By: The Rev. Fr. Hermogenes P. Verano, DPA
Mission Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

"In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous."
-Robert G. Ingersoll

Robert Green Ingersoll is definitely correct. The genius would just manipulate the mediocre. So, what is mediocrity?

Mediocrity is the quality or state of being just average. A mediocre mindset is having low expectations and minimum standards. Unwillingly putting the extra effort to create something really exciting and breathtaking, a mediocre does not invest in himself/herself and does not put in the extra effort to keep skills up-to-date. 

To begin with, millions or perhaps billions of money are appropriated and spent by the government in paying salaries, wages, bonuses, and other remunerations to thousands of government employees. The State’s huge budget keeps the daily grind of the government and facilitates the smooth operation of the bureau-- " a detested term for long delays, insufficiency, critical ineptness, petty arrogance, and lack of empathy ” (Randy David: Public Lives, PDI, 9/14/15). Taking a look at the performance of our civil servants, we get a bleak picture since their "accomplishments" are very far from ideal. A great number of them are merely interested in getting positions but perceivably without any regard for the duties and responsibilities that they are expected to fulfill. Being such, they become culprits for the failure of government to deliver quality services to its constituents. No doubt, they are mediocre who are satisfied even when their performances are unremarkable.

Mediocrity is personified by a typical government employee who does not aspire for excellence and interested only in what he/she can get and not in what is expected to be accomplished. It is characterized by a civil servant who possesses any of the following attributes or traits: (1) the “come-what-may” attitude, (2) the “idiosyncratic-spoiled brat” behavior, (3) the “bata-bata” system practice, (4) the “commissioner” character, (5) the “power tripper” trait, and lastly, (6) the “15/30” waiter. 

  1. The "Come-What-May" Attitude

    A procrastinator type, he/she believes that there is always enough time for everything but work can wait. Unmindful of the urgency of the activity or seriousness of the matter at hand, this person has always the ready alibi if the work is not done on time.
  2. The "Idiosyncratic-Spoiled Brat" Behavior

    A relative of the procrastinator type, he/she devotes more time in taking care of personal concerns and spends less time in getting the work done. Idiotic, he/she is frequently engrossed in things that would please and gratify him/her. Oftentimes caught chatting with officemates, this spoiler of precious time is regularly seen dialing his/her cellular phone or surfing the laptop or computer but neither of which has anything to do with his/her job. Not contented with these, he/she has the gall and temerity to bark at the people at the long queue outside the office, but without pity telling them to return some other time by saying, " Mamaya na ha ?” or " Puwedeng bumalik na lang kayo bukas? "
  3. The "Bata-Bata” System Practice

    Taking advantage of the system that is already well-entrenched in government offices, a public servant who relies on this practice allows those whom he/she favors to flagrantly defy the rules which everyone must strictly follow but can take shortcuts openly in doing transactions. The idea of political patronage destroys Max Weber's ideal theory of bureaucracy where merits of fitness and qualifications of the most intelligent and talented members of a society are the prescriptions for an effective, efficient, and competent government bureaucracy. Thus, Prof. Randy David posits " that people are appointed/designated to their positions because of merit, because of what they can do rather than because of who they are... " no matter how low or small his/her role in the bureaucracy may be.  Every office holder has a distinct contribution in making the life of an organization. He/she does not own his/her office and so he/she can't use it to give special favors to relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
  4. The "Commissioner" Outlook

    Always thinking of the commission that he/she gets, the government employee of this kind engages in shady dealings and makes sure that he/she has a share of the loot. He/she seals and approves budgeted projects with gusto for as long as he/she partakes of the percentage. This practice results in an inflated finance but causing a substandard and low-quality finished project. Built by a lot of "commissioners" of 5, 10 or up to 20%, the hapless projects of roads, bridges, buildings, and other government infrastructures easily and gradually succumb to untimely destruction. What a waste of money!
  5. The "Power Tripper" Type

    The person of this nature uses his/her position as his/her comfort zone. Insensitive, he/she plays with the subordinates' feelings. Possessed with a messianic complex, this person brags that he/she is the only one who can improve their lives; so they have to be obedient and everything will be okay. He/she expects his/her minions to " see no evil, speak no evil "- a mantra conducive to the proliferation of graft, corruption, and injustices. Lording them over, the power tripper engages in shady, illegal, and immoral dealings left and right with no one crying “foul!”
  6. The "15/30" Waiter

    The public servant of this kind is preferably and cynically just waiting for the 15th and 30th days of the month (pay days) so that expectedly he/she can get the salary. This person is just killing time doing nothing. Oftentimes, he/she is nowhere to be found in the work station, or obviously out of the office. Taking for granted the office hours, he/she is always late or oftentimes absent. But with poor monitoring system and a little "sipsip" and "palakasan" (favoritism with the boss/employer), he/she happily enjoys the supposed job compensation. He/she is a nuisance in the office but he/she manages to stay due to favoritism, seniority, or civil service eligibility. 

Ideally, employees who possess any of the above-mentioned traits should not be in public offices. They are like leeches eating or sipping blood of the hapless taxpayers. They must not be given an opportunity to unleash their venom poisoning the usability of government funds which must be stretched to improve the quality of governance in this country. Those gargantuan animals are compared to huge dragons spewing fire, killing the very fabric of morality on a government that supposedly follows the " tuwid na daan " (righteous path).

Consequently, challenging the system is very revolting, chaotic, intimidating, and quite quixotic. A paralysis as unmanageable and these bureaucratic monsters are depriving the government of financial sufficiency as money is wasted to feed on the dregs of the bureaucracy.



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