What is Civil Service?
A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of
professional merit as proven by competitive examinations.
The body of employees in any government agency other than the military.
A civil servant is a person in the public sector employed for a government department or
How Civil Service Evolved?
Administrative institutions usually grow out of the personal servants of high officials, as
in the Roman Empire. This developed a complex administrative structure, which is
outlined in the Notitia Dignitatum and the work of John Lydus, but as far as we know,
appointments to it were made entirely by inheritance or patronage and not on merit, and it
was also possible for officers to employ other people to carry out their official tasks but
continue to draw their salary themselves. There are obvious parallels here with the early
bureaucratic structures in modern states, such as the Office of Works or the Navy in 18th
century England, where again appointments depended on patronage and were often
bought and sold.
of the modern meritocratic civil service can be traced back to Imperial
examination founded in Imperial China. The Imperial exam based on merit
designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system
had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly
responsible for the creation of a class of scholar-bureaucrats irrespective of their family
From the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BC to AD 220) until the implementation of the
imperial examination system, most appointments in the imperial bureaucracy were based
on recommendations from prominent aristocrats and local officials whilst recommended
individuals were predominantly of aristocratic rank. Emperor Wu of Han (141 BC to 87
BC) started an early form of the imperial examinations, transitioning from inheritance
and patronage to merit, in which local officials would select candidates to take part in an
examination of the Confucian classics. The system reached its apogee during the Song
The Chinese civil-service system gave the Chinese empire stability for more than 2,000
years and provided one of the major outlets for social mobility in Chinese society.
The modern examination system for selecting civil service staff also indirectly evolved
from the imperial one. This system was admired and then borrowed by European
countries from the 16th century onward, and is now the model for most countries
around the world. The first European power to successfully implement the meritocratic
civil service was the British Empire, in their administration of India: "company managers
hired and promoted employees based on competitive examinations in order to prevent
corruption and favoritism." British colonial administrators in China advocated the
spread of the system to the rest of the Commonwealth, the most prominent of which was
Thomas Taylor Meadows, Britain's consul in Guangzhou, China. Meadows successfully
argued in his Desultory Notes on the Government and People of China, published in
1847, that "the long duration of the Chinese empire is solely and altogether owing to the
good government which consists in the advancement of men of talent and merit only,"
and that the British must reform their civil service by making the institution
meritocratic. The report was influential. The British adopted a meritocratic civil
service following the Northcote-Trevelyan Report in 1853, and the Americans did
likewise in 1883, with the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.
1 "China's Examination Hell: The Civil Service Examinations of Imperial China".
History Today. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
2 "Imperial China: Civil Service Examinations". Princeton University. Retrieved October
3 "Confucianism and the Chinese Scholastic System: The Chinese Imperial Examination
System". California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
4 Roberts, J. A. G. (1999). A Concise History of China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press. ISBN 0-674-00075-7.
5 "Chinese civil service". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
6 Patricia Buckley Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2nd, 2010), 145-147, 198-200,
7 Brook, Timothy (1999). China and Historical Capitalism. New York: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-64029-6.
8 Kazin, Edwards, and Rothman (2010), 142.
9 Bodde,, Derke. "China: A Teaching Workbook". Columbia University.
L'Observatoire de l'administration publique, The Provincial Governments
Merit-based Civil Servants
Entrance to the service based on competitive exams.
Protection of civil servants from arbitrary removal.
Protection of their political neutrality.
Policing of these rules by an independent body.
positions are established centrally and classified according to rank;
bureaucrats are paid a salary and pension that is determined by their rank, rather
than the work that they do;
there are often impediments to external lateral entry at senior grades;
there are few points of entry, with most entering at a young age and most senior
positions filled by promotion.
Table 1: Comparing Civil-Service Systems: Management Principles
Patronage system (modern)
Informally based on loyalty/affinities,
Competitive, transparent process open
formally on merit criteria
to all citizens.
Most appointments on political/ welfare
Lifetime tenure, with removal only
grounds. Lifetime tenure, with removal
through due process, protects political
only through due process.
Formal pay structures undermined by
Relatively rigid pay structure based
variety of allowances, supplements, etc.
largely on rank (rather than work
Same as merit system.
Positions are established centrally and
classified according to rank.
external lateral entry at senior grades;
there are few points of entry, with
most entering at a young age and most
senior positions filled by promotion.
approaches to political appointments.
The amount and depth of political (as
opposed to merit) appointments is
Management is centralized, often with
Table 2: Comparing Civil-Service Systems: the External Environment
Patronage system (modern)
Modern spoils systems
Merit systems arise under mature
and the civil-
balances and where political parties
are funded independently of civil-
politics are based on spoils
A merit system, by protecting civil
systems, affinity systems
servants from politicians, promotes
credible commitment, but at the risk
of shirking and inefficiency.
many civil services function as
and the civil-
Poorly functioning labor
internal labor markets, insulated
markets, and scarcities of
from the national market.
Well-functioning labor markets, but
When a political party comes to power, its leaders tend to place many of their faithful
followers into important public offices. The use of public offices as rewards for political
party work is known as the "Spoils System."
The Civil service system in the Philippines is a product of its colonial history under Spain
and the United States of America. The First Philippines Commission otherwise known as
the Schurman Commission, adopted and organized by American President William Mc
Kinley, sat about to lay down the foundation of a Philippine civil service. This was
established on January 20, 1899. The objective was to formulate the criteria for
employment of Filipinos in the government. Therefore, as early as April 1899, the
Shurman Commission guaranteed to the Filipino people ― a honest and effective civil
service in which, to the fullest extent practicable, natives shall be employed‖
The Civil Service System in the Philippines was established by Act No.5 on September
19, 1900 of the Second Philippine Commission entitled ― An Act for the Establishment
and Maintenance of an Efficient and Honest Civil Service in the Philippines Island .‖ It
established the framework for a merit-based civil service system, mandating the
appointment and promotion to government positions according to merit and through
competitive examinations as far as practicable.
The Bureau of Civil Service was established, then, on November 31, 1900, with the
mandate that the ―greatest care should be taken in the selection of official for civil
administration.‖ To head the various executive and line agencies, the Philippine
Commission preferred American civilians or military men who had been honorably
discharged. All recruits, both American and Filipino, were to be ―men of the highest
character and fitness ―who could conduct their duties unaffected by ―partisan politics‖ .
In 1916 the Civil Service Law was embodied in the new Administrative Code. The
Bureau of Civil Service was, however, to continue under the control of an American
director until Jose Gil was appointed in 1920 as the first Filipino Director of Civil
Service. American leadership, coupled with Filipino cooperation made possible good
government service throughout the period of 1899-1920. The period 1913-1921 marked
the rapid Filipinization of Civil Service. In 1913, there were 2,623 Americans and 6,365
Filipinos in the government services. By 1921, there were only 614 Americans as against
13,240 Filipinos at the services.
11). Report of the Philippine Commission, January 31, 1900 (Washington, DC, : GPO,
On June 19, 1959, the new era for the civil service was ushered in with the approval by
President Carlos P. Garcia of the Republic Act No. 2260 which set down the new Civil
Service Law. It was one of the most progressive merit systems in the world at that time.
Among many benefits, it provided career and employee development, employee
suggestions and incentive awards, progressive performance rating and promotion plans,
and opportunity for the establishment of complaints and grievances procedures.
Despite such efforts, many defects were still found in the civil service system. Delays in
recruitment examination and placement of employees, inadequate discipline of civil
service employee, and the inability to attract persons of high caliber into the civil service,
widespread use of the spoil system, and rampart graft and corruption were characteristics
of the civil service until the decade of the 1970s.
By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1, which was made part of the law of the land on
September 24, 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos had implemented the Integrated
Reorganization Plan (IRP) which promised the most extensive and wrenching effort at
administrative reform in the country’s history. The IRP provided for decentralizing and
reducing the bureaucracy, and standardizing departmental organization. The IRP also
sought to introduce structural changes and reforms to strengthen the merit system as well
as professionalize the civil service system.
As far as the civil service itself were concerned, the IRP also provided the conversion of
the single headed Civil Service Commission (CSC) into a three-man body and the
formation of the Career Executive Service (CES). Two dramatic purges undertaken in
1973 and 1975 through which thousands of government employees, including cabinet
members, were fired, delivered the message that the regime was not going to tolerate bad
behavior. The bureaucracy under President Marcos become more subservient than at any
other time in the Philippine history (Endriga, 2001,p.216).
Under President Corazon Aquino, who was sworn in after the four day ― people power ―
revolt of February 22-25, 1986, another wave of administrative reforms was introduced.
Aside from restoring democratic institution and ratifying the new 1987, Constitution of
the Republic of the Philippines, guidelines for promoting public participation and private
initiative in state affairs were established. Accountability institutions, such as CSC,
Commission On Audit (COA), and Tanodbayan (an independent office of the
ombudsman), which were established during the Marcos era, were given expanded
powers under the new Constitution. Civil society organization became more visible in
government decision making and program implementation. According to one observer : ―
this was the most comprehensive articulation of bureaucracy for democracy ― (Carino,
1989, p.12). Taking advantage of its revolutionary character, the Aquino Government
resorted to a purge of thousands of civil servants through the expedient of reorganization
aiming to downsize the bloated government bureaucracy. Although the said step was
justified, paradoxically, the number of civil servants and political appointees, who did not
enter through the traditional career system and many of them from the private sector, in
the government increased considerably. The proliferation of political appointees blurred
the merit and career system of the civil service.
Civil service reform efforts were minimal during the presidential tenures of Fidel Ramos
(1992-1998) and Joseph Estrada (1998-2001). President Ramos simply focused on giving
life to the concept of new public management (NPM) with the end goal of reengineering
the civil service. His flagship program was the ―Philippines 2000 ― which was envisioned
to make the country globally competitive by pursuing the thrusts of deregulation, market
liberalization and privatization. The reengineering plan, however, remain just that with
the Congress not lying down the legal framework for streamlining the bureaucracy.
Under the Estrada Administration, Executive Order No.165 or ― Directing the
Formulation of an Institutional Strengthening and Streamlining Program for the
Executive Branch ― laid down the ― Re-Engineering the Bureaucracy for Better
Governance Program ― which eventually prompted the creation of the Presidential
Committee on Effective Governance (PCEG). The PCEG was also tasked with creating
an Integrated Administrative Reform Plan. President Estrada’s term however, was
plagued with charges of corruption and incompetence, and the reengineering initiatives
had the same fate as that of the Ramos Administration’s plan. The so-called ― Edsa Dos ―
or another ― people power ―, mobilization unseat President Estrada from January 16 to
20, 2001, abruptly ending Estrada’s 2,5 years rule and Vice President Gloria MacapagalArroyo (GMA) was immediately sworn in as president of the Republic of the Philippines.
Upon its assumption to office, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010)
continued the initiatives to streamline the bureaucracy, but as yet no overall agenda for
reform in the bureaucracy. In the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPD)
2001-2004, the present administration had adopted the ― Reengineering the Bureaucracy
for Better Governance Program ― inherited from the Estrada’s administration. The PCEG
was likewise reactivated as the ad-hoc body that shall be the focal point of administrative
reforms in the civil service. In October 4, 2004, the Department of Budget and
Management (DBM) and the CSC pursued the Rationalization Program as mandated in
the executive order from the Presidents or EO No.366.
Philippine Civil Service Commission
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is the central personnel agency of the Philippine
government. One of the three independent constitutional commissions with adjudicative
responsibility in the national government structure, it is also tasked to render final
arbitration on disputes and personnel actions on Civil Service matters.
Recruitment, building, maintenance and retention of a competent,
professional and highly motivated government workforce truly responsive
to the needs of the government's client - the public.
leading and initiating the professionalization of the civil service;
promoting public accountability in government service;
adopting performance-based tenure in government; and
implementing the integrated rewards and incentives program for
The Philippine Civil Service has undergone a great number of reforms in terms of
structure, size, leadership, position classification, and pay scheme, among others, under
the management and regulation of the CSC. Presently, CSC’s mandate is based on
Executive Order No. 292 or the Revised Administrative Code of 1987.
Through the years, the CSC has initiated various programs and issued policies towards
building a highly competent, credible, and motivated bureaucracy. Its latest agenda is to
elevate itself as ―Asia’s leading center of excellence for strategic human resource and
organization development by 2030‖ and to make a lingkod bayani out of every civil
servant. “Lingkod bayani” is a play on the terms “lingkod bayan” (public servant) and
“bayani” (hero), thus associating state workers with their capacity to be heroes in their
own right. The CSC manages and develops the bureaucracy’s most important resource—
its people—through five HR initiatives:
Recruitment Hiring of high-performing, competent, and credible civil servants
through the Competency-Based Recruitment and Qualification Standards
Performance Management Performance review and appraisal through the
Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS);
HR Coaching Coaching to improve employee performance, as well as develop
leadership skills of supervisors and managers;
Learning and Development Direct training and personnel development
interventions in the areas of governance and leadership, human resource and
organizational development, public service reforms, and values and culture
building through the Civil Service Institute; and
Agency Accreditation Accreditation of agencies for the establishment of their
own human resource management systems and standards through the Program to
Institutionalize Meritocracy and Excellence in Human Resource Management
The Civil Service Commission Leadership
Chairman, Philippine Civil Service Commission
He completed his medical education from the esteemed Pontifical
and Royal University of Santo Tomas (UST) in 1982. In 1987, he
earned a Master of Science degree from Georgetown University in
Washington, D.C. He subsequently excelled in the Executive
Education Program of the distinguished Harvard University School of Public Health in
He was the PhilHealth President and CEO from 2001-2005, and later became the Health
Secretary from 2005 to 2010.
Appointed in 2010 as Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, he lost no time in
charting a brighter, better course for the bureaucracy. He was pivotal in developing the
Commission’s Roadmap for Development and Reforms for 2010-2015, a five-year
blueprint which spelled out the Commission’s priority programs for the country’s 1.4
He steered the Commission in the adoption of the Performance Governance System
onwards to setting the agency’s vision of becoming ―Asia’s leading Center of Excellence
Through his initiative, the CSC was awarded just recently, the ISO 9001:2008
certification for establishing a quality management system in three core functions
namely, cases adjudication, examination administration, and appointments processing,
that meets international standards.
Chairman Duque’s extensive portfolio mirrors a dedicated public servant and a
recognized leader who has served the health needs of the Filipino nation for nine years
and is now blazing new trails, and breaking new grounds in the challenging field of
public Human Resource Development and Management. His passion for service keeps
the CSC moving towards achieving its core purpose of making every public servant a
servant hero – Gawing lingkod bayani ang bawat kawani.
Atty. Robert S. Martinez
Commissioner, Civil Service Commission
Appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III. Former Subic Bay
Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Deputy Administrator.
He replaced Rasol I. Mitmug, will serve as CSC Commissioner until
Feb 2, 2018, according to his appointment paper signed by the
President on July 6.
He obtained Civil Service Professional Eligibility in 1981, and Career Executive Service
(CES) Eligibility in 2001. He was appointed to CESO Rank IV in 2003.
He was director for general administrative serve of the Department of Trade and Industry
from 2002 to 2008, and worked as chief of the Human Resources Development Division
of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions from 1994 to 2002, and as
Corporate Secretary to the Citem Board of Governors from 1989 to 1994.
Nieves L. Osorio
Commissioner, Civil Service Commission
Former Chairperson of the Career Executive Service Board
(CESB), was appointed ad interim commissioner last March 20 by
the Office of the President replacing former Commissioner Mary
Ann Z. Fernandez-Mendoza. Her term expires on February 2020.
As the new Commissioner, Osorio brings to the CSC her vast managerial and executive
experience in government service, as well as her advocacy for good corporate
governance. She holds a Career Executive Service Officer (CESO) Rank I. She served as
President and Chief Executive Officer of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities
Management (PSALM) Corporation from 2005 to 2007 and as Finance Undersecretary in
She also served as Executive Vice President of the Philippine National Oil Company
(1996-2001), Director IV in the Department of Budget and Management (1988-1995),
and Assistant National Treasurer (1984-1988). She likewise had experience in the
academe as instructor/faculty member/lecturer on statistics, public administration, tax
policy, and business administration.
She finished her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor’s degree in Statistics
from the University of the Philippines.
The Philippine Civil Service System faces tougher challenges, given the premiere of
globalization, the growing trend toward greater civil society and private sector
participation in the management of state affairs, and the paradigm shift in the
Government’s role from command and control to facilitation and flexibility. Increasingly,
stakeholders are realizing and accepting that the Government cannot fulfill its mandate
effectively if it operates in isolation. A positive trend toward strengthening existing
institution will enhance cooperation within the public sector and between government
agencies and civil society and government agencies and the private sector. In this context,
institutional reform efforts require capacity-building strategies to mainstream good
governance, not just as end in it but also as a process for improving the performance of
The expanding economic activities demand that not only civil servants in general be fully
equipped and trained for the great tasks but orientation and motivation should permeate
especially the higher echelons. Such orientation is being provided in almost all countries
to equip them to undertake the more complex tasks and to create the necessary
environment. It is also be ensured that professionalism within the civil service always be
required in modern administration. The merit-based hiring and promotion system should
always be kept so that the most qualified and competent applicant who eventually gets
the position will perform and deliver the serviced expected of him or her .
12 ). Professionalism is difficult to be maintained if incoming political leadership often
instituting personnel who are the supporters of the new regime. The new recruits, the
―political appointees‖, were perceived to be arrogant, ignorant of government’s working
environment, culture and procedures, since many of them come from the non
bureaucratic-sector. Discussion with DR. Karina Constantino-David, a former
chairperson of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, at the
University of the Philippines (UP) Campus, Dilliman, Quezon City.