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Sunday, September 15, 2019
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Ledesma: Walking out of a Cabinet meeting

Sunbursts

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte walking out of the Cabinet meeting in utter frustration and disgust?

This is not the first time I heard of a Chief Executive displaying exasperation over issues involving corruption and sluggish action on vital government programs.

Former president Ferdinand Marcos towards the end of his regime felt lonely and helpless about what was going on with the government.

Debilitated by disease that confined him in the dark corridors of Malacañang, the former strongman was fed the good news by his subalterns and cronies he thought that everything was rosy outside. Corruption and abuse in and out of Malacañang eroded the golden era that he had sought to valiantly achieve.

He was isolated, desolate and desperate. I think he had wanted to quit both the power that he wields and the life that made him inutile anyway but those in his cordon sanitaire propped him, pumped fresh blood into his veins, they kept him alive for these spell bonanza for them for as long as he lives.

But unlike Marcos, President Duterte is as strong as a bull. Only his salivating critics and some hypocritical bishops wanted to see him dead.

Members of his cabinet are not lightweight although there are a few who are plainly benchwarmers, spineless and make shortcuts of laws and regulations. There are sprinklings in the lower echelons that were accommodated because they were extensions of those who helped in the campaign or those who pretended they helped in his campaign. Duterte too is kind and forgiving some of his vicious enemies in his past political struggles had been forgiven and are now safely ensconced in the positions they held today.

Walk out? That should be the last thing I expect from our President. Is he out of touch? I do not think so. He has dismissed a number of those holding sensitive positions, among them his friends, and I cannot bring myself to agree to the notion that he is adamant to dismiss those who do come close to his standard of service and decision making.

President Duterte made mention about the Department of Agrarian Reform which dilly dallies on request for land conversions to give way to some urgent projects beneficial to the public. I have seen a letter from that office which states that it refused to accept requests for land conversions because the President had set a timetable of 15 days for them to act. Good that he replaced Sec. Rafael Mariano who cannot macro-manage the department and then promoted Karlo Bello as Under Secretary, things are revving up.

The President too is perceived to have his own cordon sanitaire. In the case of the search for the 3rd telco which he wanted to be achieved expeditiously, the President was made to believe by regulators that a case seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) was filed in the Supreme Court thus the delay. Whoever made this allegation mustered a lot of courage to make a fool out of the President knowing he is too averse against TRO as it delays projects. The fact is there was none.

Then there is that brazen move to “cure” the inadequacies of the telco which the regulators selected to be the new major player in the telecom industry. They appealed to Congress to cure the defects, a matter which is a subject of prequalification but casually ignored.

For how many million reasons why this has to be done, I can neither comprehend nor speculate. They cured it anyway despite the Palace knowledge that there were serious defects in the franchise of the winner. The regulators lawyering for a preferred bidder is out of place in this government but it is happening and covered in living colors via the intimate medium – television.

For the regulators to accept a very lame and funny fairy tale that a national franchise cannot operate within a strictly prescribed period because of untenable peace and order condition in one remote barangay in an equally remote province is plainly ridiculous if not decadent.

But that is not enough. The lawyer of the telco who looks like Adel Tamano had the temerity to declare on nationwide TV that the Solicitor General will not even dare to file a quo warranto to question the validity of the franchise of his client.

Is this among the reasons why the President walked out? President Duterte knew that there were more than 10 interested bidders who are qualified. Why cannot the government search for one which has a valid franchise?, this according to the President’s spokesman Salvador Panelo.

The President’s men should not take the bold and shameless step of defending what is not defensible. On the other hand our President should not agonize over what he thinks is wrong in the bureaucracy.

UP Professor Clarita Carlos has an unsolicited advice. Immediately DISMISS the head of office to serve notice to others to shape up. Demonstration effect, according to her, is powerful.

Undertake a massive comprehensive review of all manner of laws, orders that will provide regulatory relief to our over regulated economic environment; Quickly create a Presidential Task Force that will do a genuine bureaucratic reform to address the overlaps, duplications and unclear lines of authority that impede economic growth; streamline any and all processes concomitant with the above 3 to radically reduce bureaucratic holdups which are really breeding grounds for corruption.

These are sound pieces of advice coming from the author of bureaucratic reforms but I wonder how the Professor can address problems that sprung from congressional hearings in aid of elections.


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