A LONG time ago, as the Davao City mayor, President Rodrigo Duterte would tell his department heads to follow his lead by reminding them that even in a movie, what is needed is just one "actor", referring to the star of the show.
If only things were still that simple.
Looking in from the outside, that is actually what weakens this administration: the actors. Politicians who cannot give the center stage to just one leader, these people walk around making their own declarations, many times skewed, while carrying their brand of being Duterte's chosen.
But then, we can't blame them. That is the system we have known for so long, where politicians strut around with their chests puffed out, talking of things most unbelievable and their only claim to fame being a chosen one of the present leader.
This is where we appreciate most the volunteers, who have thrown in their muscles and expertise behind the Duterte administration, the bloggers and OFWs among them. While many detractors accuse them of just wanting to get a prime government spot, we believe them when they say, they'd rather not be in government. For to be in government means getting their powers pruned if not plucked by those who have been in government longer and refuse to entertain changes.
Volunteers have long been hailed as a potent force and the spirit of volunteerism as a catalyst of change. But for so long, we have allowed this only for community and welfare services, never in governance. Volunteerism has by itself been marginalized to address only the marginalized.
Davao City got it right some time ago when the private sector has taken up the slack, with government acknowledging and allowing them thus fanning greater involvement whether it be in donation drives, business development and trade shows and yes, charity work, where government cannot focus on as there are the thousands of poor and vulnerable to attend to.
In the 2015 State of the World's Volunteerism Report focusing on Transforming Governance, it reads:
"National governments will find that creating greater space for volunteerism will see greater social inclusion, improved social and development results and smoother-running services. Returns on engagement with volunteers and volunteerism are maximized when enabling conditions, like freedom of speech and association and an atmosphere of vigorous political debate, are already in place. Information and communication technology – including blogs, monitoring platforms and social media – enables volunteers to complement mainstream media with grassroots-generated real-time information and to find new entry points for voice and dialogue."
The volunteers are where the present administration can get its greatest strength from, aside from the government executives who truly believe and know and forward the President's agenda.
The rest of the politicos? We just have to suffer from and treat them as a reminder of where we have come from and where we refuse to go back to. It will be of great help to our country's further development if we do not vote them to power again.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 17, 2017.
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