Change not coming soon
Seven months into “Pagbabago,” Filipinos still hope change will come. But it is obvious this won’t happen as easily as initially thought—and there does not seem to be any sense of urgency to position competent officials to attend to the business of governance. Daily tirades from President Duterte now sound like mere cheerleading—and yet our basketball team can’t win any games because our players are “bano” and several justice department officials seem to be as corrupt as their predecessors.
In fact, a signature “war on drugs” has run into unintended consequences (like the killing of a mayor, Rolando Espinosa, in a government jail, and the murder of a Korean right inside Camp Crame itself)—the result of the lack of an implementation plan to weed out the deep roots of an oligarchic criminal network. Also, traffic continues to stall the daily commute despite all the bravado in the early announcements of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. And there are rumors that the Philippines will soon be returned to the Financial Action Task Force’s blacklist due to money-laundering activities like the Bangladesh case.
Making governance worse, many key positions remain unfilled—and most of the positions that have been filled are occupied by incompetents. In some cases, officials of the old order are successfully blocking entry of new appointees because of their oligarchic control over the bureaucracy. The vetting process continues to move at a snail’s pace, so, close to 4,000 positions are still unfilled. There are also talks that the Supreme Court ruling on the vice presidential electoral protest will favor the side that has the bigger war chest. So it’s still “business as usual” notwithstanding all the bluster from President Duterte and some of his officials.
Meantime, the world is also going through many readjustments, especially with Donald Trump’s ascension to power as US president— and the many changes this brings. Among the expected challenges is the China Sea disputes, and the trade war that pits China against the United States, Japan and Russia, especially on the matter of infrastructure in the Philippines.
Global geopolitics, local oligarchs and a corrupt bureaucracy are now working to neutralize Mr. Duterte’s best intentions. Does the President possess the political will to inject a little more urgency to the reforms that are needed?
JOSE Z. OSIAS, convenor, BalikProbinsiya, [email protected]
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