This week and last, I tagged along with my college graduate daughter, doing the rounds of government offices issuing official documents she needed to get a job.
My daughter and I expected a smooth experience. It wasn't. It was a woeful mess.
Like all recent high school and college graduates, my daughter is making full use of the four-year-old "First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act."
In essence, Republic Act 11261 is "an act waiving government fees and charges in the issuance of documents required in the application for employment of first-time jobseekers."
Great! Since, when you come to think of it, all the fees spent for collecting official documents add up to a tidy sum.
Some of the relevant documents she needed for job seeking are police clearance certificate, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, barangay clearance, medical certificate from a public hospital, birth certificate, transcript of academic records issued by a state college or university, tax identification number, Unified Multi-Purpose card, and any other documents issued by the government that employers may require from job applicants.
So off we went.
And so begins a cautionary tale of encountering government agencies not coordinating with each other, bureaucratic apathy, and inefficiency.
Our first stop was the Barangay. The law mandates that the barangay first issue a document certifying the holder is a "first-time job seeker."
We promptly ran into a chicken and egg puzzle.
A functionary of our barangay insisted my daughter first present her school transcripts or diploma before she could be issued a certification.
However, my daughter's school said it could only process her diploma, school records, and waived fees after the barangay certification.
Fortunately, after much to and fro, our barangay official saw my daughter's point and issued her a dry-sealed certificate indicating that she indeed was a "first-time jobseeker."
My daughter had it better, it seems. A friend of hers said it took three visits to convince her barangay officials of their obligations.
My daughter's troubles weren't over when she went to her next stop at the Philippine Statistics Authority, or PSA, for her duly attested birth certificate.
Getting a birth certificate nowadays isn't as difficult as it once was since there's now an appointment system.
At any rate, getting a birth certificate and waiving the fees wasn't the issue. Instead, it was the collection of the barangay certification that was.
A PSA functionary demanded that my daughter surrender her original barangay "first-time jobseeker" document.
My daughter, however, said she needed the original for other governmental transactions, citing the common practice of presenting the original document to attest to the authenticity of the copy she was submitting.
But the PSA functionary insisted on taking the original and proceeded to show a heap of original documents inside his drawer, leaving my daughter no choice.
The PSA getting hold of the document would cause her trouble when she went next to the NBI, where a noticeably irritated functionary told my daughter her clearance couldn't be processed without the original barangay document.
When she tried to explain that the PSA took the original, the apathetic NBI functionary indignantly retorted, "That's your problem, not mine."
Such a snooty retort is a darn good example of petty bureaucratic idiocy.
So, it was back to our barangay.
Fortunately, our barangay officials had some sympathy for my daughter and issued her another original dry-sealed document.
My daughter also made a side trip to the Civil Service Commission NCR office for her civil service eligibility due to her by law by virtue of her being an honor graduate.
It took her four long hours, only to have her name spelled wrong.
There are, of course, object lessons to our cautionary tale.
But, if anything, the most teeth-gnashing thing is that time-serving bureaucrats at different agencies aren't still talking with each other about the proper procedures so as not to inconvenience the hapless public.
They still don't care about public service.