Scapegoats for good ratings
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2019 - 12:00am

Over the last three years a number of people have wondered why President Rodrigo Duterte fires people but often ends up recycling them. Others have wondered why some political appointees have been fired allegedly due to corruption but no details have been offered and no actual charges were ever filed. In the most recent case, the president of PhilHealth and all the members of the board were told to tender their courtesy resignation even though President Duterte reiterated his trust and confidence for the recently resigned PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer. In fact the entire scenario or zarzuela as some critics would call it, has been confusing because President Duterte invited the officials of PhilHealth to make a presentation in Malacañang, but in the same breath passed judgment on the group by asking for their courtesy resignation even before they got to Malacañang and before the President had chance to hear them out.

This has happened many times in the past where individuals are invited or ordered to take a position in government and within a year or less, the “appointee” is accused of corruption, is publicly humiliated by way of Presidential termination without so much as a formal investigation. What’s worse is that often as in the case of the PCSO, Customs and PhilHealth, the people who tried to introduce reforms and go after crooks in those organizations are the first one subjected to false accusations, character assassination and termination while the truly guilty individuals or “Mafia” stay on celebrating the defeat of the righteous or the reformists. It’s bizarre that the PhilHealth officials are gone after two weeks of bad publicity while 38 regional officials who have been charged or are under suspension for sins committed over a period of ten to 15 years can now take it easy on the job and carry on with their misconducts with no fear whatsoever, because the only group ever to take action against them are officially removed from the service!

Well I finally figured it out. The Duterte Administration has built up its high trust rating on its anti drug war and the image of being against corruption. In fact it is the anti corruption image that has kept the President’s trust ratings coasting along. It is all about the image and public impression and anything that could affect it or directly bring down the President’s trust rating is unacceptable. So all you have to do to take out a political appointee, a Cabinet member or some official doing the job right is to launch a demolition job on the government official or agency. Some do it because of internal conflict; others do it to protect their territory whether political or otherwise. The PCSO chairman fell from grace when Atong Ang and Sandra Cam who saw Alexander Balutan as a threat when he became chairman of the PCSO attacked him in the media. The former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña was reassigned to TESDA after he ran afoul with illegal operators inside the Bureau of Customs and bumped heads with the PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino. The PhilHealth officials found the tables turned against them after the Mafia and several aspiring individuals lusted after the PhilHealth presidency and Board membership. (Ironically, Lapeña and Ferrer are both recognized for increasing the earnings of their respective agencies during their brief stay).

In most cases, a very public presidential termination followed suit. It’s in keeping with the image of being Anti corruption regardless of the fact that justice, truth and fairness end up becoming road kill. No charges are filed because that would require evidence, witnesses and an actual investigation that will take time. That is not the priority of the Duterte administration. Right or wrong, the administration does not want even a whiff of or suggestion of corruption, even if the suggestion or accusation was manufactured by wrongdoers or wicked people coveting the power and position of duly appointed and qualified individuals. What matters is that the public sees the President acting swiftly and decisively. Adding insult to injury, the President actually tells the media that he still believes and trusts the victims of his swift justice as “consuelo de bobo.” Then when the dust settles, Malacañang comes out with the reassignment orders for the humble and obedient victims who were crucified in order to sustain the anti-corruption image.

This strategy or style of sacrificing loyal appointees may be great for the President’s image but it is now the biggest reason NOT to accept a high position in government, because it’s like offering yourself up to be a sacrificial lamb or scapegoat to maintain the anti-corruption image of the Duterte administration. Worst of all, it is a practice that feeds the impunity of the corrupt and the evil individuals in government. Why bother being an agent of change if it insures that you will be changed or removed from your position. Eventually word gets out, sentiments are expressed and support will erode for an administration that builds its reputation on the ruins of innocent peoples’ reputation. Do not build your castle upon dead men’s bones for their ghosts will surely haunt you.

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While Chief PNP Oscar Albayalde is busy facilitating the immediate surrender of guns belonging to Erwin Tulfo after berating the mistah of Albayalde, The good general might want to open his mind or perspective a little and act on our suggestion that they adopt the registration/ renewal procedures of the LTO in relation to licensed firearms.

Instead of the current system, the PNP would earn more and document more firearms if gun owners could simply renew their licenses just like we renew vehicle registration. If the license expires, the PNP can simply add a late registration penalty instead of automatically declaring the license revoked and the firearm loose or illegal. If they adapt online registration and payment, the PNP can free up or reduce the number of personnel stuck in a chair doing paper work while gun owners don’t become “criminals” simply because they have become forgetful.

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