Dealing With The Mess

It has not been a good time for the President.

Just when he thought he had the all clear to travel to the US in uninterrupted peace, there is this flap about the release of the hostage report.

Raising speculation as to what the President’s advisers have been smoking , the Administration decided to release the report to the Chinese Government before it is disclosed to the nation.

The original plan was to release the report first to the Chinese, then post it on the President’s Facebook page, then to the media and Congress; but this priority was scuttled when it was discovered that the President’s FB page is not updated with his current picture.

The President’s many spokesmen defended the Administration’s position. One said:” Being victims of the tragedy, the Chinese Government and the families of the deceased deserve  first crack at amending the report.”

Another said :” With the President leaving for the US, a delay in transmitting the report to Beijing would have meant Vice-President Binay would have had to be the one to submit the report. This would have handed the spotlight to him, detracting from the President’s address at the UN.”

Yet another said:” Why does any of this matter? The nation has waited long enough. What are a few days more? Filipinos are just too impatient. Sobra.”

The controversy about the hostage report follows a number of other Administration mishaps.

There is the accusation Undersecretary Puno of the DILG ( he is actually Secretary of the DILG minus the Local Government part) is linked to illegal gambling. Yes, this is the same person, an Agricultural Economics graduate from UP Los Banos and shooting buddy of Noy, who volunteered to take a bullet for the President over Puno’s mishandling of the hostage taking.

(The Lima Report apparently has recommended that Puno be charged for the bungling. The President has commissioned a legal review of the Lima findings. One would have thought this is redundant considering Lima is our Secretary of Justice and chief legal officer. Hopefully the Malacanang findings will not then be remanded to the DOJ for a review on the review of the report. Wake us up when it is over).

The retired PNP chief and the incoming PNP chief are reportedly also involved with jueteng. It seems being associated with illegal gambling is a prerequisite for high office.

There are complaints 4300 Government positions have still to be filled, paralyzing Government.

Hundreds of soon to be overstaying political appointees at the DFA and elsewhere are in limbo as to their status.

The people are wondering whatever happened to all those indiscretions ballyhooed at the SONA. Has anybody been brought to task?

To top it all Shalani keeps calling, wondering whether she is still on.

Just no respite for our young President.  And it is not going to get better.

So far President Noy seems unperturbed by it all. Do not worry, he is told, the people still love you. Your approval ratings are still up.

Which is fine if it is just all about the ratings and not about actually moving the nation forward with a minimum of missteps. Ratings will not create jobs, reduce our national debt or  improve our health and education standards.

The onus for keeping the ship of state on an even keel is partly with the President under the principle of command responsibility but largely with his advisers particularly those who have his ear close in. Chief among the latter is his Executive Secretary. Ochoa came in saying his only mission in life is to protect the President’s back. Well, he is not doing particularly well at it.

The Administration has no task master who cracks the whip, who shows the President where are the landmines. The President cannot be expected to recognize all the pitfalls, he is too buffeted  by the elements to always know where the right road lies. To guide him is the role of the Exec. Secretary. Unfortunately, the latter is seriously out of his depth, punch drunk or, some say, simply drunk.

One of the most valuable pieces of advise that President Obama  has said to have received is not to appoint your friends to office. President Noy might take heed of this counsel when pondering what next.

In the meantime, Mr. President, deal with the one matter that is most easily resolved. Pick up the phone when Shalani next calls.

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About Leo Alejandrino

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