Sometimes it’s really not Malacañang
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

When a branch of the PNP decided to file charges of sedition against most of the opposition particularly Vice President Leni Robredo the automatic response of those accused was that Malacañang or President Duterte had a direct hand in the matter. That sort of reaction is evidently “instinct” and expected, but it certainly deserves a second thought. The fact of the matter is that under the Duterte administration there is no shortage of brown nosers or suck ups who would go out of their way just to please the President or to improve their placement or proximity to the President. The biggest herd of course are lawyers who go out of their way to attack, defend and then position themselves in government. The President does not need to orchestrate any attacks on his critics; there are more than enough wicked people who will take the initiative even without the President’s orders.

But in the case of the sedition charges, it is not a mere case of some people in the PNP officialdom merely trying to score points with the President. It could be possible that the filing of charges is just one of the many PR stunts of the PNP like the Bikoy Press Conference, The Red Tagging of candidates during the election and the likes, all intended to get the President’s attention and admiration of certain retire-able officials of the PNP who are hoping to get a cabinet position or at the very least be appointed as Commissioner or Undersecretary in one of the many departments that will be vacant or will opening up by 2020. In case you’re wondering why the PNP has to exert more effort in the area of PR and publicity, a retired general told me that “it is evident that President Duterte clearly favors retirees from the AFP particularly the Army and almost always forgets the boys from the PNP.” My source further elaborated that the Army guys simply obey orders while the PNP generals are often too smart for their own good. In addition to this, the PNP has a history of senior officers turning to PR tactics whenever the position of PNP Chief is about to become vacant. In the past a couple of the candidates or front-runners hired PR practitioners to increase their media visibility!

So at the risk of being called an apologist, I believe that the sedition charges against Vice President Robredo et al is nothing more than the PNP trying to show the President that the blue boys in Crame are also doing their share of attacking the President’s attackers. The PNP officials will surely not agree with this view, but on the other hand, my analysis is more realistic, practical and human than saying that the sedition charges are ludicrous, unfounded and politically motivated which they are. Worst of all, the move of the CIDG and the PNP has placed the President in a very bad light and given his critics even more ammo to make him look bad. Now that to me is seriously a very bad PR move!

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I’m curious to find out what if any, will the President have to say about the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in terms of real achievements and performance? While the PNP is under the DILG, we should make a distinction between the hard work of the PNP in the drug war and this should not be credited to the DILG and its boss Secretary Eduardo Año. So what has the DILG achieved? Secretary Año issued a memorandum banning tricycles in major roads and highways. He reiterated this order several times in media, but did anybody pay attention? Nope. Did the DILG send in the HPG or PNP to arrest the erring tricycle drivers? Nope.

For two years running, officials of the two Telcos in the Philippines have been complaining of the extortion they face when trying to put up towers and cell sites. LGUs impose a “Special Use Permit” with a special backdoor price between 150,000 to 300,000 per tower. In spite of this being public knowledge, the DILG failed to go after corrupt local officials. As a result the DICT or Department of Information and Communication Technology has now stepped in to directly facilitate securing local permits for new towers. Imagine, one department has to do the job of another department in order to stop the corruption and extortion in LGUs.

For the longest time, Local Government Units have been charging “Pass through” fees by way of annual or quarterly stickers in order for any van or truck to “pass through” their towns or cities. The original charge was P500 but I found out last week that the charge has now gone up to as much as one thousand pesos! On the average a van or truck has to get at least 3 to 4 stickers or an annual cost of P4,000 in order to operate between the pier in Manila all the way to the pier in Batangas City! If you multiply this with at least a million closed vans and trucks of all sizes that would be P4 million that is largely “legal extortion” that adds on to the cost of moving products from manufacturer to buyer. This is just one reason why Logistics in the Philippines is at a high of 27 percent of the cost of any product we buy or sell! Once again, the DILG is sleeping on this issue that has been raised year after year. 

Incidentally, a number of controversial mayors and local politicians are back in “business” which leads many to believe that the people in the DILG are not aligned with President Duterte’s marching orders to fight corruption and to insure the ease of doing business with government. A radio commentator from one of the top networks recently called the DILG Secretary; Secretary Ano instead of Año. The question was “Ano ang nagawa mo” or what have you managed to accomplish regarding these festering problems?

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