I remember very well how the fanboys and fangirls of Noynoy Aquino, in the early days of his newly minted administration, regularly taunted the critics of their idol. “Why don’t you become president first?” was one of their regular self-righteous putdowns.
These days, the favorite pastime of the orphaned Yellows (especially those identified with Mar Roxas) is to cut down the nominees of president-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte, whose initial choices for his Cabinet are routinely dismissed for their supposed lack of brain power, track record or loyalty. Like most endeavors of the adherents of the soon-to-be-shut down Daang Matuwid, this one has quickly degenerated into an exercise in hypocrisy.
If we follow the Yellow logic—a phrase that is often a contradiction in terms —then we must accept that Aquino chose only the best and the brightest for his Cabinet when the opportunity was given to him. This is a thoroughly laughable statement.
We all know that Aquino raided his very short list of close friends to fill up his original Cabinet. And then he held on to these largely nondescript, non-performing people—often defending them in public when they ran afoul of the law or the citizenry—until the bitter end.
But no amount of official embroidery was able to improve the short resumes of most members of the Aquino Cabinet, whose ranks were filled with the denizens of the so-called “KKK.” Their lack of preparation, rapacious cupidity and totally underwhelming performance overall, over six years, was often quickly exposed, anyway.
Because they will soon return to the anonymity from which they oozed up, I feel no need to mention their names here. Besides, there is simply no space in one column to name them all—unless they turn up soon in court, to face the charges that they richly deserve.
Now, if you accept that Duterte is also “doing a Noynoy” by appointing people he personally knows and trusts, you must also admit that the incoming president has had a much longer and infinitely more productive prior stint in government than Aquino when he assumed the presidency. Because Duterte has been mayor of the fourth-largest city of this country, for the most part of the last three decades, he has a much wider pool of talent to choose his Cabinet from. Remember that Aquino was basically a political nobody on his own before he took over in Malacañang, something that was clearly reflected in his choices for his official family—people from his small circle of Ateneo buddies, Congress smoking-break partners and various official minders and hangers-on from the Cory years who paid a little more attention to her underachieving, diffident son.
To be sure, some of Duterte’s choices are controversial and unusual, including some who are thoroughly unpalatable to me, personally. But I’m willing to give Duterte and his men a chance before judging them.
And yes, Duterte has every right to choose his own people for his Cabinet, even members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, as he has proposed. And if they mess up, I only hope that Duterte will not be like Noynoy and fire these people to save the citizenry from further suffering.
In the meantime, let the man choose his own people. The Yellows already lost, and badly, in a referendum on Aquino’s administration, in case they haven’t heard.
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Like I said, I don’t personally agree with all of the choices of Duterte for his Cabinet. But I wholeheartedly endorse, for whatever it’s worth, his plan to bring back Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro.
It’s about time Teodoro returned to serve his country, even if I am convinced that he has already done more than his share during the Arroyo years. Still, if Duterte somehow convinces Gibo to come back and serve in whatever capacity—it doesn’t have to be secretary of defense, something he’s already done—it will be a sign that the incoming president really has the people’s interest at heart.
Of course, I understand that Teodoro is enjoying his time as a private citizen and is even making a lot of money as a member of the board of Banco de Oro, among other lucrative pursuits. But the fact that he went to Davao City to meet Duterte, presumably upon the invitation of the incoming president, tells me that perhaps Gibo wants to stage a comeback.
Teodoro has since returned to Manila after saying he has not accepted any offer from Duterte until he discusses things with his family. I sincerely hope he accepts a Cabinet post and does so soon.
With the possible exception of Sonny Dominguez, who I’m told has already turned down Duterte’s offer to serve as finance secretary, I can think of no other person more qualified to serve in the new Cabinet than Teodoro. But then, I’ve always been a Gibo fan.