Monday, June 16, 2008

Confession of a young presidential appointtee

Mike's war: the confessions of a presidential Appointee

Below, excerpts from an open letter from Mike Francis Acebedo Lopez, the youngest presidential appointee at age 24. Lopez is described by his peers as a proud Cebuano youth leader who started as a volunteer of the NYC until he was appointed as one of its Commissioners- at-large.

Sham after sham

I am proud to report to the Filipino people to whom I am accountable that no pressure from my colleagues has allowed me to conform to what I would describe as a highly degenerate National Youth Commission. (Presidential appointees always say they serve at the pleasure of the President, but in truth we serve the greater interest of our people). This is the same Youth Commission that has bullied the alumni association of the SSEAYP (Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program), an organization of passionate and dedicated alumni of the Japanese Government's SSEAYP program. (The NYC is mandate by law to implement the SSEAYP). The NYC Leadership insisted on the creation of a different alumni association to divide the current SSEAYP leadership in the Philippines, apparently to get back at them because the group pressed charges against the Officials of the Commission. These charges emanated from the Commission's self-interested decision to choose one of our own as National Leader of last year's SSEAYP delegation (the first time its ever happened) to a two-month all-expense paid cultural cruise across Japan and the ASEAN region. Worse, the Commission still opened the search to other applicants even if the NYC's Leadership already promised this concession to the interested Commissioner, all the while creating a semblance that the process was still being followed. So what initially was just an issue of delicadeza became an issue of deception, a betrayal of public trust.

Genuine leadership seeks to unite, not divide the efforts and convictions of young people. When it does, it's apparent that it is for no other reason but to perpetuate one's stay in power or to secure an otherwise insecure position in society or government.

This is also the same Youth Commission whose Leadership has cases at the Ombudsman, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), along with a severely damaged reputation as evidenced by complaints circulating around various youth circuits and e-groups across the country and abroad. This Youth Commission has ganged up on me for my opposition, insisting that we are a collegial body and should therefore be united and agree on everything. But I believe in unity in diversity (there was a reason why the NYC was created to have several commissioners) and upholding truth and justice over everything else. They do not understand that I oppose only those decisions that I know will tarnish our individual and collective reputations, ultimately affecting the credibility and integrity of our agency. They do not understand that we each represent the NYC and our government, and our actions can and will affect the credibility and integrity of the Office we represent. Our credibility, I believe, is the best gift I could give our country and our fellow young Filipinos.

Many youth leaders across the country are mad at the NYC for its many abuses. To the officials of the NYC, every crisis in the Arroyo Presidency is yet another opportunity to "kiss ass". This has lead to the moro-moro and incompetent management of our international programs. Slots for foreign trips, scholarships, and exchange programs are given to friends of the officials, with an unwritten, internal arrangement that only those who are pro-administration will be chosen. Take the SSEAYP for instance: its guidelines, which have been in place for several years, were changed last year to accommodate an alleged relative of the President. In fairness to the President, I do not think that she is aware of these happenings, nor has she given such order. The irony is that the alleged relative did not apply last year, but the damage has already been done against the integrity of the SSEAYP selection process. And all this after we require applicants of our programs to accomplish so many difficult requirements and submit long essays. It really is a sham, a travesty! Kawawa `yung mga bata, trusting and submitting themselves to a process at babastusin lang pala sila. These officials have no respect for the efforts of the young people whose interests we all swore to uphold and protect.

The Officials of the National Youth Commission have miserably failed our country's youth, demoralizing like never before the hardworking staff of the agency. (The agency's staff's turnover rate in the past year is the highest in the NYC's history) In this battle, I have been wounded. I am ashamed of speaking on behalf of a Youth Commission that has not done its job. I cannot lie any longer to my fellow youth that everything is alright.

Thank god for young people like Mike. If the youth is the hope of the fatherland then all may not be well with a National Youth Commission that Mike Lopez describes as decadent. Yet, the self sacrifice that this young man has shown, by writing an open letter that will destroy his chances at serving as a public official of the land, is commendable and allows us to hope that perhaps not all is lost.

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