1. health, finances, sexual misconduct and appearance of impropriety.1

1. Public sector ethics, grounded on varying
morals and values among cultures, encompasses ethical standards concerning
people and groups who serve the public.
 

Wikipedia (2017) stated in entry Public sector ethics “Ethics in the
public sector is a broad topic that is usually considered a branch of
political ethics. In the public sector, ethics addresses the fundamental
premise of a public administrator’s duty as “steward” to the public. In other
words, it is the moral justification and consideration for decisions and
actions made during the completion of daily duties when working to provide
the general services of government and non-profit organizations.”1
 
After reading this material, I learned that
ethics play a very important part in the “moral” or “ethical” monitoring and
evaluation of the tasks, duties and projects being conducted and implemented
in the public sector. I learned that the public sector ethics is applicable
to the part of the society or economy that performs several public and
governmental services such as the police, military, government officials,
politicians, public health care, public transportation, infrastructure,
public education, public media and other public groups and individuals.
 
Moreover, public sector ethics encompasses not
only the plans, decisions and actions made within the confines of public
offices but also deals with how public persons/officials live on a personal
level, particularly on health, finances, sexual misconduct and appearance of
impropriety.1 It matters that a public individual/group is physically
and mentally healthy; is able to properly handle public funds; is practicing
moral sexual activities; and is objective and unbiased to avoid conflicts of
interest. 1  
 
“Public sector ethics is an attempt to create
a more open atmosphere within governmental operations,” as stated in the
Wikipedia (2017) entry Public Sector
Ethics.1
 
As a member of the public service sector, we
at the  Fertilizer and Pesticide
Authority (FPA) aim to practice good governance and transparency in our
operations and services not only because we have to comply with the rules and
regulations on these matters but mostly because we want to earn the trust of
the stakeholders and farmers we are serving. For example, the official
website of the (fpa.da.gov.ph) follows the guidelines on Government Website
Template Design (GWTD) issued by the Department of Science and Technology –
Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO), which is a
requirement for good governance. Along with this, our website contains the
Agency’s law, rules and regulations, organizational chart, transparency seal,
freedom of information (FOI) implementation, budget and finance, procurement,
disposal, strategic performance management system (SPMS), citizen’s charter
and International Organization of Standardization (ISO) compliance, among
other important information materials conveniently accessible to the public
through internet access. Moreover, our Office displays its regularly updated Citizen’s
Charter conspicuously in compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007.
Also, we submit our Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) annually
to uphold transparency in our finances as public servants. For me, these are
among the several ways to practice public sector ethics and these provide the
public an opportunity to scrutinize how ethical a public person or entity is
or whether s/he/they are ethical or not.
 

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2. In comparison to public sector ethics, government
ethics deals with the application and employment of ethical standards and
rules to government and public administration.
 

According to Wikipedia (2017) entry Public Sector Ethics, “Government
ethics It is that part of practical jurisprudence, or the philosophy of law,
that governs the operation of government and its relationship with the people
that it governs. It covers issues of honesty and transparency in government,
dealing with matters such as bribery, political corruption, police corruption,
legislative ethics, regulatory ethics, conflict of interest, avoiding the
appearance of impropriety, open government and legal ethics”.1
 
Former US Senator Paul Douglas was quoted in Public Sector Ethics stating “Our
government is now so huge and affects our lives so directly that we cannot be
content with merely a moderately decent level of behaviour on the part of our
public officials. For even a small percentage of misbehaviour on the part of
these officials can do a vast amount of harm.”1
 
Upon reading this material, I learned that
government ethics focuses on how ethics can be applied and assessed in government
agencies and officials. It is more on the ethical issues that might build or
break the trust and confidence of the public like corruption and bribery and
how these are avoided, mitigated or resolved ethically.
 
The FPA is a regulatory body that regulates
the fertilizer and pesticide industry. Our mandate is to assure adequate,
safe and affordable supply of fertilizers and pesticides; rationalize the
manufacture and marketing of fertilizers; protect the public from risks
inherent to pesticides; and educate the agricultural sector on the proper use
of these inputs. To fulfil our mandate, we perform functions on licensing of
handlers; import control; product quality and adherence to safety;
institutionalizing of product stewardship program; fertilizer and pesticide
product registration; public information; and developmental activities. Since
we are a regulatory agency, we uphold regulatory ethics to impartially relate
to the businesses and industry stakeholders that we regulate through good
governance, transparency, FOI, among other ethical practices.
 
Also, I learned that the opposing theories of
deontology and utilitarianism can be applied in government ethics on a per
case-to-case basis. It would be difficult if a person or group sticks to a
single ethical theory between deontology and utilitarianism because
principles, morals, virtues vary depending on several circumstances.
 
With regards to the ethical obligations of
government/public officials, Perry (2000) stated in Ethics in Public Service, “Some specific obligations of public
officials are: use of impartial judgment in the service of all
constituents; avoid conflicts of interest that could undermine your objective
judgment; don’t show favouritism toward family and friends in hiring; don’t
solicit or accept bribes from people seeking to influence your official decisions;
don’t invest in property or companies that be affected by your official
decisions”.2
 
I realized that ethics is indeed a pillar or
stronghold in the conduct of government operations because of ethical obligations
needed to be fulfilled through ethical decision-making and program
implementations and continual improvement of services that ultimately improve
the lives of the citizens.
 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS/WHAT
NEXT:

 

1. Ethics is vital in the successful and proper
implementation of the mandates, functions, objectives, strategies and goals of the
public sector and the government, both of which are held responsible and accountable
to the public. Without ethical standards and theories to shed some guiding
light, the public sector and the government will be prone to intentionally or
unintentionally committing unethical doings such as conflict of interest, corruption,
misconduct, bribery, among others.

 

2. To strengthen ethics in the public sector and
the government, existing laws and regulations on transparency and good
governance, among others, should be improved with intensified implementing
guidelines and programs. Individuals and officials belonging to the public
sector and the government should also be capacitated on ethics through
information campaigns, seminars/trainings, and other capacity- and moral-building
activities.