OVER the past several days, the administration of President BS Aquino 3rd has issued a flurry of announcements, which seem intended to portray the government as being energetic and attentive to the needs of the nation in the final weeks of its term in office.
We find this apparently newfound enthusiasm of the administration quite alarming.
Among other things, Aquino himself is reportedly hurrying to appoint a number of judges to beat the “midnight appointment” deadline. In the economic arena, the new director of the Public-Private Partnership Center, Raj Palacios, has promised that 11 new projects will be awarded by the end of June, an objective he is evidently so committed to that it was worth having two news conferences on consecutive days to make the exact same announcement. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has also chimed in, promising to process the backlog of mining exploration permit applications – all 264 of them – before Aquino steps down.
Although the Office of the President or the leadership of the Liberal Party would certainly not admit it, it is quite clear that a key goal of all this activity is to try to boost the sagging appeal of designated successor Mar Roxas. While there is not really anything wrong with the President campaigning in a personal capacity on behalf of a party mate, to deploy the full weight of the executive branch to support a candidate is at the very least unethical, and perhaps not even very smart; because it is so obvious what the regime is doing, a significant number of voters are likely to react negatively to it rather than drawing the intended conclusion that the energetic work of the government will only continue if the favored candidate is elected.
An even bigger problem, however, is that nearly all of the initiatives the government is promising will be completed by the end of June are, besides being things that should have been addressed years ago, critical and rather complex issues that should not be hastily managed. Experts in the mining sector, for example, tell us that properly assessing an application for an exploration permit should take a couple of weeks; in order to clear the backlog as the MGB has promised, that means it will need to approve two or three per day in the 104 days left until June 30. That hardly encourages confidence that a thorough job will be done, and that could have unwanted consequences for communities and the companies involved.
Haste makes waste–and hazards.
The greatest irony is that President Aquino began his term by spending a couple of months destroying work done by his predecessor, for the precise reason that it was done, as he saw it, in a last-minute rush. Whether he likes it or not, time has essentially run out; he failed to use his years in office productively, and Aquino cannot hope to make up for that. Better to be mature, accept that failure, and spare the country any further harm by making decisions in a panicked hurry now.