March 20, 2019
HOW MANY times has the public heard an authority say: “I hold myself accountable” or “I take full responsibility” for something — declarations of seemingly important consequence, only to be let down when the words turn out to be empty?
Failure to deliver on a promise is one sure way of eroding public confidence in a figure of authority and many officials have lost that trust, most recently, the chief executive officer of Manila Water Co. Inc., the Ayala-led utility that supplies water to eastern Metro Manila.
“I am holding myself accountable for the sudden drop in our service levels to your constituents whom we have served for over the past 21 years with 24/7 water availability and sufficient water pressure. March 6, 2019 is a date I will never forget as president of Manila Water,” said Ferdinand de la Cruz, the Manila Water CEO, before an inquiry at the House of Representatives on the shortage in the eastern water concession.
Right after the House inquiry, de la Cruz told reporters he wondered whether his resignation was really the solution to the water shortage. His priority, he said, should be the restoration of 24/7 water supply. The Ateneo- and UP-bred veteran executive of the Ayala group is taking the public’s patience for granted.
It should be clear by now that Manila Water’s mismanagement and lack of precaution, not the El Niño weather phenomenon and the sudden drop in the water level of La Mesa Dam, is the cause of the shortage that has riled residents from Kalentong in Mandaluyong to Cambridge Circle in Forbes Park.
What de la Cruz is trying to do is turn around his untenable position as head of Manila Water management, and make it sound as though the public owed it to him that he was even thinking of finding a solution to the water problem, instead of resigning.
In doing so, he, and many others before him, have contributed to rendering the words “I hold myself accountable” utterly meaningless.
To hold one’s self accountable means one believes himself or herself to be responsible for an error or wrongdoing, and should, therefore, suffer the consequences.
Surely, there are other capable executives in the Ayala group who can run Manila Water with the help of the existing staff.
De la Cruz cannot insult the suffering residents of eastern Metro Manila and claim he is the solution to the mess that he, in fact, created or helped create.
The consequence of the mismanagement of the Manila Water corporate organization, of which he is on top, is for him to resign. That is management accountability, and there is no going around it.
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