Duterte’s promise of change

"It does not look like change is going to happen."



President Rodrigo Duterte campaigned during the 2016 presidential elections promising that he would end the drug menace in three to six months. He also promised to eradicate corruption and criminality.

No less than 16.6 million people believed him, and voted him as the most powerful man in the country.

President Duterte is now on his third year of administration, and where are we?

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said it is ironic that while prices of basic commodities are surging, the price of drugs is going down. This only means the shipment keeps coming.

The reason for the continued entry of shabu in the country, primarily through the Bureau of Customs, is that our borders are porous.

There is also the fact that President Duterte goes against the drug addicts and pushers instead of the narco-politicians and other outlets enabling the presence of drugs on the streets.

The President has acknowledged the presence of some 3-4 million drug users nationwide. Does he intend to slaughter them all to end the menace?

It simply boils down to the law of supply and demand. End the demand by making distribution impossible and rehabilitating users. But I guess the President is not listening. He seems to intend to kill the users down to the last man. Sad to say, in the meantime, that the victims of his war on drugs come from the poor.

The President forgets that the illegal drug menace is not a law and order problem, but a health issue. This is something that will continue to hound the nation even after his six-year term.

And then, the war on corruption is an impossible task. It is embedded in government.

Last week, there was a survey on which government agencies are most notorious for corruption. The usual suspects emerged: Department of Public Works and Highways, the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The President actually initially made a dent on corruption by firing his allies and friends accused of irregularity in office. But then he started reassigning them to other agencies. This practice made a mockery of his war on corruption.

Why did the DPWH top the list? Many of the contracts entered into by this agency are the product of graft and corruption. The projects remain unfinished. According to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, most contractors are unqualified.

Customs is something else. Some P6.8 billion worth of shabu was smuggled through the Metro Manila ports. Recall also that P6.4-billion shipment from China. While the culprits have been identified, they still have to be convicted and sent to jail.

I wonder how Customs people do it.

Corruption in government persist for many reasons. People enter government to get rich. Sometimes they are initially clean but soon become part of the system.

If somebody is not corrupt, he or she becomes the victim. There was once an agency chief who discovered that his subordinates were getting bribes from some government-owned and -controlled corporations. Soon, this chief was sacked because his corrupt subordinates had gone to the President and told him about an opinion of the chief—this did not sit well with the President.

Santa Banana, I have covered 10 presidents and I have seen all of them make the effort to end corruption. They failed.

I think President Duterte is trying to deliver on his election promises, but it seems his best is not good enough.

* * *

The elections of 2019 are becoming interesting, especially the Senate race. At least three Cabinet members are joining—Bong Go, Harry Roque, and presidential assistant for political affairs Francis Tolentino.

Indeed the Senate race is very tight, with so many reelectionists and returning politicians.

* * *

My wife and I still consider ourselves residents of Makati City and we believe in the performance of Mayor Abby Binay.

She has made Makati City drug-free and crime-free. Her legacy may just be the construction of a subway for the city of Makati.

Mayor Abby is certainly a cut above the rest.

Topics: President Rodrigo , Abby Binay , Bureau of Customs , Department of Public Works , Bureau of Internal Revenue
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