Is Persida Rueda-Acosta using the government office that she heads to campaign for some of the bets of the administration?
The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) recently had a convention for its rank and file employees at the Manila Hotel. The gathering was held from February 6 until February 8, 2019.
Based from an insider’s account, the event essentially became an election sortie for some candidates running for senator.
On its first day, the PAO event had people of questionable character in its roster of special guests.
Former senator and plunder suspect Jinggoy Estrada was given an award as “Outstanding Public Servant.” You read that right. Someone who was jailed twice for stealing from the public coffers is, in the eye of Acosta and PAO, deserved to be given such award.
Another awardee is lawyer Larry Gadon for being an “Outstanding Civic Advocate.” Yes, folks, a guy who once suggested the use of genocide to attain peace in Mindanao was given such accolade.
Then there was former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go who made the poor PAO employees wait until 11:00 in the evening of Wednesday because he arrived very late at the venue. What was the award given to him? The Lady Justice Statuette for Outstanding Public Servant. For what? For being Rodrigo Duterte’s Dakilang Alalay? For being the Epal King?
The PAO employees complained that even if the first day of the seminar ended very late, they were still required to come early in the session hall for the next day’s lecture.
According to sources, Acosta got irritated upon being told of the grievance of the participants who were already tired and sleepy. Some of the attendees are old and sickly and are just waiting to reach the retirement age. But the PAO chief was allegedly heard demanding more patience and sacrifice from her subordinates because, according to her, the office is doing the president a favor.
“May direktiba si President Duterte na tulungan natin sila SAP Go at iba pang kandidato ng adminstrasyon. Kaya nga tayo nagpa-seminar eh,” Acosta allegedly uttered.
The second day of the convention was even worse.
Musician Freddie Aguilar who is also running for senator was present as special guest. He even performed in front of a bored, sleep-deprived audience.
But the “guest of honor” for the second day of the convention was Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos. Not surprising because Acosta is a closet Marcos loyalist.
Expectedly, the PAO chief has nothing but good words for the daughter of the late dictator Marcos and the latter returned the favor by praising her. Just like your typical campaign activity.
Marcos was conferred the same award that was given to Go, the Lady Justice Statuette for Outstanding Public Servant. A prestigious recognition for someone who shamelessly lied about her educational credentials.
It is not clear what standard Acosta and PAO is using in choosing the recipients of their awards. But to call the likes of Estrada, Go and Marcos as public servants is an insult to every genuine, honest and dedicated worker in the public sector including the rank and file employees of PAO. Worse, to call them “outstanding” is adding insult to injury.
Most of the participants specially those who came from the provinces in Mindanao and Visayas are complaining about the highly politicized environment of the convention.
“Ang layo nang pinanggalingan namin tapos mamumulitika lang pala si hepe,” a staff who represent a district from a far away province told us.
Moreover, they lamented the fact that politicians courting their votes outnumbered the actual lecturers during the three-day gathering. They were expecting that their knowledge and skill will expand as to matters that are relevant to their everyday work as PAO employees such as computer literacy, communication skills, grievance machinery and employee’s code of conduct. Instead, they were forced to hear the candidate’s sweet promises and their non-existent or imagined accomplishments.
When the term of the incumbent administration is over, Acosta, together with her other sins such as the vaccine scare, corruption and nepotism in her agency and her arbitrary and unreasonable office policies, should be prosecuted for using the official time, money and resources of PAO in a prohibited partisan political activity and electioneering.