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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Echaves: President’s men

NANGKA , durian and mabolo. Blue cheese, quezo de bola and goat cheese. To some people, they can be an acquired taste.

So, too, for Rodrigo Duterte, now president of this nation. This, especially if and when he delivers on his campaign promises and stays true to his 3-6 months’ time frame.

Already, some local drug pushers have surrendered and others to come, fearing that the rich bounty money could send their friends berserk enough to turn them in.

Plus the police force and competitors. Of course we readily ask, “Where was all this zeal and ‘passionate’ pursuit in the pre-Duterte days?”

For one, there was no such incentive before from the highest post of the land. Now, a policeman can do his job of pursuing criminals, collar them, engage them in a shootout, kill them, and get instant reward.

Was the shooting with impunity? The game seems to now be a rehash of “Yours is not to question why; yours is to do or die.”

So, quarters have joined the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to bewail human rights violations. Also, were arrest warrants even served? And were the drugs really planted, as alleged by the arrested? It’s anyone’s guess.

As for killing the suspects with impunity? The new President’s one liner of “You mind your business; I will mind mine” is cryptic. It’s a message presumably directed to the CHR members as well as to senators who’re expected to create some bumps in Duterte’s road.

But we can be sure the CHR members are more afraid of dead victims asking them why their deaths are unresolved and remain unjustified.

And Senators Antonio Trillanes, Panfilo Lacson, Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros are no palefaces.

“You mind your business and I will mind mine” is their battlecry as well.

But I’m earnestly excited about the changes in governance under the Duterte administration.

Let’s see if heads will indeed roll if the 72-hour response time for processing and completing business documentation papers is not followed.

Let’s see if indeed, the business forms will be simplified so that the required signatures are peeled down to the barest minimum. After all, for every level of review set up, there is an equivalent number of opportunities for grease money to pass between hands.

So, the fewer the reviewers, the faster the transaction should be. Now, whether or not the transaction happens without any grease money (for expediting, for looking the other way, or for saying thank you) is naturally another matter.

Since Duterte will focus on drugs, corruption and criminality, he will leave the operations in other departments to the respective cabinet secretaries.

His twin mandates are clear: Choose your own people and run your departments well; therefore, no corruption. Otherwise, you and your people are out.

I like this kind of tough talk, and any decent Filipino will support him in this move. This means whoever among his secretaries or their subalterns initially planned to join government so they could dip their hands into the national coffers, too, must think again. Including conjuring “creative” ways of pilfering and getting away with it. Let’s hope there are no such evil spirits among all the president’s men.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)
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