Mayor Evelio Leonardia of Bacolod City; CESB Executive Director Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones; DAR USEC and NUCESO President Rosalina Bistoyong; hosts DOTr USEC Cesar Chavez and DILG City Director Mary Anne Planas; my fellow workers in the government, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and congratulations on the 44th anniversary of the Career Executive Service.

Thank you to the organizers for inviting me as your keynote speaker. I am honored to be part of your conference, to speak before you, and to be among brilliant and dedicated senior career government executives of the Philippines. Congratulations also for holding this conference here in Bacolod City, the City of Smiles. I am sure that bringing our country’s career government executives to this beautiful city will inspire and spark in them a new energy for innovative and excellent public service.

In my address, I would like to discuss two things that gathered us here in your conference with the theme “GoVergence: Converging for Sustainable Development.”

First, what is our vision for the future of our country and why do we need to converge?

And second, what is the CESO’s role – your role – in convergence?

A Vision for the Future and the Need for Convergence

As you know, anchored in the Vision is the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017-2022, a medium-term plan that paves the way for a high-trust and resilient society that enjoys the bounties of inclusive growth and globally competitive knowledge resources.

The Duterte Administration is determined to achieve the lofty goals set forth in the Vision and the Philippine Development Plan, and we plan to achieve four goals by the end of 2022. These four goals are:

1. To reduce poverty to 14% from the 21.6% in 2015;

2. Raise GDP growth of 7% to 8% annually, for the next 5 years

3. Realize the Golden Age of Infrastructure through the National Government’s “Build Build Build” Program; and,

4. Reinforce the social services sector by sustaining its high share in the budget.

However, these goals will not be achieved by maintaining the status quo. Thus, the government concurrently complements this with budget reforms that improve the nation’s fiscal transparency, accountability, and prudence in spending. To this end, the government has taken great strides, and thus has introduced specific measures that:

> Accelerate without compromising the integrity of the government procurement process, through the Revision of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184); and,

> Integrate financial management operations for the national government, through the implementation of the Budget and Treasury and Management System (BTMS).

We are also pushing for the Budget Reform Bill and the Rightsizing the National Government Bill. The first one, the Budget Reform Bill, would institutionalize reforms that would modernize the budget system. The second one, the Rightsizing the National Government Bill, would eliminate redundant and unneeded functions, programs, and projects in the bureaucracy.

But policies and reforms, no matter how well-crafted, are useless we’re one, operating like an efficient, well-oiled machine, when were implementing these reforms. We must therefore firm our grasps and be resolute in what we want to achieve, operating while tuning in to what people say and need.

The CESO’s Place in Convergence

We have talked about our vision for our country. Now, the question is: What is your role as CESOs in convergence?

At this point, let me share with you my little secret: what has guided me all these years in public service. When I was a PH.D. student at Syracuse University many moons ago, I changed upon the Oath of Athenian , a powerful oath of citizenship, engraved prominently in the lobby of Maxwell Hall, the building that houses the Maxwell School Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. It captures my own attitude when it comes to the work that I do; it goes:

“We will ever strive for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many; we will unceasingly seek to quicken the sense of public duty; we will revere and obey the city’s laws; we will transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

I have spent about forty years in government and this oath has been my guide all along. Whether you follow the same path or not, I believe it can guide you as well. In fact, it should guide our leaders, the legislators, the local chief executives, the industrialists, the educators, the ordinary workers, the gardeners, and so on. This oath reminds us of our joint responsibility, as citizens, to transmit our country, the Philippines, “not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

But the implications for you, as CESO, are even more staggering! You are not ordinary mortals. You’re supposed to be vanguards of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.

As CESOs, you have persevered to become leaders in government service. The fact that you are here as a CESO means you have sacrificed a great amount of time effort and patience, and worked hard to develop a broad set of critical management skills that allows our government to deliver meaningful public service to the Filipino people.

As CESOs, you provide the critical link between the political leadership and the rest of the bureaucracy. If the CESO system is strong, you provide continuity and stability. Politicians come and go but you stay. That’s an awesome responsibility. Much is expected from you, and you should not disappoint the Filipino people.

In closing, I wish you more success in your public service life. Continue to persevere. Continue to look for better ways to deliver public services for the common good.

Thank you and good day.

Delivered November 21, 2017
L’Fisher Hotel, Bacolod City

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