You have to wonder if the charge of “kaibigan, kaklase, kabarilan” is coming only from the GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) camp. The reason for that is that you’ll notice that none of the kaibigans, if not kaklase and kabarilan who have been singled out for vitriol belongs to the so-called “Balay” camp, or the camp associated with Mar Roxas. The implication is that only the non-“Balay” people have been hired on the basis of friendship and not competence.
None of the “KKK” has included Butch and Julia Abad, the budget and PMS secretaries respectively. Can anything be more benighted, not to speak of unethical, than having family control two vital positions in Malacañang? That’s as ironclad a case of Kamaganak Inc. as you can get. It’s also as misplaced a show of pagkakaibigan as you can get. That’s a formula for a bottleneck, and bottleneck is what it has produced.
None of the “KKK” has included Ricky Carandang who has managed to alienate reporters rather than get them on government’s side. Who has managed to alienate other networks by favoring the one he came from, specifically by leaking news in advance to it. Who has managed to alienate his boss from the people by failing to communicate the message his boss wants communicated.
None of the “KKK” has included Roxas himself who has foisted himself on P-Noy (President Benigno Aquino III) on the basis of pagkakaibigan, pinagsamahan, and having “sacrificed” by stepping down, demanding all sorts of positions before being ordered to accept the DoTC post. Whose competence has so far included switching sides from Erap to Gloria to P-Noy, a la Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Santiago, managing to lose a “won game” in the vice-presidential race, and managing to sneak into the United Nations last year as part of P-Noy’s official entourage without being in government.
No, the accusation of “KKK” is not just coming from without, it’s coming from within.
Which brings us to the real problem. By itself, putting friends and classmates in sensitive positions is not a problem, though I grant putting kabarilans or comrades-in-arms in the more dissolute sense in them is an invitation to mayhem—in more ways than one. Gun buddies are worse than golf buddies. Who else will you put in sensitive positions but people you know and trust? The rest of the bureaucracy can be filled by career executives—there are more than 5,000 posts there—but the sensitive ones you fill with people you handpick. Which leader hasn’t? The only question is whether the classmates and friends are deserving. If Edcel Lagman’s targets are any indication, it’s the wrong people who are being targeted.
The problem is not that P-Noy has put friends and classmates in high office, it’s that he can’t seem to impose his will on them. Or shown any great desire to do so. Maybe Roxas’ assignment, or banishment, to the DoTC will lessen the infighting between the “Balay” and “Samar” camps in Malacañang; it has at least aborted the impending confrontation between Roxas and Paquito Ochoa, the executive secretary, had Roxas gotten what he wanted, which was to become chief of staff. But the way the “Balay” group has escaped inclusion in the kaibigans though they have dominated the appointments, which must raise suspicions about their having a hand in raising the specter of “KKK,” doesn’t augur well for it.
But it’s not just a question of personality, it’s a question of purpose. Being masterful or authoritative or willful is a relative virtue, not an absolute one. Depends on what you’re masterful, authoritative, or willful about. We have not lacked for leaders who were exceptionally masterful, authoritative, and willful, Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Arroyo being prime examples of them. But they were masterful only in ruling illegitimately, they were authoritative only in corrupting every institution of society, they were resolute only in stamping out dissent.
No, it’s not just a question of personality, it’s a question of purpose. That especially bears on the P-Noy government because the expectations are high. The people took heroic action to bring it to power, they expect heroic action from it in turn. So far that has not been seen. Maybe it has been communicated badly, maybe it has not been communicated at all, maybe it is not there at all. But that is what exacerbates the squabbling inside Malacañang, the seeming lack of purpose, or purposefulness, of government. A year after it was voted into power, it seems to be merely coasting along.
One year after being voted into power, it has yet to file a single charge against the former First Couple. Never mind corruption in the broader sense of the word, which is really what they ought to be charged with—the twisting to obscene lengths of everything this country holds sacred—just corruption in the narrow sense of pagnanakaw, pandarambong, pangungulimbat. It’s a sin of omission that has emboldened the guilty to commit new sins, not least turning the table around and completely mind-bogglingly pointing to P-Noy as the one not fit to rule.
One year after being voted into power, it has not harnessed and unleashed the spirit of voluntarism that brought it to power, which is People Power in a very real sense, and directed it toward rectifying the past, toward building a new world.
Idle minds are the devil’s workshop. Officials with time to spare will use that time to sow intrigues against each other. Officials who do not, whose time is occupied with doing what needs to be done, indeed whose waking hours are devoted to accomplishing titanic things on pain of punishment, on pain of banishment, will not. First, be clear about the purpose, first be demanding about the task. Then everything else follows.
Otherwise it will just be a lot of kababawbabawan, kawala-walang ganang, kalokohan.
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