Duterte shows how good government works

Published September 19, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Getsy Tiglao
Getsy Tiglao

While Senator Antonio Trillanes IV hides inside his room in the Senate, the Duterte administration has been working hard the past few days to save lives amid the onslaught of typhoon Ompong.

The Philippines is a “disaster-prone country” said a liberal Western newspaper that hates us. Maybe, but then we are resilient people and proud of it. We are lucky, too, that we now have a President who works hard and knows how to mobilize government’s vast resources in order to protect the people from natural disasters.

Massive evacuation was undertaken days before “Ompong” made landfall. Emergency food kits were packed and delivered in an organized fashion. The transportation and public works departments stood ready to work with their personnel, heavy equipment, trucks, and buses as soon as the worst of the storm was over.

Agriculture and trade officials ensured that the food supply was adequate and that prices of goods were kept under control. Even the finance department played a part when it ordered through legal means the release of smuggled rice stocks to the social work department for distribution to storm evacuees.

President Duterte showed us what true leadership means. It is not posing for magazine covers or sending out daily press releases. True leadership is the ability to mobilize people and resources to do the work that’s needed, in this case, preparing for a disaster and minimizing losses.

Duterte himself presided over a command conference of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) with all his cabinet secretaries in tow. He also made sure that the country’s weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) took center stage to give everyone data and updates on the supertyphoon.

(This detail brings to mind the serious blunder committed by former secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas, who forgot to consult a representative from Pagasa when he was in Tacloban and mistakenly said super-typhoon Yolanda would arrive at noon when it instead hit at dawn.)

Duterte’s long experience as a local government executive has proven useful in his presidency. He has an appreciation of the state, its power and potentials, which the previous administration did not have.

For instance, he was able to properly utilize the NDRRMC, which is the working group of various government and private sector organizations, administered by the Office of Civil Defense. This group was first formed during the Marcos era in 1970 as the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

This group for decades has been responsible for coordinating efforts to ensure the protection and welfare of the people during times of natural disasters and other emergencies. This is an institution that just needed a strong leader in the mold of Duterte to make it work.

The Yellows have been foolishly misrepresenting Duterte’s strong leadership as “dictatorship,”  simply in order to deny his achievements.

As a long-time mayor of Davao City, President Duterte knows that government’s massive and corruption-prone bureaucracy will only work well with a strong leader at the helm.

Without a brave leader willing to take on the drug lords and narco-politicians, illegal drugs, and the criminality they engender will continue to destroy our society.

Without a strong decision-maker with an empathy for the underprivileged class we will not have seen the reforms we are seeing such as the free tuition fee law for state schools, free irrigation for farmers, free health services, the reduction in income tax, and the increase in salaries of police and soldiers.

Consequently, there has been a marked fall in the crime rate and drug incidence, underreported by mainstream media. At the same time, foreign direct investments registered a 43 percent increase in the first quarter. If this is dictatorship then I’m all for it (together with the over 85 percent of the population who approve of and support Duterte).

President Duterte has shown us what good government is – competent, efficient, productive, and working for the public good. As Thomas Jefferson said: “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

It is thus unfortunate, that the idea of government as the “enemy” of the people had been allowed to grow in the minds of the gullible youth. Mainstream media, as controlled by the selfish elites, are partly responsible for propping up the biases against the Duterte government.

As political scientist Francis Fukuyama has posited, there are many services and functions that only a government can provide, such as defense, education, public health, infrastructure, and the like. These all fall in the realm of providing for the public good.

Disaster preparedness is also a major function of the government, and many people just take for granted the work put in by public sector employees. We thus hope that media can start looking at this government in a different way instead of its usual adversarial attitude.

Media people should also start weaning themselves away from the “yellow mentality” propagated by Trillanes and his ilk who are always planning for the next uprising or coup d’etat. The people are tired of this. Let’s just keep the destabilizers in jail and concentrate on nation building.