Once Again, This Time All Together

The Malacanang Communications Group is finally giving the President a break.

For the first few months the Group apparently demanded the President personally answer all texts and accept all invitations of people wanting to friend him in Facebook. Now the Group is easing up on him.

“Messages that ask that I add the sender as a friend in Facebook are no longer brought to my attention,” said the President to the Inquirer, clearly relieved.

Right on, Mr. President. Get your life back.

Globe and Smart (he uses both since they contributed equally to his campaign) report that the President has personally replied to thousands of texts. Fortunately he is on their unlimited texting promo so his phone bill is within the quota allocated to him by Budget Secretary  Abad: “The President’s bill is not an issue for this year’s budget.”

The President is so preoccupied with not falling behind the messaging schedule, that he was seen busily texting on his Blackberry even as BIR Commissioner Henares was delivering a speech at a conference. Efforts by the DOF Secretary to listen up by elbowing his ribs; failed to deter him.

His communications people are ostensibly not the only ones pulling the President every which way. Recommendations for key Government posts are bounced around competing camps. One appointee, already confirmed by a Presidential call, was allegedly  pulled at the last minute at the instance of a detractor.

It is no wonder the President is having a hard time filling 3000 vacant positions.For every one recommendation there is a host of dissenters.

Perhaps it is time the President review the basis on which he makes his people decisions, the quality of the advise he receives from his handlers and, while he is at it, the quality of his advisers themselves. What started off as some solid choices has recently deteriorated to some clearly questionable ones. It could be the law of diminishing returns.

The fact that the President enjoys such high approval ratings has not helped him. It is hard to be discerning when the public is enamored with you.

Yes, the President’s team looks a little disjointed. There seems to be no unified theme, no central command, no task master. Everybody is into his own thing.

The Luneta hostage taking highlighted the split in the ranks. The Malacanang Communications Group was divided on its communiques. Despite earlier information to the contrary, DILG Sec. Robredo was reportedly not accountable for the rescue effort, his subaltern USec. Puno was. In fact the latter is really not his subordinate being overall responsible for the I part of DILG, Robredo with the LG part. All so confusing.

Maybe the thinking is there is no need for a grand scheme in Government. The individual efforts of the department heads, however disjointed, should, it is prayed, ultimately converge to some central station. This is a jazz ensemble where players are free to roam, where harmony will in due course emerge, not a disciplined philarmonic with a single conductor.

Maybe, but even in a jazz ensemble there is a common strand, a baseline, to which everybody eventually returns.

Right now, with all the forces and counter forces at work in the Palace, it looks like the players either are not aware of the unifying theme or if they are, they are disregarding it.

The insiders are content with the disarray for they thrive best in it.

Others see the breakdown in the structure, the free for all in the ranks. But nobody wants to be the bearer of the tidings for fear the messenger will get shot. Already, we notice the President’s irritation when presented with an opposing point of view. He probably thinks there is too much crying wolf .

It may also be that, with all the buffeting, he is uncentered and that is how it is expressed.

As onlookers we must decide whether to put up or shut up. I say we continue, responsibly, to point out the flaws in the Administration even at the risk of rejection for this is what  citizens do. However we must ourselves be mindful of the quality of our inputs, otherwise we just add to the confusion.

The President is a good man, let us not forget it. That goodness is why we voted for him, that goodness is why we must stick with him.

It is just that it is, at times, so frustrating.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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