Advice from real friends

I HAVE said in my previous columns that there were many hits and misses during the first 100 days of President Roa Duterte’s administration.

Yes, there were hits. As expected, the President hit the ground running as he battled crime, corruption and illegal drugs immediately. His efforts resonated with the people who had been longing for a leader with resolve. This was in contrast to six years of the Aquino administration characterized by incompetence, insensitivity and hypocrisy.

As a result, Mr. Duterte enjoys excellent trust and satisfaction ratings.

I want to believe that despite the cursing, the President can still change between now and the end of his term. He can become the leader we all want him to be.

But there were misses, too, especially in foreign policy. For example, in the pursuit of an “independent foreign policy,” he wants to pivot to China and Russia at the expense of our ties with the United States. This simply does not make sense especially now when we all live in a global community.

The assessment of former President Fidel Ramos was most telling. Ramos said in his column in another broadsheet:

Ramos added: “Although removing the drug menace is one of the [country’s biggest problems] it is not the whole thing...I am sorry to say this, President Duterte, my President, our President. This is 20th  century thinking. We are now in the 21stcentury.”

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio also weighed in on Mr. Duterte’s pronouncement on ending joint US Joint Patrols in the South China Sea.

Carpio urged the President to understand the importance of holding patrols within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone.

The President must learn to heed advice from friends. Who else would tell you about your shortcomings but your friends?

On Oct. 7, President Duterte revealed that the National Democratic Front, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, had insisted on the withdrawal of US troops and cancellation of the joint military exercises as a condition for peace.

Santa Banana, would the President rather believe the communists than a former president and a Justice, who are after the good of 101 million Filipinos?

I’m all for peace with rebels, separatists and secessionists—but not at all costs!

* * *

What bitter irony than even a government agency as innocuous as the Climate Change Commission is not spared from politics, intrigues, and back-stabbing.

I have been told that things are messy in the government body tasked with protecting Mother Earth. I would have thought it would be run by a group of sociable pacifists, but the exact opposite is taking place.

As in every other organization, trouble traces its roots to fierce rivalry among the commissioners and heads of divisions. The situation has actually reached a point where instead of doing their jobs, personnel are drawing battle lines, keeping secrets, and dedicating all their time to formulating smear campaigns against one another.

In the meantime, highly important matters such as the People’s Survival Fund remain on the backburner.

Insiders tell me that the level of infighting has reached a point where Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman and his chief of staff Alfred Anviado have actually hired several—yes, several—bodyguards to project an air of intimidation and possibly scare off their detractors.

Is it true that both continue to namedrop Senator Loren Legarda, Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco as their protectors in order to let everyone know that they are supposedly backed by the big guns?

On the other side of the fence, there is Commissioner Venice Victorio and Commission Legal Chief Railla Puno, who are said to be openly critical of the current administration.

The reason? Trips.

Instead of doing their jobs, the people at Climate Change Commission are fighting over things like airfare accommodations, who get sent to the US and who gets sent to Vancouver and who flies in business class or economy. In fact, according to insiders the current battleground right now is the upcoming climate change talks in Marrakesh. Commissioners and division chiefs are squabbling over travel details.

Meanwhile, at the Bureau of Customs, things are moving from bad to worse. Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon recruited no less than 40 of his former coup plotters from the Magdalo Group to help him clean the graft-ridden bureau.

But insiders tells me that the Faeldon recruits are totally clueless about what is going on at the bureau.

That’s what the President gets for appointing somebody ignorant of how Customs runs.

I recall what happened during the incumbency of the late President Ramon Magsaysay. He recruited 400 cadets from the Philippine Military Academy to man sensitive Customs position in an effort to rid the bureau of corruption.

After a month or so, the 400 PMA cadets also became corrupt.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Advice from real friends
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