Change with uneasy results

Ma. Isabel Ongpin

Ma. Isabel Ongpin

THERE is a definite feeling of unease among people observing current events in this country. The unabated killings of supposed drug addicts and pushers, mostly poor, are not being taken seriously enough by the administration to warrant a police task force to hunt down the killers and end the gross violations of human rights. Note that while the administration claims that we are on the verge of being a narco-state which would mean that a major segment of society is involved, from politicians to police personnel, business entities, the youth and gangsters, etc., the target of the fight against drugs has been one class of society only and mostly consists of terminating their lives.

How serious or effective is this war on drugs? It has already been said and proven that drug addiction is a mindset that has to be changed by psychological help, social reinforcement, rehabilitation and most of all, prevention. Killing drug addicts and sellers is just a numbers game that will have no impact on the numbers of addicts. They will just be replaced by more if the conditions for drug addiction are not addressed. Meanwhile, the culture of impunity blooms and demoralizes our society.

The image of the police is taking a beating. They have been involved in the extrajudicial killings–new graduates from the police academy as in the Oriental Mindoro case, veterans in the force as in the Pasay City father and son case, and high-ranking officers as in the rubout of Mayor Espinosa. These are just some salient examples. There are many more known incidents of this kind than the police or administration acknowledge or worry about.

We may be a country of 110 million but in our minds we are still a small country with extensive family relations and people knowing each other, if not personally, by identity or through others. These drug killings are nearing home, family, neighbors, friends. Slowly now, but accelerating eventually, a climate of fear and resentment is building up. These events will be seen in time as unjustifiable state actions that will stir up the population against those responsible. It might not be tomorrow as the alarmed would wish but it will happen.

Another source of unease is the turmoil in government offices as new appointees seemingly chosen only from Davao and San Beda College of Law scramble for the spoils of election victory. Yes, a very unseemly spectacle is ongoing at Subic where the head will not accept the administrator. There are debates going on with no authority putting things in order. Who is in charge and is absent? Why has the situation been left as it is for months to the detriment of government service? Is there a government in control or is it out to lunch?

Another is the dis-invitation in an uncivil and unmannerly way to certain Cabinet members in the matter of attendance at Cabinet meetings. There should be a more polite way of doing such a maneuver, like clustering essential personnel for the meetings or reducing the huge Cabinet plantilla, without specifically citing individuals. In other words, providing a polite and dignified exit for whoever is not needed or not wanted.

In the tone and manner adopted by the staff in Malacañang, their bad manners have encouraged malcontents and opportunists in the government offices whose heads have been demeaned, to find an excuse to push their own ambitions and undermine their superiors with their own bad manners. Witness the Commission on Higher Education Executive Director not only going publicly against the Chair but even having the effrontery to name who should replace her. Indeed, bad manners and overweening ambition at play precipitated by inept, if not inexcusable, administrative moves by the presidential staff become contagious. More than one event of the kind takes place, no one stops the mess enough to suggest disarray, if not malice.

It becomes a cause for worry and unease when there is a climate of discourtesy and insensitivity allowed to imbue government actions. Government begins to appear authoritarian rather than in the service of the public. It will bring on itself distance and suspicion. Perception in these circumstances becomes reality.

And what do the two newly appointed Commissioners of Immigration (from the San Beda College of Law) think they are doing claiming they are showing proof of corruption by others when it is they who were caught in a corrupt act? How come they accepted and even lugged by themselves the bags of money without notifying whoever could officially entrap the corrupt act of others as they claim? Well, not even an addled drug addict or someone born yesterday would fall for their outlandish tale. Whoever made the mistake of appointing them should fire them and indict them and apologize for bringing such dregs into government.

The above serious mistakes are lamentable and damaging for the present administration. It must rectify them quickly or risk a backlash.

Can the President’s political capital absorb all of the above without a dent? Political capital is ephemeral, here today in all its glory but melting away day by day as the passage of time and untoward events pile up

There is change indeed but not for the better.


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  1. The government is trying to eradicate the drug menace and corruption that exploded under the yellow regime that you are siding with. If the yellows are willing to risk a civil war in their effort to defend these drug traffickers and the other corrupt yellow hypocrites still embedded in the government then they will get it, get it?

  2. “Another source of unease is the turmoil in government offices as new appointees seemingly chosen only from Davao and San Beda College of Law scramble for the spoils of election victory. ”

    what is your problem with that Ms. Ma Isabel. all through out his life he was never a national figure thus expectedlly his afficionados is only limited to where is his territory. and besides they have a the qualification actually more than qualification for they are experience public servant and all of them are excellent in their academics. hindi nman sya naglagay ng basurerong Cabinet member na galing sa davao…mas matatalino at experiensado sayo ang mga yun ng trillion times….

  3. Vagoneto Rieles on

    Of the 55 million voters who went to the polls last May, 16 million were so disgruntled and annoyed with the system that they went for a little known quantity named Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Now, it is not just the 16 million desperate voters who are stuck with this choice…nor just the balance of 39 million who voted against him… but the entire 104 million of the Filipino race. What’s more…it isn’t just Rodrigo Roa Duterte that they are stuck with, but the whole cabinet and under-cabinet roster as well…not to mention the police and military hierarchy…all of whom were appointed by Mr. Duterte.
    Except for his state visits to foreign lands, President Duterte seems to be bogged-down in just fighting the menace of illegal drugs, and little else aside. And, at that, only a handful (half-a-dozen or so) big-time drug suppliers have been ‘neutralized’ while close to 6,000 shoe-less users and street level pushers have been committed to the ‘after life’. What’s more, is that in the centralized style of Mr. Duterte, the presidency has become a ‘zero-sum game’ in the sense that the time he spends on just one chore is time he can no longer allot for other chores. All subalterns around him seem to hang on to his latest word, and just wait for the next.
    As for the cabinet; the Secretary of Justice is evidently ‘lost-at-sea’. The much targeted, derided and debased Senator Delima…now abroad… is being lauded in the foreign press; while he and three of the Bureau of Immigrations’ executives, (‘Bedans all), are now the focus of a big bribery scandal. It might occur to some observers that the Secretary is actually so shallow that he has reached his ‘level of incompetence’ much too early. The PNP for their part have just shown the real state of affairs with ‘policing’ in the country. In a spontaneous, if cathartic episode, PNP Chief dela Rosa was reduced to tears while being saluted and extolled by Senator Zubiri for being the only hope for honesty and rectitude in the PNP. It was actually a sad, if telling event. Unmistakably, this could only be a tacit admission of the truth.
    It’s just been six months. Mr. Duterte can still turn things around and prove that the 16 million ‘pro-votes’ were not misguided. And, it isn’t that the balance of 39 million must be proven wrong either. He’s got to do it, because a country of 104 million demands it.