Write a blog or two exulting then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and you can collect later from the man who eventually was elected as the nation’s new leader in 2016 with an unprecedented 16 million plus votes and an equally unmatched 6 million plus lead over the shell-shocked second placer?
This was what a then-dancer/singer-turned-blogger might have thought, but she probably did not expect to be rewarded with a Cabinet position when she heaped praises on the dark horse in last year’s race to Malacanang.
But Mocha Uson is now assistant secretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office, thanks to the power of her cyber pen, flawed the grammar and syntax of opinion pieces that have come out of it.
Obviously, according to Duterte’s critics mainly among the so-called intelligentsia, the academe and civil society, utang na loob (moral or political, even ideological, indebtedness) was at work in this blogger’s appointment.
But even if it was, the President must have deemed her to be deserving of his trust and confidence beyond her blogging and who knows, other skills that could surprise her detractors in high places.
These critics claimed that that the appointment proved that political patronage has been and will always be part of the dispensation of largesse not only by the executive department but also by the other two branches of the government.
But utang na loob, for good or bad, has for ages been part of the Filipino psyche, and possibly of Asian societies and cultures, where, for example, a family in a town where there is no electricity would butcher its last beast of burden to thank the vice mayor for giving a scholarship to the brightest and fairest member of the clan.
The downside is that the head of that family would not be able to repay the debt even if he pulled off nine lifetimes and when carabaos that work the ricefields will have gone endangered or worse, extinct.
For him to forget just once his utang na loob is to lead to his losing face—another Asian strength or weakness as the case may be—before his peers who most likely brand him an ingrate for the rest of his peasant life.
We would be good if this female blogger and the others before her who had been given juicy jobs met expectations of the President down the road.
Among these are Martin Dino and his daughter Liza and Dino’s son-in-law and Liza’s husband Aiza Seguerra, a former child actress and now part of the Duterte administration as are Martin and Liza.
We, however, are cautioning the President to ease on his apparent distribution of the spoils of the country’s more recent political war, or the government might just end up becoming an old boys’ network just like unlamented past administrations, particularly that of Joseph Estrada.
To stop the brickbats from the President’s critics, his administration could give headhunters a try because, as it probably is, it does not really know who it is installing in what seat and why him or her.
Headhunters are employment recruiters or executive searchers and headhunting is the practice of literally taking a person’s head after killing him.
We are not talking about bloody murder, only about an option for Malacanang or the same one taken by the world’s elite financial institutions looking for presidents, vice presidents and CEOs.
Headhunters, though, are outrageously expensive but they rarely come up with lemons like some of those who have probably been recruited by Malacanang’s selection committee, if it has one at all.
Of course, it is the President’s prerogative to make part of his team a blogger or whoever fits his criteria other than his choice being from his hometown Davao City or being from his alma mater San Beda College–a disappointment in the 2016 Bar examinations–but he should be guided by what he has been preaching.
On so many occasions, Duterte said his government would be graft-free but the people want his selection of Team Duterte to also be free of political baggage.