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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The environmental requirement of good governance

“Without national stability, there cannot be great progress”

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Judged by any standard, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, now in its lame-duck stage, cannot be said to be one of the best of the 11 administrations that have run this country since 1946. Indeed, the Duterte administration arguably has been one of the worst. Rodrigo Duterte has himself only – and nobody else – to blame for that.

No nation in the world can be said to enjoy complete stability. There will always be differences and rivalries of one kind or another – ideological, racial, cultural, economic, etc. – among the citizenry. But a Chief Executive bent on bringing about the greatest amount of progress and well-being to his or her people will strive to create a national environment in which stability can flourish and discord is minimized.

A national environment of stability requires four elements principally – respect for the rule of law, patriotism, civility and good managerial skills. Soon after Day One in office, Rodrigo Duterte made it apparent that he was not out to create a national environment of stability; on the contrary, the former mayor of Davao City seemed intent on settling old scores and unburdening himself of simmering frustrations. National stability has never had a chance under Mr. Duterte’s stewardship.

The first casualty of Rodrigo Duterte’s I’ll-do-as-I-please governance style was the rule of law in relation to the treatment of illegal drug users and pushers. With Mr. Duterte’s first utterance of the word “kill,” PNP (Philippine National Police) personnel involved in the anti-illegal drugs campaign created what was to become the infamous EJK (extra-judicial killings) problem. No predecessor of Rodrigo Duterte had ever used the word “kill” in his or her public utterances; that is totally inappropriate for a President of the Republic. In the minds of the Filipino people – and eventually – in the minds of international human rights activists and ICC (International Criminal Court) investigations – the impression was that Rodrigo Duterte was determined to achieve his drug war objective within or outside the rule of law.

The President is the father (or mother) of the nation. As such, he or she is expected to behave properly and to treat his or her children, the Filipino people, with civility. No Chief Executive before Rodrigo Duterte – not even tough guy Joseph Ejercito Estrada had ever used cuss words in public. The closest thing to a Presidential cuss word was Manuel Quezon’s “Puñeta.” But Rodrigo Duterte, during his days in Malacanang, elevated cussing to the level of an art.

Experts who may study and compare the records of this country’s 11 presidents with regard to management of men and resources are bound to not place Rodrigo Duterte at the top of the ranking. It has been said that Mr. Duterte brought to Malacañang the managerial and decision-making styles of a city mayor and prosecutor. Unfortunately, the Office of the President of the Philippines is neither the Davao City mayor’s office nor the office of the Davao City prosecutor. Add to that Rodrigo Duterte’s willful and impulsive nature and you have an enormous problem. On May 9, 2022 the Filipino people must not elect a president, a man or woman who merely recycles foul-smelling public officials instead of throwing them out of the service.

A president is a Filipino who by oath is bound to defend and protect the patrimony. The ordinary Filipino does not have to take such an oath, but he feels very strongly about other countries’ attacks on the territory or intrusions into the sovereignty of the Philippines. President Duterte apparently does not realize the depth of the wound that his abject submission to China on the West Philippine Sea issue has caused in the heart and soul of every patriotic Filipino. There can be no national stability for as long as the Filipino people feel that their President is allowing other countries to get away with infringing upon the nation’s sovereignty.

The past six years have not been a period of stability in this country, which explains that the administration of Rodrigo Duterte has been, comparatively speaking, one of the worst-performing administrations in Philippine history. Without national stability, there cannot be great progress; the two are inseparable.

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