Sick and tired!

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

“Fatigue is the price of Leadership. Mediocrity is the price of never getting tired.” – J. Oswald Sanders

During one particularly heavy and frustrating school week, my daughter who’s in grade 11, simply had a melt down. The IB program she is enrolled in is quite a challenge and from time to time the amount of work and tests simply pile up. Just like in the real world.

But as I write this article it occurs to me that at home, parents usually see the warning signs of burn out, fatigue, or lack of rest. We step in and tell our children: “Enough.” We tuck them in, give them a cup of hot chocolate or ice tea, reassure them that no matter what, all these shall come to pass and it won’t be the basis by which we love them or recognize them. It is just part of the process.

But in the grown up world, who plays “the parent”? Who says enough and tells the executive, the government official, the staff member: “Enough”? In most cases we won’t even recognize it ourselves and won’t do something about the downward spiral of our bodies, nerves, minds and soul until we get so tired and dizzy we can’t function anymore. We just keep pushing and pushing, going from one goal to the next.

That I believe is the state of our current government. The Duterte administration, particularly the members of Cabinet who may have reached a point where physical and mental fatigue is slowly eating up the pace of political will. While media and the public treat problems of the Duterte administration as single and separate events, I suspect that if you stitch them all together, there is a case to claim that the President’s Team are experiencing Battle Fatigue.

Some people dismissed Secretary Aguirre as “Palpak” or lousy, then critics called Secretary Cayetano as “Ignorant” or Inexperienced,” Secretary Wanda Teo is accused of “ Lacking leadership.” Word leaked out that Secretary Bello and Secretary Cayetano were “fighting,” I was told that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque castigated his former clients in Boracay and recently was also critical of labor organizations although as spokesman one has to limit oneself to the “official line.” Usec. Mocha Uson has sustained her stance and style but effectively compromising goodwill for political agenda. Secretary Martin Andanar has suspiciously been outside the radar while Solicitor General Joe Calida now finds himself the target of fiery darts.

Last Wednesday, I saw DTI Secretary Mon Lopez who could barely talk and record a message for an event because he was already manifesting flu-like symptoms if not the beginnings of pneumonia. Having worked with Secretary Lopez in our Go Negosyo days, I had to tell him that he did not look healthy, gained too much weight and was seriously concerned for him. 

The keyword is: FATIGUE, and when fatigue sets in, clinical experts tell us that people tend to have impaired judgment, their output or decision making abilities slow down, irritability results in conflict or combative attitudes and finally they just end up getting sick. All that happens to regular young executives running companies on standard schedules like 8 a.m. to maybe 9 p.m.

But what about our Cabinet members and their teams, half of whom (if not more) are senior citizens, a number of whom are on maintenance medicines, dealing with hypertension, arthritis or diabetes. Their work hours are toxic, often on a 24-hour clock and their boss runs a schedule office that is better suited for young kids working the graveyard shift at a call center.  Many of our Cabinet members rack up more miles than any Grab or taxi driver, and they barely have enough time or opportunity to exercise or be disciplined with their food intake. It is common knowledge that many of them are also running around with guilt knowing they barely spend time with loved ones particularly their spouse or apos.

The worst of it all is the “STRESS” dealing with national issues and concerns while making sure you don’t end up in Congress or in court for wrong decisions or political moves.

I sincerely pray that President Duterte and his team get to read this column or perhaps some people in Malacañang can pass it on to the Executive Secretary in order to address this serious concern. Anyone who runs an organization, program or equipment knows that after an initial run or operation, it is a good management and leadership practice to “run an assessment or evaluation” in order to align, tune, or calibrate the team, program or equipment.

Whether Malacañang or the President decides to do a “Performance and Fitness assessment” or conduct a “Retreat and Re-calibrate” conference, I sincerely believe that they have to do something and they have to do it soon or things will begin to tear at the seams and split them apart.

Popularity surveys are meaningless to leaders whose priority are productivity, sustainability, and cooperation. But if popularity surveys indicate anything, the administration really needs to figure things out and just like the Marvel Superheroes – Regroup.

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Imagine yourself as a public school teacher or official eligible for promotion. You’ve gathered all the requirements, went into substantial expense travelling to Manila to get clearances from the Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan and the NBI, you’ve submitted everything to Malacañang and then you find out that there will be an additional 45 to 60 days delay to process your application because of the election ban.

From what I understand, the election ban is to prevent acts of graft and corruption during the campaign and election period. So why should submissions and applications be delayed or covered by the election ban if they were done months before? Barangay elections have no direct connection to the formal promotion of school officials who have been in an acting capacity for years! Congress and Malacañang should fix this blatant form of political red tape that causes undue delays to our civil servants!

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