• Focus



    FOCUS is not the strength of this administration. Often, since it appears there is no party in government, it shoots itself unnecessarily. Take the latest congressional offensives on defunding CHR, ERC and NCIP when there are bureaucratic issues against the heads of these agencies and cases can be filed or plainly fire the heads for misfeasance or malfeasance. By defunding, it weakens the institutions and creates paralysis in its operation.

    A party in government is vital for it consists of all of the elected and appointed officials who identify with a party. It is presumed the party in government is PDP-Laban since it was the party identified in the certificate of candidacy of candidate Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. But some quarters are in a quandary because in several executive-legislative “crisis”, there is no party in government.

    PRRD would say I do not have any control with what Congress is doing and the legislature seems to be making its own play based on what they think the PRRD desires. The problem is everyone is interpreting the President and are often erroneous because the President will just counter, “it was just a joke.” And this leads to more complications in terms of policy formulation, adoption and implementation. Take the case of the BBL draft where it was a priority, only to be left out in the second SONA and the second LEDAC and when submitted to Congress, the draft remains to be under study by the leadership of both chambers of the 17th Congress. PRRD was quoted as saying that he will personally “husband the measure.”

    Another proof that the executive-legislative collaborations are not in sync were the rejection of the confirmation of Gina Lopez, Judy Taguiwalo and Paeng Mariano. PRRD insisted that he cannot influence the process and in these instances, the contingent from the House appears to have voted as a bloc. When the official family is left on their own to fight it out in a government supposedly with “super majority,” you wonder if the “super” in the “majority” is just a propaganda.

    Then the PNP under PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, after more than a year in office, is still not gaining much headway in reengineering the PNP as a professional institution. Imagine the war against illegal drugs with a professional police? The war would have gone far and could have accomplished much but then again, it’s the President who weathers it and gets blamed for it, domestically and internationally.

    The problem with all these is that any misstep is drilled into the international media, blaming PRRD. Take the case of the wrong framing that PRRD would declare martial law nationwide. Before it could be corrected, it was already primed at the international level. And that is the biggest problem of this administration, it fails to control the news arc. And PRRD is also to blame because he does not vet what he says, keeps on talking out of context on occasions where he is to deliver a speech and makes presidential rant as part and parcel of the proverbial bully pulpit. “Communications is central to governing, and if a president does not fold communications into the policy process and does not have a multi-faceted communications operation, he risks failure of his political, electoral, and policy goals. Whether it is promoting a presidential initiative or campaigning for a cause or a program, a president must make communications a part of everything he and his staff do because persuasion is so central to presidential accomplishments.”

    Focus becomes the tool to battle any perception war and if you are out of it, you spend so much resources putting out fires. There are so many things to do. Implementation of #BuildBuildBuild. Fulfilling the 10-point agenda is another. Pursuing a cohesive, reform politics to get inclusive growth in place is a third. So many things to do but we keep shooting ourselves because of the nature of our politics.

    The most recent data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report show that “the Philippines rated considerably lower than Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and only slightly ahead of Vietnam. The drop from 47 in 2015 to 57 in 2016 WEF competitiveness rankings underlines the need to both sustain improvements and increase efforts to move ahead of the competition.” WEF cited “16 problematic areas: bureaucracy (18.6 percent), inadequate supply of infrastructure (17.8 percent), corruption (16.9 percent), tax rates (10.8 percent), tax regulations (8.3 percent), policy instability (7 percent) and restrictive labor regulations (5.6 percent).

    Areas of little or no progress identified by Arangkada are broadband speed, construction sector growth rate, cost of electricity (industrial), enforcing contracts, manufacturing sector growth rate, number of paid non-working holidays, major telco providers (with cable landing stations), overall infrastructure ranking, protecting investors ranking, starting business ranking, total exports of goods, trading across borders and value of mineral exports.

    Political parties have not framed opposition to the Duterte administration in terms of clear, proactive programs. No clear alternatives offered, only opposition. More and more the bipartisan work for country is replaced by partisanship and cheap shots. Unseating the duly elected is now the target, taking the playbook against Marcos as the plan to grab power against Duterte.

    “Leaders create influence with the clays of criticism others throw at them. They don’t take offense; they take corrections.” Pivot now and maintain focus.


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