1. ratified it on November 8, 2006 and so,

1. The United Nations Convention
Against Corruption (UNCAC) provides a platform for mitigating corruption and
promoting ethics in public service among the 181 signatory countries.

Hechler
(2017) stated in UNCAC in a nutshell paper “…in defining who might be
considered as possible participants in corruption, UNCAC uses a functional
approach to the term ‘public servant’: it covers anyone who holds a
legislative, administrative, or executive office, or provides a public
service, including employees of private companies under government contract.”1

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The
Philippines signed into UNCAC on December 9, 2003 and ratified it on November
8, 2006 and so, for the past 11 years in which the UNCAC has been adopted in
the country with legal basis, we are bound to comply with the UNCAC’s
provisions on preventive measures; criminalization and law enforcement;
international cooperation; asset recovery; and technical assistance and
information exchange. In my opinion, the implementation of the UNCAC in our
country needs to be upheld, strengthened and monitored since corruption is
still a plaguing issue in our government despite the strong efforts and
campaign of the new administration against corruption. Many people say that
corruption has been the “culture” of our government and unfortunately, it
appears to be true as poverty, crime, hunger, among others, are still evident.
 
“UNCAC
provides not only an international legal basis for cooperation, but also a
political tool for dialogue between countries and between governments and
their citizens…UNCAC provides universally agreed concepts of corruption and
ways to address it within one framework, thus offering an opportunity to
overcome hitherto fragmented and often piecemeal efforts…UNCAC can foster
international exchange of expertise, good practices and lessons learned, and
it can be instrumental in coordinating international assistance,”1
stated Hechler in UNCAC in a nutshell in the discussion of what the Convention
can do.
 
Upon
reading this material, I learned that corruption in public service poses
threats to good governance and public sector ethics which is why the UNCAC
was established – to help aid in resolving a worldwide problem. The UNCAC is
an important tool in upholding and enforcing ethics in government and public
service by focusing on the mitigation of corruption and its deteriorating
impacts from the national-level government down to the local-level.
Hopefully, with the proper implementation of UNCAC coupled with intensive
efforts on good governance and ethics, this “culture” of corruption in our
government will soon be mitigated.
 

2. Ethics is a two-pronged aspect/study
that focuses on a) imbibing and practicing justifiable standards of right and
wrong and b) continuously developing our ethical standards.

Velasquez,
et.al. (2010) stated in What is Ethics?
“Ethics is two things. First, ethics refers to well-founded standards of
right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of
rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues…
Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical
standards.”2
 
I
agree with the authors when they said that ethics cannot be equated with
feelings, religion, the law, and even with what the society dictates or
accepts. The infamous phrase “go with the flow” is opposed to the essence of
ethics, especially if rights, fairness, standards and virtues are neglected
or abused.
 
Before
reading this material, I presumed that when we look at ethics, we should put
the spotlight on the provisions of the law and religion. As a government
employee, I value the law highly as it is among the strongholds in working
for the government and it would look ironic if I, as a government employee,
do not follow or practice what the law states. Also, as a strong believer of
faith (Catholicism), I believe in the Commandments as stated in the Old and
New Testaments of the Bible and these guide me in my way of living and
interacting with various kinds of people.
 
However,
as what Velasquez, et.al. (2010) discussed in What is Ethics?, I realized that ethics does not only focus on
these individual aspects but rather it encompasses all justifiable standards
of what is wrong and what is right based on fairness, rights, virtues,
obligations, standards, and societal benefits2. What is most
important, in my opinion, is that ethics is a “living” or “dynamic” aspect as
it is not stagnant and should be continually developed, scrutinized and
assessed to ensure that ethical standards level with the needs of time. What
is ethical today might not be ethical two or three years from now or less.
 

3. Ethics zeroes in on how things,
in different aspects and fields, should be. Hence, living an ethical life can
lead to joy and success.

Panza
and Potthast (2010) stated in Ethics
for Dummies Cheat Sheet “Ethics is a central component of any happy,
healthy and mature life…Ethics allows you to live an authentic life…Ethics
makes you more successful…Ethics allows you to cultivate inner peace…Ethics
provides for a stable society…Ethics may help out in the afterlife.”3
 
The
authors said that some critics say that valuing and practicing ethics veers
the focus away of an individual from him/herself. To me, the critics have a
point as ethics requires a person to consider a lot of things and can pose a
situation wherein s/he might “forget” to focus on his/her needs, aspirations,
goals, among other personal matters.
 
On
the other side of the coin, without ethics, there would be more chaos as
people are unique and therefore, have various ways of thinking and doing
things. Ethics guides us on how we should do things and on how things are
ought to be. In my point of view, it is better to choose a harder, ethical
way of doing things than an easier, unethical way.
 

4. Ethical theories, such as a)
Care ethics, b) Contract theory, c) Deontology/Kantianism, d) Egoism, e)
utilitarianism, and f) virtue ethics help people resolve challenging circumstances
through providing ways to identify what is right, wrong and permissible;
reasons why people have to be ethical; and how to arrive at an ethical stand
or action that can be defended.

Panza
and Potthast (2010) stated in Ethics
for Dummies Cheat Sheet – A Snapshot of Key Ethical Theories “Virtue
ethics states that character matters above all else…Utilitarianism holds the
amount of happiness and suffering created by a person’s action is what really
matters…Kantianism emphasizes the principles behind actions rather than an
action’s results…Contract theory proposes thinking about ethics in terms of
agreements between people…Care ethics focuses ethical attention on
relationships before other factors”.3
 
Sadler
(2011) stated in Ethical
Theories: Bare bones for business educators “Egoism
focuses on what makes something good or bad, right or wrong, is that it
satisfies one’s desires, or meets one’s needs…Utilitarianism focuses on
what makes something good or bad, right or wrong, is that it produces the
greatest amount of pleasure (or lack of pain) for the greatest number of
people…Deontology focuses on what makes something good or bad, right or
wrong, is that it conforms to some (rational) duty…Care ethics focuses on
what makes something good or bad, right or wrong, is that it involves caring
for another, and supports relationship with other people…Virtue ethics
focuses on what makes something good or bad, right or wrong, is that it
actually embodies or promotes traits culturally acknowledged as good or bad.”4
 
After reading the theories in these two
materials, I have developed a matrix of strong points and concerns for each
theory:
 

Theory

Strong points

Concerns

1. Care ethics

Builds and strengthens relationships

Focuses on feelings and emotional attachments

2. Contract theory

Well-defined agreements of what to do

Agreements are not always what should be or ought to be ethical

3. Deontology/ Kantianism

Emphasis on right principles and good intentions; the sought for practicing
absolute principles (e.g., honesty)

Results of intentions and actions may not always be ethical

4. Egoism

Values self-worth and promotes independence

Self-interests are prone to being unethical

5. Utilitarianism

Majority wins; the sought for efficient and effective solutions/ outcomes

Does not give too much attention to the minority; the means may not
always be ethical

6. Virtue ethics

Promotes virtues and discourages vices

Virtues/vices vary from one culture to another

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS/WHAT NEXT:

 

1.
Ethics is a way of life and it helps individuals, groups, communities and
nations in defining what is right or wrong and in discerning what ought to be
based on well-founded standards. In our every day lives, we face situations
that test our ethical values and ways of thinking and often times, we find it
challenging to decide what to think and how to act or react. The same goes with
small-, medium-, and large-scale organizations in the private and public
sectors. In the government and public service, ethics is among the pillars with
which plans, decisions, and actions are and should be anchored to. Since ethics
is a way of life, it is living and dynamic and therefore should be constantly studied
and assessed if it still fosters ethical standards that are well-founded and
justifiable.

 

2.
Some critics have noted that ethics somehow “devalues” self-awareness or
self-worth since in living an ethical life, one should consider multiple facets
of reality such as rights, law, virtues, obligations and standards. However, living
a life without ethics can pose glaring negative impacts to self as well as to
others and thus can create chaos and can lead to failure and unfulfilled
potentials in life. Practicing ethics in life can result to an authentic,
successful and peaceful life and can establish a stable society.

 

3.
Ethical theories serve as foundations as to how we can practice or apply ethics
in our lives. Ethical theories including care ethics, contract theory,
deontology/ kantianism, egoism, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics provide us
with different important perspectives, reasons and actions that will guide us
on how we resolve ethical issues.

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