Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sangil: How to form a Cabinet

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PRESIDENTS, past and present, waged their own campaigns vs. corruption. President Duterte launched his own. But sad to say, like his campaign against illegal drugs, his anti-corruption war is not getting much headway. Just a few days ago, billions went to sticky fingers by defrauding PhilHealth of billions of pesos. It took a three-part series of exposé before Malacañang lifted a finger. Can you pinpoint an agency of government where corruption, big or small, is not committed?

Corruption comes from Latin word “corruptus” which means to break or destroy. It would mean it breaks the trust the public conferred to their leaders. The people vote for the president, and it is up to the elected head of state to form his team to deliver the services expected of him.

How does a president form his cabinet and select heads of different agencies? Under President Duterte, it is no question that he has the penchant of appointing former military people. Some people don’t see anything wrong with that. We cannot even fault him if he is indeed very biased on his choices. That’s his prerogative. But what we cannot allow to pass is his keeping them despite their booboos. You have to remove your shoes because our 10 fingers are not enough when we count the number of former soldiers and cops in our government today. And unqualified cabinet members.

It might be recalled that when Ferdinand Marcos assumed the presidency after beating Diosdado Macapagal - the poor boy from Lubao - in the presidential contest, he formed a search committee to recruit the best and the brightest. Unlike Duterte’s choices who are mostly from Davao, classmates, financial supporters and military people.

It was an enviable Marcos cabinet. His executive secretaries were Alex Melchor, Rafael Salas and Ernesto Maceda, among others. Secretary of Local Government was Jose Rono from Samar, Natural Resources Secretary Jose Leido was from Mindoro, Press Secretary Francisco “Kit” Tatad is from Catanduanes, Labor Secretary Blas F. Ople was from Bulacan. Vicente Abad Santos, Ricardo Puno and Estelito Mendoza all served as justice secretary. They are all Kapampangans.

Carlos P. Romulo of Tarlac was Foreign Affairs secretary. Ernesto Mata of Ilocos was Defense Secretary, and was followed by Juan Ponce Enrile of Cagayan. Sonny Escudero of Sorsogon was Agriculture secretary. Finance Secretary was Cesar Virata. There were more people who were all qualified to be in their offices, unlike today, they are there because they are either Mindanaoans, classmates and former soldiers.

President Duterte’s choices are not a champion team, to say the least. Sans for a few like Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, the others are mediocre.

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