A demolition job | Inquirer Opinion
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A demolition job

That Mar Roxas will succeed Ping de Jesus as DoTC secretary cannot in any way soften or disguise the fact that a man of tested integrity and competence, not to mention personal loyalty, has resigned from the Aquino administration. And De Jesus definitely does not deserve the demolition job that he is being subjected to by the administration spin masters (including their “media consultants”), although there are already signs that the demolition job has sown the seeds of its self-destruction.

De Jesus’ “tested integrity and competence” label is based on his performance in his Cabinet positions under Cory Aquino, the last of which was as DPWH secretary, as well as his performance in the private sector after he left government. Which shows that the test of the pudding is in the eating: if he was corrupt or inept, he certainly would not have been welcomed with open arms by the private sector when Cory stepped down.

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The way he handled his resignation is proof enough of his “personal loyalty” label: he did not want to embarrass the administration, so he cited personal reasons, and/or a desire to return to the private sector.

This did not seem to be enough for some Aquino lieutenants who were panicked by the possibility of negative repercussions on the President’s already-questionable management style. So someone must have come up with the “bright idea” of a face-saver to make it appear that De Jesus had made an agreement with P-Noy prior to his appointment that he would stay and “help out” only for a year.

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The bright idea was stupid, of course. In the sense that it actually made P-Noy look stupid. Because if P-Noy knew beforehand that De Jesus was to be with the DoTC for only one year, he shouldn’t have had to be going through hoops trying to bring Mar Roxas into his official family with a chief of staff job whose terms of reference were progressively being watered down by parties who felt threatened by Roxas’ prospective presence in Malacañang. Rather, P-Noy would have merely announced that Roxas would be taking over from De Jesus by July 1, as previously agreed on.

Moreover, the spin was incredible. De Jesus would not have had to cite personal reasons or his desire to return to the private sector as reasons for his resignation. He would merely have cited the pre-appointment agreement.

Since the public wasn’t buying (the public isn’t stupid), they then came up with a demolition job idea: De Jesus didn’t resign, he was fired. Why? Because, they say, he was corrupt. They then cite chapter and verse De Jesus’ “corruption.” But he has refuted these charges point by point, in a letter which, at this writing, has not yet been published in the newspaper that ran the supposed “exposé”. Although I am prepared to take his word (I’ve known the fellow for 25 years) anytime over so-called “highly reliable government sources” (the cowards), the fact is that the DOTC records back him up – he is meticulous at record keeping.

Still not content with putting De Jesus down, they proceeded to extol the President, saying that P-Noy has “gone past the learning curve” and is “actually in control and calling the shots, contrary to public perception” (note again, the implication that the public is stupid), with the firing of De Jesus and the other officials of DOTC “proving that when it comes to corruption, there will be no compromise.”

Then these spin doctors get even more carried away. They try to transform the image of LTO chief (on leave) Virginia Torres from someone who was recommended to be charged (by a Department of Justice fact-finding committee) with “GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY or GROSS INCOMPETENCE, or in the alternative, with GRAVE MISCONDUCT” (emphasis theirs) in regard to the Stradcom takeover incidents, to a heroine who was doing her best to save the government from a contract she considered illegal.

Busy little bees, these spin doctors. But instead of making the President look good, they may have achieved the opposite effect. Why? Only consider: P-Noy, according to the “good authority,” had been “gathering information from independent sources” about Arroyo administration contracts and came across the “questionable contracts of DoTC” and then “crosschecked and validated” his findings with an “expert.” Nowhere in this story is it stated that P-Noy at any time called his supposed alter ego in the DoTC, De Jesus, and asked him to give his side or defend himself. It was all done quietly. What does that say of the President’s management style?

Or take Torres. If she was trying to protect the government from a rapacious faction of Stradcom, how does that jibe with her testimony that she was “neutral”?

Since De Jesus seems to prefer to suffer in silence (his loyalty seems to have no bounds), we may never know his side. But there is a version which is definitely consistent with all news stories before his resignation was announced, and at the very least does not strain credulity: De Jesus comes in to the DOTC, which before his entry was a huge milking cow for insiders and their contractor friends. He puts a stop to all that, stepping on some very sensitive toes in the process, no matter in how mild-mannered a fashion he does this. So out come the knives, figuratively speaking, and the intrigues which fall on receptive ears. When P-Noy ignores the DoJ recommendation on Torres (who flaunts her closeness to the President), that is the last straw for De Jesus. The end.

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TAGS: Aquino, Benigno Aquino III, Demolition job, Department of Tourism and Communications, DOTC, Graft and Corruption, Jose “Ping” de Jesus, Manuel “Mar” Roxas, politics
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