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Presidential hits and misses

by Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

President Rody has a flair for drama which he uses to clearly drive his point.

Instead of just confiscating smuggled luxury cars and auctioning them, as he is allowed by law, he orders them destroyed. And in a dramatic fashion. On two recent occasions, we witnessed on television how multi-million peso cars were flattened and reduced to scrap by graders – to the horror of high end car aficionados.

In his much-touted fight against corruption in government, the President fired persons supposedly very close to him. Not content, he even followed this up with a shame campaign against his former political supporters. Nowadays, he even asks Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque to pre-announce the forthcoming firings.

The message to corrupt officials would have been loud and clear.

Unfortunately, President Rody also has his share of misses which tend to negate his gains.

In his bid to get closer to his new friend – China – he is opening the way for six Chinese firms to corner the bulk (around R17B) of rehabilitation projects for Marawi. On the surface, nothing wrong with that especially if these Chinese companies can offer the best terms. After all, the offer of the Chinese will be subjected to “Swiss Challenge”.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, two of the companies have previously been blacklisted by the World Bank for alleged corrupt dealings involving Philippine projects. In an earlier clarification, the palace said that President Duterte was not aware of the blacklisting. Subsequently, the inclusion of the two companies was justified for the reason that the blacklisting, for 6 years and 5 years of the two companies, had already lapsed.

So what has happened to his “Ayaw ko sa corruption!” pronouncement?

Again, appointees who turned out to be incompetent (if not downright corrupt) were simply re-cycled. They were pulled out from their previous posting and kicked sideways to other jobs with high-sounding titles.

And just recently, he promoted to the next higher rank a Philippine Coast Guard officer who had been suspended over funds misuse allegations.

All of a sudden, the signals coming from the palace have become mixed up.

Marawi – a year hence

Seven months after the cessation of hostilities in Marawi, the rehabilitation of Marawiis moving ever slowly.

Nonetheless, considering the tedious process entailed preparing the rehab plan – much of which was taken up by multi-sectoral consultation on the best development mix – the palace has expressed satisfaction of what has been accomplished so far.

902 priority projects have been identified and are being readied for implementation. Adequate funding – estimated in excess of R70 billion over the next three years – is being budgeted.

Unsatisfied, critics have described the proposed rehabilitation of Marawi as “a patchwork of sketchy plans”. The plans do not address many problems – not the least of which is the age old question of unresolved property rights among the Muslim population. This thorny issue has been tagged as one of the root causes of conflict in Mindanao.

The government is working on it, assures Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jess Dureza. Dureza concedes, however, that as of now there is no magic formula which answers all these questions.

At last – a national ID

After several Presidents, we will soon have a national ID system. It is about time. We are one of 9 remaining countries in the world which, to date, have not adopted one.

The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Not only will a national ID facilitate public and private transactions. It will also help enhance national and community security.

Of course, a noisy militant minority will continue the protest the system not just for being invasive of privacy but for being reminiscent of the cedula – considered as a sign of subservience to our former colonial masters.

Come one, guys. This is already 2018. Let us just move on. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of.
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