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Duterte as Don Quixote

/ 12:10 AM June 29, 2016

“The trouble with us in government is that we talk too much, act too slow, and do little.”—President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte

Why do government officials and employees—be they clerks, regional directors, congressmen, senators or Malacañang appointees, etc.—seem to have embraced, with impunity, the culture of arrogance and abuse (read: corruption) in dealing with the people?

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Like it or not, I believe it’s because they are driven by absolute greed, the unending quest for power, and the urge to make money the easy way.

On June 30, once President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assumes office, this may have to be one of the many urgent concerns (in the minds of many other ordinary Filipinos) that he will have to address.

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At 71, Duterte should have the guts, physical stamina and emotional balance to impose law and order as he had promised during the election campaign. On top of his promise to stop the worsening criminality and illegal drug trafficking, Duterte has to have the nerve of steel and the heart of the lion to steer his administration as he envisions it to be—with no biases, executing the law without fear or favor.

Duterte wants a country free of illegal drugs, where its  people can sleep safe and sound. He wants a country where every man and woman can wave the national flag with pride and respect. He wants  a country prosperous enough to wrest millions of Filipinos from the clutches of extreme hunger and despair.

To the tough-talking mayor of Davao, it’s a do or die kind of governance. As I see it, his first year would be crucial and maybe “bloody,” as he himself put it. For example, cleaning up the bureaucracy, definitely, would not be a walk in the park, so to speak. And ridding the country of drug lords, rapists and criminals would be far more difficult.

Definitely, they are disturbing to those who benefit from crime and large-scale thievery.

A lawmaker once proposed an “anti-arrogance law” that would penalize government officials and employees who display rude and arrogant behavior in the performance of their duties as public servants. There was also a proposal for the enactment of an “antiname-dropping law” that would also penalize private individuals flaunting their “connections” to high government officials to get out of “sticky situations.”

Unfortunately, these proposals never went “viral” among our lawmakers, to whom being a public official is a “license” to be arrogant toward ordinary citizens.

With his vow to fight corruption in government, Duterte may look like a Don Quixote in the making. But it’s a fight Duterte has committed himself to, however a make-or-break fight it is for him and his administration.

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Academics say this time and again: The reason our nation wallows in rotten governance is simply the lack of patriotism of our government people. But there is no denying that as citizens, we tend to be self-centered, concerned only about ourselves and our families, and about our incomes and business ventures.

In others words, accountability to the people and the nation has been sidelined by a greedy few, to the detriment of the majority.

—RUFFY MAGBANUA, [email protected]

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TAGS: corruption, Don Quixote, drugs, Rodrigo Duterte
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