’s definition.

                But at least one Catholic exists – Sonny.

                Francis may not be a Catholic as he is not averse to granting Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried. He may be a leftist though.

  8. I agree, to get and keep the best managers, the government must upgrade their compensation.

    If that is the case. if some families of those he helped free from kidnappers wanted to gift him with a discounted bullet free car, he would not be tempted to accept so he can feel secure going about his duties…the white house he does not own… it will be the residence of the next PNP, would it be right to classify that as a donation to the government and not to any specific PNP chief? The mansion in the province… heck, my cousin’s house is grander than that…

    So many are mentioning the SALN as basis for pointing out that a government employee cannot afford to purchase a big property and have a nice house constructed on it based on his not so big salary…. they are saying that multi million properties are undervalued in the SALN… my point is when were all those lots and house bought and constructed…if the property appreciated that much now compared to its value in 1998. would that constitute graft?.. what if this guy is not at all a spendthrift and decided to live frugally so he can invest his earnings in real estate (as I do), would that make him corrupt… the SALN requires the acquisition cost, assessed value and the market value of the properties so that when sold, any increase in his total assets are justified but acquisition cost (the money from his salary used to purchase the land IN 1998) and the market value (the current value NOW) are two different amounts… the market value NOW cannot be the basis to conclude that he is corrupt.

    His mistake in not declaring it for tax purposes in 1998 is unfortunate and has muddled the issue, and he paid for that mistake with penalties to the assessor and also with assumptions and conclusions aired by Ted Failon in his program…if they can prove their accusations, so be it, but its not fair to flay him now as if he is the worst monster of all before he is proven to be one.

  9. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe,

    In every TV Patrol broadcast that has a thief caught by the police, the thief will always cite poverty as the thing that prompted him/her to steal. I think the Philippines should turn away from worldly possessions. A nation of Buddhists we shall become. Either that or governments should be run by millionaires.

    Anyway, regardless of how much these people make, they can always resign and do something else instead of take advantage of their position. It’s a free country. Maybe we can follow the Chinese model and “institutionalize” taking advantage of government positions. After that, we can have our own Facebook, Twitter and Google. Have government regulate all media. No more “visible complaints” from the people. Kidding.

    Ethical behavior is something that should be there even if they make one peso or a million pesos. However, I agree with the idea that governments are run by humans, not unfeeling robots, and are likely to falter along the way. I agree with the idea that people should at least have a tough time deciding whether he or she should accept a favor or a “bribe.”


    • Joe America says:

      It is not such a free country for people who are skilled to find a job commensurate with their skill, so I think there are a lot of people occupying jobs that are beneath their ability. There are also those that are under-performing in the job, whatever it is paid, and they should be fired. And corruption should be condemned anywhere at any time. Cheers. We are mostly well aligned, I think.

  10. edgar lores says:

    1. I was wondering from what angle JoeAm would present his contrarian view on Purisima, and I am… surprised. So it comes down to wages, hey?

    2. The first thing off my mind is that the comparison should not be between Philippine government officials and top corporate executives in the US. The proper comparison should be between the public sector and the private sector within the country.

    2.1. I take it that the salary imbalance tilts in favour of the private sector. Purisima gets P1,368,350 while a good General/Operations Manager gets P4,186,085. (The median is P739,612.)

    2.2. So Purisima gets a third of a private sector counterpart. Can someone confirm this?
    Source: http://www.payscale.com/research/PH/Job=General_%2f_Operations_Manager/Salary)

    2.3. Tentative conclusion: Public sector employees are grossly underpaid.

    3. The second thing off my mind is the question: is low pay at the root of corruption? Or to put it another way: Will a high pay be a deterrent against corruption?

    3.1. Expressed negatively, the answer that leaps to mind is: Yes, low pay is a cause of corrupt behaviour. Proof: government employees who will not perform their tasks until grease money is handed over.

    3.2. Expressed positively, the answer that leaps to mind is: No, high pay is as much a deterrent to corruption as the death penalty is to serious crimes. Proof: Corona and the three senators languishing in detention.

    3.3. Tentative conclusion: the framing of the question suggests the answer.

    4. To me, it does not matter what your pay is. That is a given condition of the job, and it is a condition you accept. You must therefore perform your job as specified to the best of your ability without any excuses. Otherwise, you should not accept the job in the first place.

    4.1. Malacañang continues to support Purisima on the basis of his transparency. But transparency is just one side of the coin, and accountability is the other.

    4.2. Accountability is impossible without transparency, but transparency without accountability serves no purpose.

    4.3. Purisima has shown a certain lack of understanding in the integrity and competence required for his job as top policeman. He has acknowledged that the crime rate is on the rise. The PNP is responsible for this rise not only in its inefficiency (or inefficacy) at deterrence but in the actual participation and commission of crimes.

    4.4. Conclusion: Purisima is a distraction that should be resolved quickly. He is indeed the wrong culprit. Let’s get back to Binay’s case – and Poe’s inconsistency (if not inconstancy).

    • Joe America says:

      Nice roundabout way to validate my main point on salaries. Grossly underpaid executives in government.

      Accountability is indeed the other half of the pay issue. I agree with your observation 4.3 and even, in the blog about Poe, said I thought he was a weak manager. The details as to whether he is corrupt or not is under investigation, and I hope (to spite a lot of the early judgers like Failon), that he comes out smelling like a rose . . . or however clean cops smell. Like Rexona I guess.

      4.4 Yes, please.

  11. gerverg1885 says:

    Just can’t help wondering why the big difference on the salary of the Secretary of Agriculture from the other cabinet members whose job requires them to get the flak daily from the public and the opposition and a press who could see nothing but wrong even if they are performing very well.

    I wouldn’t wonder anymore if those who are vehemently against Secretary Abad because he was the author of the DAP would not raise their hackles to deafening decibels that he earned from that much maligned program because his salary is way below that of Alcala’s.

    And that of Secretary Abaya’s whose connection to the maintenance contractor and the people behind the bribery claim of that ambassador regarding the replacement for the aging MRT coaches.

    Just wondering, Joe.

    • Joe America says:

      The Ag secretary served on boards of this commission or that and got additional payments in 2013. Abad is one who is grossly underpaid. He spends what Hinares raises. Abaya is the most perplexing guy on Aquino’s cabinet. He is intelligent (graduated second at US Naval Academy in academics), but it does not seem to get translated into crisp, decisive acts. Every bid seems screwed up in some way, and it appears in meetings that he relies on others for answers. I don’t know if he is coasting or incompetent or I just don’t have the right picture.

  12. manuel buencamino says:

    Make private and public sector pay scales the same, not necessarily as an anti-corruption measure in the public sector, but so that the public and private sector compete for the best hires. I think that’s the hiring philosophy of the singapore gov’t.

    Of course, it can be argued that the unemployment rate in Singapore at 1.9% is so low that there is a competition for hires rather than for employment while over here, the unemployment rate is so high that employers, whether it is the govt or the private sector, have the edge and job hunters will accept practically shit wages just to get a job.

    But my response to that argument would still be make the salaries including benefit packages the same for public and private sector. What’s the diff between a public and a private school teacher? Between a cop and a security guard? Between a DPWH engineer and a DMCI engineer? A customs inspector and a customs broker, a tax aufitor and a BIR auditor? etc. etc. Just like there should be no pay discrimination between genders, races, and all that there should also be no pay discrimination between public and private sector workers. It’s a matter of justice.

    You can not get rid of corruption because humans are not angels but you can limit the opportunities and incentives for it.

    In HK the anti-corruption body is not limited to public sector corruption. The anti-corruption body can investigate and prosecute private sector corruption. For ex. a questionable transaction between two private sector companies or employees falls under the purview of the anti-corruption council. The cook in a restaurant can be sued under the anti-corruption law if he is caught taking a kickback from the butcher.

    The message is any and all corruption is a no-no. Public sector employees breathe the same air as private sector employees. When one sector pollutes the air with corruption everybody breathes corruption. Corruption is not just a question of safeguarding taxpayers’ monies. It’s a matter of keeping the air that everyone breathes clean.

    Anyway, bottom line is there should be no difference between private and public sector basic salaries and benefits. If one is to argue that private sector is about profits and those who contribute to profitability should be adequately compensated then I would say give it to them as bonuses, as rewards for the profits, but not as basic pay. Anyway, gov’t also has incentive bonuses although they can never match private sector bonuses because they are based on job performance ratings rather profits.

    • Joe America says:

      I could never understand the give-away at year-end, totally unrelated to anything productive, is called a “bonus”, as if earned. How much better to pool that money and devise a way to apportion it according to productivity.

      Yes, pay increases should not be done as a reason to stop corruption. But the professionalizing of jobs will lead to that as people increasingly value their employment and the upside that is available (bonus, promotion) for good performance. Why risk that by cheating? That energy is what is lacking in the productive model here, it seems to me. Putting salaries comparable to the private sector makes good sense.

  13. Pinoyputi says:

    Hi Joe
    I don’t know if Chief Purisima is guilty of corruption, favoritism, accepting favors and unexplained wealth. Both the media and the Senatorial inquest did not make that clear. So many questions stay un-asked, from whom did he buy the properties, did he mortgage, who constructed the houses. What was the going m2 price in 2001 and so on. However, Chief Purisima might be the right culprit,

    Through your whole article I had the feeling you kind of understood and agreed if he was guilty. After all with so little salary, what else can you do but steal? Sentences like, appears to be illegal”, “reasonable reasons”, “why are people outraged” and “the laws appear to condemn him” all supported this feeling. I might be wrong, please tell me so. After all an editor in chief that published three excellent essays on ethics and the seven commandments of ethics should have some ethics himself.
    I agree that salaries need to be increased but I would take more cautious path. There is enough proof out there that better pay is not always leading to better quality. Look for example at the banks during the latest depression, read Forbes “The highest paid CEO’s are the worst performers”. And do you really think Proceso Alcala is three times better than Leila de Lim. If you take a look at the lower levels in the PNP where a PO1 earns on average 16,500 per month the problems are far larger. However the pay ration compared to the chief is indeed to small. If you take a 1 to 10 ratio Purisimo would enjoy around 160,000 to 200,000 a month which I consider quite reasonable. After all who says that a Chief needs more than one house. For 900,000 you drive a brand new Isuzu Crosswind and if you add another 600,000 you can drive a Toyota Fortuner. There is no need to accept a 3 million bribe. Being a policemen, whether Chief or PO1, your main assets are your skills and integrity. If you do want more or better, find another job. It is an insult to honest people, a lack of respect to fellow Filipino’s to steal from the country and the people.
    Reading the report on salaries and allowances I can’t help but thinking that the whole salary system for the government needs to be redone. Why would you want to be PNP Chief, when you can earn more as a member of the Sports Commission. The Chairman of that Commission earns a lot more than Secretary Kim Henares.

    • Joe America says:

      You read very perceptively. I danced around the matter of favor and benefit because I did not have the details and did not want to prejudge. If Chief Purisima received the car for some gift of government favor (a contract awarded), then that would be cause for charges to be filed, I’d imagine. And maybe that will happen. I did not want to get bogged down in claiming he was corrupt or not corrupt, but state that I could understand (“feel”/empathize with) WHY anybody in similar circumstances, in Philippine government, with everyone around him giving and getting favors, might bend to the desire of favors given and received. That doesn’t make it right, and the Ombudsman and tax people will determine guilt. I had already determined (prior blog on Grace Poe being a trapo), that he was a weak manager. Beyond that, I didn’t like that he blamed the charges on “politics”, which is the same defense we hear from all the alleged plunderers, and from the Binay camp.

      But those matters weren’t the subject of the blog. They just laid the groundwork.

      Yes, the whole salary system departs from common sense and is for sure not linked to responsibility, which is a downright shame for the good people working earnestly. I don’t think one builds the salary system cautiously, however, because there might be some bad exceptions to the system. You build it with a purpose in mind. Salary based on responsibility. A ladder of promotional opportunities. Quarterly reviews of performance that measure achievement or lack thereof, and a year-end decision as to merit pay and bonus payouts. Most big-corporate American Human Resources executives could build the system. They live it.

      Thank you for the very thoughtful comment.

  14. pussyfooter says:

    Hear, hear! I daresay if you get a bit deeper, you’ll find you’re just starting to chip away at the careful whitewashing–built up over many pious generations–of the toxically, if not terminally, cognitively dissonant Pinoy relationship with money. We all want it–as we want few other things, including rewards in heaven–but we believe it is deeply shameful and sinful for anyone (else?) to want it, and we are prepared to back that belief up with deadly force.

    Imvho that is one reason the judiciary defends, or must defend, its (constitutionally ordained–but then, lawyers and judges wrote that Constitution) fiscal autonomy. (As you already know, everyone else in govt apparently resents that fiscal autonomy and does everything possible to eat away at it.) Judges and so on get a relative pittance too, but in some ways they’re still better off than the executive branch whose wages are kept ridiculously low by law. (And who writes those laws? Why our ever-well-informed and always nobly motivated Congressfolk, of course.) Pay peanuts and get monkeys. Incidentally, the monthly base presidential salary isn’t even 6 digits if i recall correctly.

    Then again, no politician smart enough to get himself elected would be dumb enough to kill all chances at future election by proposing increased government salaries. Filipinos won’t even let MRT fares increase.

    • pussyfooter says:

      Pinoyputi does make a good point tho, that wages aren’t a 100% “guarantee” of a good job. Research these days say that the amount of meaning one gets is also an excellent motivator. I think many or most Pinoys think along these lines, to an unrealistic extreme. Still, as you point out, there has to be reasonable compensation, especially to inspire competition.

      I wouldn’t necessarily exonerate Purisima tho–if only he would stop pretending that his “it’s only a simple little house” defense is fooling anyone–but your bigger perspective is spot on.

      • Joe America says:

        A Purisima I neither exonerate or condemn, as I don’t have the facts. The tax people and Ombudsman will look into him. I do HOPE he comes out clean, but some of the supposed facts (contracts awarded to person who provided the car) give pause. On Binay, I have what I believe are credible facts, because I watch the hearings. He’s a crook . . . alleged still, for libel protection . . . but, wow, the pieces are all starting to line up in a jawdropping way.

    • Joe America says:

      “Pay peanuts and get monkeys . . .” ahahahahaha Are you available to edit my blogs when I want to upgrade their pithiness? ahahahaha

      Your last paragraph feeds into my thought that leftists and poor would scream. I had not thought that their representatives would scream for them, but you are right. Sigh.

      I started thinking of solutions and now I am gonna go get drunk . . . (just kidding . . . mostly) 🙂

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