A message to public servants: No apathy please!

For so long a time, we had the belief that the issue we face with the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is just a problem and quandary only for the lookout of our military and other peacekeeping forces.

Admittedly, and realistically, on the ground, our government has more or less 392,000 skillful military, police and other auxiliary forces, while the NPA, on the other hand, has only 4,106 regular members. In ratio, this just implies that a simple arithmetic — 95:1— 95 government soldiers is equal to 1 NPA member.

Nevertheless, while we have this figure advantageous on our part as compared to that of the NPA, we still have failed to completely defeat them.


In our quest to totally quash rebellion in our country, there are two issues we need to face, head-on: the disruptive communist group, and the apathetic bureaucracy.

Below are a few reasons why we failed to put an end to communist armed conflict in the past, when the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was not yet institutionalized:

  • The CPP-NPA-NDF has a clear ideology — Marxism and Leninism;
  • Their Red Fighters were trained to become propagandists, community organizers, social workers, and even teachers. Our soldiers, on the other hand, were extensively trained on being tactical operators;
  • Despite our local government units (LGUs) and our bureaucracy having enough funds, these were not used fitly to support programs on peace and security. Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) got very limited resources but they were able to fully support the CPP/NPA.
  • CTGs are experts in agitation, organizing their movement, indoctrination and propaganda. Our government, on the other hand, had failed to institute enough programs to support propagating right and relevant information to our people.


Whenever a government official or employee got involved in corruption issues, or failed to deliver on the real needs of our people, we are categorically failing our countrymen and we help the CTGs gain ground on their recruitment activities. These kinds of failure on the part of our government just gave enough reasons for our people to distrust the government, which, in the first place, should have had taken responsibility to ensure their welfare and well-being.


One of our national heroes — General Antonio Luna — once remarked the real dillema mirroring the actual situation not only in our government, but more so in our society. He said, “Mga kapatid, mayroon tayong mas malaking kaaway kaysa mga Amerikano, ang ating sarili.”

It’s been time immemorial since General Luna said this statement, but it’s so saddening that, up until now, this ceases to be a humongous problem in our society. In the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he re-emphasized this when he said, “I have met the enemy face-to-face, and sadly, the enemy is us.”

If we will not have the courage to accept the fact that we, ourselves, are part of this problem, then, we will never prosper in this fight. If we will not firmly stand our ground to put an end to communist armed conflict, then we are sustaining the strength of the CTGs to recruit and victimize more Filipinos and watch these break our families, especially our youth, and snatch our young peoples’ bright future.


Some may say, “Hindi para sa akin ang salitang Apathy o walang pakialam, sapagkat ako ay tunay na naglilingkod sa bayan.” If that’s really the case, then, well and good. But if all of us in the government are really serving our people sincerely, why do we have fellow Filipinos joining CTGs, with the belief that these leftist organizations will defend their rights?

Our apathy towards this aspect gives CTGs the opportunity to deceive our countrymen. When the government fails to satisfy the needs of our people, CTGs will take advantage of this and make it appear that they are the real defenders of the people.


But what does the word “Apathy” really means? In simple Tagalog terms, apathy means “walang pakialam.”

And how do we demonstrate apathy as government/public servants? Allow me to explain this further by narrating a story.

A job applicant applies for a job in a government, and he would be asked, “Why do want to work in the government?” He would answer, “I need work, because my father is sick and my siblings still go to school. I need to help them.”

His application was processed and he was taken in, and was able to enter the government service.

What is wrong in this story?

The truth is, nothing is wrong about it, except that the applicant joined the government “only to have work.”

And this is not the real essence of government service. It’s not simply a mere job. It is a “public service.” It is a sacrifice to devote your person to serve all of your countrymen.

Being a public servant gives us a platform to set good examples, not only to our fellow government workers, but more importantly to the people we serve. We ought to serve with dignity, patriotism, loyalty and integrity.


More than a year since the NTF-ELCAC was established, we have seen a comprehensive change in the way by which our government resolves our problem with the CTGs. From military strategies, our campaign to end this problem is now anchored on “good governance”, nationalism and patriotism, and right attitude among public servants.

But no matter how our government exerts efforts to achieve its goal of ending the realm of the CPP-NPA-NDF, if there remains to be government workers who display apathy in the service, then we will reach nothing.

It’s time to act now. It’s time to show what a real public servant is all about.

The writer is a government communications practitioner, being the present regional director of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Central Luzon, with over 20 years of vast experience in development communications.

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