• The honeymoon and the first hundred days

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    THE transition of command from President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd to President Rodrigo Duterte is not the only transition that is critical for the country and the new administration.

    As important and crucial is the transition of a victorious President from the mode of campaigning to the mode of governing the nation.

    Governing is controlling government by organizing and providing leadership to the legislative and executive branches of government.

    To take advantage of his electoral mandate and create a sense of momentum, the President must hit the ground running after taking the oath of office. Mr. Duterte started running on the very afternoon of his inauguration, by convening his first meeting with his Cabinet.

    Honeymoon with Congress
    The theory is that the quick start creates a honeymoon with Congress, which is mandated to convene on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session. For some reason, the media is thought of as joining this honeymoon in a desired period of good feeling and amity (which is fine by the media if they are not banned from the bridal suite).

    The new President must also start to prepare immediately his first address to the opening of Congress, which, in our tradition, is construed as a state-of-the nation address (SONA) but is designed as a vehicle to present the President’s legislative agenda and his vision and program to the nation.

    Roosevelt and the hundred days
    The pace is hectic; the problems will not wait; there is no time for “Noynoying.”

    The man to blame for the hurried pace and high expectations is the presidential dynamo, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who turned his first hundred days in office into a measure for success in the presidency

    FDR was inducted in the midst of the Great Depression in America, when many were wondering whether that nation would survive. The stock market had collapsed; banks had failed; unemployment had reached 25 percent; confidence was shattered; and the fear of public unrest impelled that machine guns guard government buildings.

    The situation was so grave that Roosevelt spoke in his inaugural address of the possibility of imposing emergency powers that would temporarily suspend the normal legislative process. FDR called for action, and rallied the spirit of a downtrodden people. He declared: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    He then called Congress to a special emergency session and promised to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. The special session lasted three months, and people referred to it as the “Hundred Days.”

    Those hundred days produced an unprecedented number of important legislation: 15 major bills that greatly expanded the size of government through the creation of, among other things, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to protect bank accounts, the Public Works Administration to provide jobs, and the National Industrial Recovery Administration to regulate industry and stimulate the economy. Other reforms like the Social Security Act would follow.

    Since then, incoming US Presidents have been judged by the benchmark of FDR’s first hundred days.

    By about his 60th day in office in 2010, BS Aquino was confronting his first big crisis as President: the hostage-taking incident at Rizal Park, which would take the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists. He flunked the test.

    House and Senate cooperation
    Duterte is assured of a honeymoon with Congress because clear majorities have swiftly evolved in both the House and Senate, which would elect leaderships that support the Duterte agenda.

    In the House, Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao has emerged as the consensus choice for Speaker.

    In the Senate, another Mindanaoan, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, has become the choice for Senate President.

    The Liberal Party, which has nominally the most number of members in both Houses, has sheepishly receded to the background. Former Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte will take subordinate roles. By the time Congress convenes on July 25, many legislators will be wearing the colors of PDP-Laban, Duterte’s party vehicle in the election.

    High on the agenda of Congress will be the passage of certain measures that the President considers as urgent. Among these is the emergency powers act to empower the President to resolve the traffic crisis in the metropolitan capital and clear away the bottlenecks to vital infrastructures.

    The larger vision of governance will be spelled out by the President in his first SONA.

    Relentless war on drugs
    Without ceremony, the new government has already launched an all-out campaign against crime, and especially the illegal drugs trade.

    Since the elections on May 9, and as of Sunday, 69 drug suspects (drug lords and pushers) have been killed by the police in Manila and various parts of the country. A number have also been killed by citizen vigilantes out to collect a reward.

    Duterte’s threat to kill drug users and dealers has prompted thousands (including drug addicts) to surrender en masse.

    But the President himself has created thorny complications to the anti-crime campaign. At a meeting with Tondo residents after his inauguration, he practically deputized the public to kill drug dealers and pushers, and promised them protection.

    He similarly deputized members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to join the killing spree

    This raises hard questions about the spread of a culture of impunity across the land. Paradoxically, impunity will grow as the anti-crime campaign moves along.

    The writer Oscar Wilde, in a classic paradoxical statement, declared, “I can resist anything except temptation.”

    President Duterte is saying something analogous: “I will wipe out criminality, except impunity.”

    Media gets a break
    Amid the upsurge of bullets and dead bodies, the media got a break over the weekend.

    A broadcast journalist and his son survived a daytime ambush in Surigao City. Saturnino Estanio, Jr., 41, anchorman for dxRS Radio Mindanao Network, can report his tale. But his 12-year-old son was wounded and is in critical condition at a local hospital. Estanio is known for his tirades against the illegal drug trade and illegal gambling in Surigao City.

    One hopes this means that the luck of journalists in this country will change under President Duterte.

    The government is readying measures to improve media access to government, and solve the hundreds of unsolved murders of journalists.

    Malacañang hopes to fix relations with the media by issuing within two weeks two executive orders: one on freedom of information, and a second designed to speed up the cases on media killings. A task force on the killings will be formed.

    This is a sea change from the earlier Duterte policy to ban media interviews and news conferences throughout his term. The President can also change his mind.

    yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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    7 Comments

    1. Jose S, Alejandro on

      We just hope that Pres. Duterte does not commit the same mistake as PNoy made by gambling or betting his political capital in trying to engage the Congress and the public into something that has nothing directly related to addressing the pressing problems of poverty and investments left by the Arroyo govt. … and that is spending two years trying to take out a Supreme Court Chief Justice and Ombudsman whom he did not like. By the time his efforts succeeded, so much of the DAP and PDAF has been spent and another election (local) was in the offing. There was no solid start or trace of achievements that can be accounted for during that local election season. It was again back to making promises and recitation of the previous govt,’s ills.

      Actually it was then too late to start anything substantial because another election (national) was heating up by year 5 of PNoy administration.

      We propose that Pres. Duterte engages his people, Congress and Judicial branch and their time into addressing the economic issues of poverty, investments and putting back in place the shambles left by “Daang Matuwid” Team. And jump-sarting projects that will directly benefit the lower level of our economic pyramid. Investments, infrastructure speed, energy and power sustainability and competitive costs, rice production, judicial processes are there begging for priority. Drugs and Corruption is a distinct sector to be effectively addressed. In doing so it should not gain precedence over those greater economic issues that touch the lives of the bottom of the pyramid.

      He should rethink the move to throw in those highly volatile and disturbing issues as, Federalism, Con Con, NPA Treaty, BBL etc .. because they can preoccupy the whole country into endless and protracted discussions and divisions and slow down and divert attention away from those economic issues as we said, begging for priority attention.

      There is no way that one hand can handle the issues of form change while the left attends to the issue of building substance and quakity in running the govt.

      The Duterte govt. having been elected with such majority does not mean he has the license to do anything … the votes he earned means he is expected to DELIVER the economic benefits in addition to cleaning up the narco and corruption issues now.
      After DELIVERING or showing what he can do in addressing those issues, then he may probably be allowed to tinker with the form.

      In the meantime, he can just encourage a low decibel of public discussions on those issues of form.

      Always remember that 24 months from now another political storm (local election) shall come and that depression would into our area of responsibility and usually land even before the 24th month.

    2. DU30 is simple and predictable. He define his objectives and expect subordinates to meet the goal. It seems DU30’s style appeals to millions of Filipinos. He dislike people who analyze simple things too much. The goal DU30 set were to reduce crimes and drug problems.

    3. Salve Aldeguer on

      For the first time in 55 years, I have followed closely the affairs of government. the Filipinos are hopeful for change to a progressive Pinas along with the poorest of the poor, the true measure of success. let’s include in our prayers victory of Duterte government, but first, change ourselves to contribute positively.

    4. Obviously Du30 is not being given any honeymoon period, whereas media gave 100 days respite to BS Aquino, and to his 2nd choice protégé, Leni with her fitting slogan, “Lie-Lie-Yan.”

    5. Nomer obnamia on

      President Duterte first priority is cleaning government agencies of corrupt officials and employees. BIR employees threaten on mass resignation so Duterte must call their bluff and let them go. Next order o f the day is to send Gen. Bato to Bilibid to dismantle executive offices owned by criminals, impose discipline and transfer all officers and men of prison system to Mindanao right away. What goes on in Bilibid is public knowledge but authorities did nothing to clean up the prison. Bilibid needs new management. Shame on PNP.

    6. Pnoy left this country in a mess. I still remember President Obama was elected with 2 wars, Iraq and Afganistan and the fall of wall street, recession, fall of big banks, bankcruptcy all over. United States survives with the strong leadership of Obama. Now, we have the same situation but in a lesser degree. Our economy is strong but criminality and drugs is rampant. Problem with China and Abu Sayap. The big problem of poverty. Can Grace Poe, Roxas , Binay , Defensor Santiago solve these problems ? Big possibility, they cannot. That is why God with all His wisdom selected a bad mouth politician Duterte. Like Moses who killed an Egyptian , a person not fit to save the Jews, God picked Duterte to create a big change. Is it for the better like Moses or is it a failure. One thing I am sure, God does not make a mistake. He is a perfect God.

    7. Tita Rimando on

      I am excited and wary at the same time; hopeful and cynical too. And still am part of that great human spirit of resilience and aspiration for yet a better society. I pray we could all rally/work together and make good happen.