• Instead of brash talk and denials, why not serious policy-making?



    First read
    With his flamboyant flair for drama, President Rodrigo Duterte caused hearts to flutter on Monday when he declared that he is about to cross a “point of no return” in the Philippines’ long relationship with the United States.

    It was his way of explaining a cryptic remark he made to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the sidelines of the Asean summit in Vientiane earlier this month. He had told the Russian: “I’m about to cross the Rubicon between me and the United States. I would need your help and everything: trade, commerce and I will open up.”

    Poor Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. had to rush to the breach to prevent a fire. He tamped it down with his usual double talk: “I do not think personally that he meant it in the context of veering away from our commitments to the United States. Maybe he was again saying that to dramatize the areas that need further strengthening in our relationship with the US.”

    Duterte himself walked back his remarks by saying he is not ready to “really break ties with the US,” but he “will open alliances with China and Russia.”

    The President has made a habit of dispensing shoot-now-and-explain later statements, that journalists covering him routinely anticipate a denial or clarification to follow every time the President fires one of his brash statements.

    Duterte litany of tough talk
    Associated Press, the world’s largest news agency, has come up with a feature cataloging DU30’s tough talk, along with the multiple denials and clarifications executed by members of his Cabinet and staff.

    Topping the list naturally is DU30’s cursing of President Barack Obama as “a son of a whore,” which remark impelled the US President to cancel bilateral talks with Duterte in Laos.

    The latest additions to the list, including the remark to Medvedev, are equally noteworthy, and they suggest that this presidential proclivity is not likely to disappear soon.

    In a major about-face, President Duterte on Tuesday apologized for the inclusion of some political personalities in his controversial drug matrix, which purported to list officials involved in the illegal drug trade.

    He said former Pangasinan governor and now Rep. Amado Espino, dismissed Pangasinan provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, and Pangasinan board member Raul Sison should not have been included in the matrix.

    “I think somehow we were negligent in counter-checking the first report,” he sheepishly admitted.

    When economic analysts and businessmen averred that Duterte’s mouth was affecting the economy and investor sentiment, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno took charge of damage control. He tried to explain that the plunge of the peso to a seven-year low vis-à-vis the dollar is not caused by the President’s statements.

    Statement of national purpose and interest
    It strikes me that all this talk-and-deny spectacle could be completely avoided if the Duterte administration – the President together with his Cabinet and staff – devote more time to serious policy-making instead of generating insults and putdowns

    Since the President’s pet issues reflect his policy preferences, there would be less misunderstanding if the issues are fully analyzed and developed first, before DU30 sends them flying.

    Take the would-be tack of independence in foreign policy, with the idea of shedding Philippine dependence on American power and largesse. Instead of treating it as the subject of incessant bragging and posturing, why not hammer it down to an explicit statement of national purpose and interest in foreign relations, as broadly set by the Constitution?

    Or take the assertion by President Duterte of Philippine sovereignty in the conduct of the drug war and the protection of human rights. There is a cogent and constitutional basis for such a policy. There is no warrant for the United Nations and other nations to interfere with national sovereignty on this matter.

    Finally, the Duterte governent has to be clear about our obligations to treaties with other countries and conventions of the United Nations to which we are signatory. President Duterte on his own cannot abrogate these agreements and turn his back on them.

    With national interest clearly embodied by public policy, our government can talk turkey with other nations.

    Rigors of policymaking
    Shortcomings in policy-making are handicapping the Duterte administration because it has not undertaken the basic and necessary process of developing its policies.

    It has depended mainly on presidential personality and prediliction to shape its posture in the national, regional and global arenas.

    Public policy, simply defined, is a government plan of action to solve a problem that people share collectively and cannot solve on their own. Such a course of action must be manifested in laws, public statements and official regulations. Public policy is rooted in law and the authority and coercion associated with law.

    To adopt specific policies in whatever realm, a government must go through the rigors of policy analysis and policy advocacy.

    Policy analysis is principally concerned with describing and investigating how and why particular policies are proposed, adopted and implemented. It searches scientifically for the causes and consequences of policy.

    Policy advocacy, on the other hand, is primarily devoted to examining policies, along with alternative policy options and proposals, with a view to discovering the best course of action.

    Policy advocacy without the findings of analysis is blind. A policy option must be evaluated in the light of what studies have revealed about its chances of being adopted, its probable effectiveness, and its difficulties of implementation.

    Policy analysis without awareness of ethical and ideological perspectives is lame. Ethical principles must be brought to bear on the discovery of the good and bad effects of policy.

    After analysis and advocacy follow policy adoption and implementation.

    These in a nutshell are the stages of policy development, when policies are made properly, not off the cuff or on the fly.

    And this, I submit, is what the 90- day-old Duterte presidency must take to heart, if it is to be effective and respected in the family of nations.

    It’s good to know that President Duterte has a worldview, which encompasses nations other than the US. It’s just as important for the statesman to know how the world works.


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    1. Philippine is best supported by the billions of dollars remittance by Filipinos working abroad. They are not in Russia, China or North Korea. Millions of Pinoy are in USA, Europe, Middle Eastern Countries and other western countries.
      Why go against with these countries that give shelters and jobs to our countrymen?

    2. How I wish Mr. Duterte would put in writing his govt policies & be read by his official spokesman. Every time he opens his foul, unfiltered & dirty mouth, troubles & anxieties follow (out of context, miscommunication, denials, etc.) – nakaka buwisit na, nakakahiya. Sometimes, it is my impression he does not know what he is talking about. Lawyer pa naman !!

    3. The problem in the Philippines are the Filipino themselves …
      They cry for change and when it comes they want it in a different way…
      There’s what we called priority, you can’t have it all – -and this is where Filipinos screw Things up… I’m no exception until late part of my maturity I realised this is the best president we have had …
      Let him lead for God sake !!!

      The author of this article I’ll bet he couldn’t even make his family straightened up … he needs to check his relationship with his wife and kids …

    4. China is stealing your land, they ignore the rest of the world in this & just walk roughshod over everyone. & you want closer ties with these guys, are you kidding me. If duerte colludes with china he is selling out the philippines. Once he has sold you its to late. Im afraid the president isnt presidential when speaking.

    5. Did you notice even the American junk and obsolete ships of military nature are being sold to us of course at a lower price good for a family of lobster to dwell in our seas if submerge. Previous governments announce that we have a grant & aid in millions of dollars but did they tell us it is free and no STRINGS ATTACHED. Nope and nobody tell us from any branch of government that it is free and no payback will be made by this country. In the absence of FOI and NATIONAL ID, we filipinos are getting some raw deal from our government. We profess to be a good democratic country and yet the basic element of these ideals are missing instead our good Senators and Congressman are fighting for whatever spoils the current government can give to them. What then the policy we are talking about …. we have NONE. What a shame.

    6. You have got to be stuck on stupid to trust China for any reason.

      China floods the streets and stores in the Philippines with billion$ in cheap junk everyday for Filipino consumption. A consumption economy is always standing on ONE leg. Do you seriously think they will risk one Chinese dollar escaping due to diplomatic relations ? hahaha

      Anytime you deal with China they will have one hand on your wallet and the other hand up your old lady’s skirt.

      • The problem with the Duterte presidency is that there is no concrete foreign policy nor a clear domestic plan to face current problems the government is facing. This is further complicated by the appointment of varied interest groups in the cabinet who provide Duterte with conflicting and self-serving opinions that cause Duterte say something only to take it back later. It does not help that Duterte has the tendency to open his mouth before thinking!

        What you say about dealing with China is true. But the same goes with dealing with the US. The US gives something in exchange of something MORE! The US always GIVE something like in form of aid BUT always with STRINGS ATTACHED. Even projects supposedly granted by “agencies” almost always include a clause that American “consultants” must paid from the same budget of the project!

      • What junk are you talking about? Check the gadgets you are using, communications software and hardware, car, tv and appliance components….. all manufactured in China , assembled elsewhere , even maling is now better than span or libbys at one third the price …..mrt and railroad rails, heavy equipment, power generators, all from China….the junk goods are christmas decors , lights and accessories which the atheist chinese sekk ti ys christians ….