Thursday , June 21, 2018

Carvajal: Musical chairs

IN he friendly game of musical chairs, the winner is usually the person who cuts in and shoves off the person competing with her/him for the chair she/he is eyeing to grab. The degree of shoving is in direct proportion to the prize at stake. The bigger the prize the harder the shoving.

The music and the players can change but as long as the essential structure (chairs arranged in a circle) of the game is unchanged the winner will always be the quickest and hardest shover. If we, therefore, want no pushing (which by the way is the fun part) we have to change the game.

This is exactly what happens in the not-so-friendly high-stakes game being played in government departments and offices. No matter who you put at Customs, the BIR, the LTO, the PNP, etc., she/he will always be vulnerable to the temptation to push morals aside because the structure of the political version of the game is essentially weak and shot full of holes.

Senate investigations, for instance, are supposed to be in aid of legislation. Yet so far they stop at pinning people down, rightly or wrongly, and getting them replaced. But because they leave the structure of the questioned departments/ offices essentially unchanged, the replacements soon succumb to temptation and become in turn targets of official investigations.

Then there’s the Commission on Appointments (CA) that rejected four secretaries who were doing an excellent job at their posts as beneficiaries of their departments claim. Without saying those it confirmed are patsies, this suspiciously could mean that the CA wants appointees whom they feel could be swayed to widen the holes for them for their political and economic interests.

All these offices need restructure, their holes plugged and weak links welded with stricter implementing rules and oversight policies. It is not enough to simply change the players. As weak as the structures are, it would take a saint to resist the temptation to exploit their gaping cheat-holes.

The need for restructure goes up to the offices of the Chief Justice, of the Senate President, of the Speaker of the House and even of the Chief Executive. These positions pack too much power that an insignificant few have so far been able to resist the opportunities for greed that big cheat-holes in the structure offer.

At this level, restructure means a shift to federalism. And it is interesting to note that those who want President Duterte ousted are openly against restructure. They simply want to take over and be the ones to wield the power and enjoy the privileges of high offices in government.

We cannot have traditional politicians keep playing musical chairs. Filipinos need essential game changes to have any chance of winning.