Stress on ethics & integrity in personal governance

Published June 27, 2019, 12:27 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

As a second strategic priority, I had suggested that within a personal scorecard system, due and special stress should be given to personal integrity and ethics. This suggestion has received strong support from other governance advocates. They echo the mantra that “all good governance starts with me (the individual person)”.

Dr. Fred Pascual has the following to say on this suggestion: “No question about this, an INTEGRITY & ETHICS component in the personal scorecard! Political and business leaders should behave with integrity. They are vulnerable to the temptations of quick gains from corrupt practices. Thus, they need to be guided by a moral compass in their decision making. Hopefully, with properly guided leaders, we may rid ourselves of a poisonous dose, almost on a daily basis, of news reports on corruption and misguided behaviour in both the public and private sectors.” Indeed, we have to “encourage managers to have an ethical compass needed to navigate through ambiguity in the current age of disruptions. There are tough choices to be made: self-interest versus the common good; immediate profit versus long-term sustainability, etc., such as when faced with decisions on new technologies or decisions with potential adverse impact on the environment or on the lives of many in society.”

ICD trustee Ida Tiongson proposes a carrot-and-stick approach in promoting and inculcating an operative culture of Integrity & Ethics. Her proposed carrot: “continuous recognition (and ample reward) for those implementing and effectively enforcing governance topics, particularly those heavily laced with integrity and ethics.” Her proposed stick: support the “strong stand against corruption, by applauding the current example on the part of the current administration to send the strong message that it means business when it comes to giving primary importance to integrity in public office.” The very public firing of appointed officials with question marks over their ethical practices in the performance of their official duties is the type of “fear” that has to be embedded in the heart of everyone who serves in government.

For his part, Gen. Barreceros of the PNP puts forward this report, which goes very much against the simplistic and generalised impression that everything in the PNP is corrupt and rotten:

  • PNP actually has an Integrity Enhancement Program. It requires every unit commander and every individual police person to make an “Integrity Pledge”. The PNP then uses carrots and sticks to raise the standards of integrity actually being observed by all police personnel. Incentives and rewards are given for exemplary service with integrity. Prohibited acts have been clearly enumerated, and violations are dealt with by strengthened disciplinary mechanisms. More effective monitoring systems—such as the establishment of ‘integrity circles’— have been set up.He has a longer list of initiatives being undertaken in this regard by PNP.
  • However, for such a big organisation such as the PNP, very clearly so much has to be done in order to clean up its ranks. But it is heartening to note that serious and sincere efforts are being exerted in order to promote a culture of integrity and ethics, Every Filipino should wish the PNP well in this regard and give support for such a difficult undertaking.

Col. Rommel Cordova reports that the Army and AFP governance program is anchored on integrity and ethics. However, he reports that including the comprehensive elements of the personal scorecard, especially the moral/spiritual facets, is proving to be quite “challenging because of the difficulty of identifying SMART objectives (i.e, specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound).

ICD trustee Pet Bautista comments that “integrity and ethics should start by modelling from the top. The leader of the organization must show (his or her commitment to integrity and ethics) through example. Misdeeds in this area should be given no second chances. Moreover, the Board should insist that this flows down and cascades through the whole organisation. He notes that this problem is widespread: even at the barangay level, in his experience, the challenge starts down there. It has to be met at that basic community level.