By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones cautioned the personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd) on posts, words, and actions that “result from and promote dishonesty” as she warned them against trivialization of trials and triumphs in public service.
Case in point is Briones’ quote on public service abridged to the point of lacking context and circulated on social media as a disparage to her intent to remind public servants of the challenges – and fulfillment – of serving the country.
Initially addressed to the members of the National Union of Career Executive Service Officers in July, the Briones’ statement was follows: “Public service is not about power and getting rich. It is all about suffering – financially, physically, psychologically. It is all about attacks from all corners. But it is also joy – the joy of introducing reforms, the joy of touching people and the joy of teaching them new ways of thinking and of serving our people.”
However, based on memes that come out in social media, Briones’ statement was reduced to “Public service is about suffering – financially, physically, and psychologically” which, according to the DepEd, was “contracted to trivialize and serve purposes that lead to misunderstanding and disagreement, and posted online without due diligence to verify complete information.”
The fake meme was followed by a call for Briones to resign as petitioned in change.org filed by a certain Gherlie Obmil. In calling for the DepEd Chief’s resignation, the petitioner alleged that the “number of teachers who committed suicide because of stress” has been “increasing” since Briones became DepEd Secretary. Teachers, the petitioner added, have been suffering because of “unending paper works” and low salary. The said petition has 336 supporters as of this writing.
All about honesty
Meanwhile, DepEd noted that “honesty is a basic virtue that has long been at the core” of the department’s mandate to “protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality basic education.” For the Department, honesty is also “a rudimentary value that we endeavor to inculcate in the minds of the youth during the formative years, especially in school” and “an adage that everyone is expected to observe and practice in youth and in old age.”
At a time when truth is behind the many lies that have made a head start on social media, Briones expressed optimism that “there are still discerning and judicious Filipinos who will not fall into the trap of disinformation, much less become instruments of spreading it.”
And, at a time “when the truth of action speaks softer than the barrage of lies,” Briones remains confident “in honest Filipinos who give truth a louder and clearer voice through thorough research, verification of information, and complete dissemination of facts.”