By Genalyn Kabiling
Public service is no easy task. It requires having “a heart for the people,” loving the people one serves and finding ways to solve their problems.
This is the lesson learned by President Duterte from his father the late Governor Vicente Duterte when they discussed working in government.
“Sabi niya (He said) you have to love the people whom you serve,” Duterte said about his father during a meeting with some Cabinet members aired on state television last Friday.
According to Duterte, he once told his father about becoming a governor over a family dinner but was quickly shut down for merely desiring a position in power. He said his father stressed that government work is about serving people with sincerity and hard work.
“Ako ‘yung pinakamaingay, hambugero sa pamilya, sabi ko, ‘Gusto ko ako governor rin.’ Tapos itong si — itong mga kapatid ko mga ulol, ‘Ako, mayor’ ganun. Pinara kami ng tatay ko. Sabi niya, ‘Shut up.’ Sabi niya, ‘Kung magpasok ka ng politika at peke ‘yung loob mo, and you want to be just called a governor, ‘yan ang gusto mo tawagin kang governor? Maligaya ka na diyan? (You know do not enter politics if you do not have the heart for the people’ It was the noisiest, the most boastful in the family. I said, ‘I want to be a governor too.’ My foolish siblings then claimed ‘I want to become a mayor.’ Our father stopped us and said, ‘Shut up.’ He said ‘If you enter politics and your motive is fake and you want to be just called a governor, you want to be governor? You’re happy with that? You know do not enter politics if you do not have the heart for the people),” Duterte said.
Duterte said his father conceded that a public servant also experiences “burnout” due to the demands of the job.
“Sabi ng tatay ko, ‘Kita mo ako, gisingin ako dito ng madaling araw may problema. Gisingin ako ng municipal mayors kay may heart attack ‘yung barangay captain, so day at a time or night.’ Sabi niya, ‘You must, I said, be ready to serve.’ And you cannot serve pangmatagalan kasi papagurin ka, ma-burnout ka (My father said, ‘Look at me, I am awoken early in the morning if there’s a problem. Municipal mayors wake me to tell a barangay captain had a heart attack. He said, ‘You must I said be ready to serve’ a day at a time or night. And you cannot serve for long because you will get tired, you will have a burnout),” he said.
The elder Duterte served as governor of then-undivided Davao province from 1959 to 1965. He was then appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos as secretary of general services department. He passed away in February 1968.
Twenty years later, the son of the governor was elected mayor of Davao City. Duterte served for several years as local chief executive of Davao City before becoming president in 2016.
Duterte, who has championed the campaign against illegal drugs and corruption during his presidency, nothing will happen the country if government leaders have no love for the people.
“This is not an easy job to do. It requires you to think, think and think, and find ways to solve the problem,” he said.
“Kung wala ka talagang pagmamahal sa Pilipino, walang mangyari (If you don’t have love for Filipinos, nothing will happen),” he added.
For the honest and dedicated public servants, Duterte said they will likely have a special place in heaven.
“Maybe not here, but in some place when you die there is a special place for you. In heaven, if you are as good as me. But if you are bad, the hottest place in hell. Nandoon ‘yung mga tao na tarantado (The bastard people are there),” he said.
Insisting he has not been a corrupt public servant, Duterte is optimistic that he won’t end up in hell.
“I’m sure I am not going there. Hindi ako…Kung ang kasalanan ko lang babae? Wala. Hindi naman ako nagnakaw (I am not…If my fault is just women? Nothing. I did not steal),” he said.