Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP)

Published November 16, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

VOICE FROM THE SOUTH

By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ

There was a can-do spirit, even a euphoria, in the halls of the Development Academy at its start in Tagaytay. The evening before the start or the first Career Executive Session, we were not sure that the government executives would appear. But OD Corpus told the whole assembled faculty that we go through, even if only one of the government executives arrived.  The next morning every single one of those we invited arrived. In the preliminary interviews, many of the wizened executives questioned if we could teach them anything: “You young ones have little to tell us.”

But as the days went on in that Alphan group, a spirit of camaraderie and cooperation developed. There was solid analysis of bureaucratic situations and foolery and joy during the evenings.  I remember how they serenaded a heavy mother-like executive who wrote legal briefs for the President and an elderly lawyer who made his half-hour meditation every afternoon.

The dream of Dr. OD Corpus and Cesar Virata for DAP was an efficient civil service or bureaucracy. In a way this was almost a contraction in terms or an oxymoron. How can a bureaucracy be efficient when everything is against this objective? (It was also like calling for an honest Customs Bureau.  The temptations are so great that it is impossible to keep honest.  There were some who were saints. There was a customs collector in Davao who was offered a million pesos just to be absent on a certain day.  He was present. He was the exception.)

My first unfortunate experience of bureaucracy was when the head man of our department was absent and one of our men whose salary amounted to about P100 a day had to go to Antipolo. He needed P50 for transportation but no one to sign for the disbursement.  I asked the resident auditor if I could lend him the money. He assured me he would not be able to reimburse the money later.  The employee stayed reading in the library because he did not have the P50 for transportation. There was a lot that could be helped to make bureaucracy efficient. But the regulations to make it honest are innumerable. There are good reasons for regulations. The only time I saw OD Corpus reprimand the entire faculty was when they started to complain about auditing rules.  He assured us that if it were not for auditing regulations, he would have landed in jail.

Because of the open spirit when I was assigned to Davao, the DAP bosses decided to start a branch in Davao. We did it with a Program for Executive Development which lasted for a month instead of three months in Tagaytay.  We probably had about three thousand graduates of this program in the four key cities of Mindanao — Davao, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga; and three cities of the Visayas — Cebu, Tacloban, and Iloilo. Only the graduates can tell if the program was worth the effort.

Fr. Piron also started the Masicap program where the DAP took graduating students and trained them to help the local government executives.  This was another feather in the cap of DAP.  Many of the Maicap graduates are still in the Department of Trade and Industry. A good many of them made good contributions to the bureaucracy.  Ex-Congressman Rufus Rodriguez and his wife are still nostalgic for those glory days. Jolly Benitez did a lot of work for the upgrading of the bureaucracy. There are many other initiatives from the computer work of Bill Torres to the steady CESO programs of Ping de Jesus, Can Abella, and Fr. Gene Moran.

With the appointment of ex-Mayor of Tuguegarao, Mayor Jojo Caronan, as president of the Development Academy there is hope that there would be a second sprint in the thrust of the Development Academy of the Philippines. He is open and willing to accept ideas for this second spring. . Happiest is ex-President Tony Kalaw of DAP with the appointment of Jojo Coronan for he sees a second spring in his beloved DAP.

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