By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is confident that incoming Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista could do a better job than his predecessor due to his military background.
The President has defended the appointment of Bautista, the retiring chief of the Philippine Army, as the next secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), saying military men follow orders and get the job done swiftly.
Duterte made the statement after expressing his frustration with “acting chief” of the DSWD who supposedly engaged him in constant debates that delay the implementation of his directives.
“There are misgivings among the senators and congressmen that I am appointing another ex-military man in the Cabinet,” Duterte said in a press conference in Malacañang last Tuesday.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. In my years of service sa gobyerno. Alam mo ‘yang bureaucracy and I don’t — I don’t mean to offend them, not all, pero ‘yung iba kasi, especially if you want a decision right there and then. And you have to cut corners but not illegal. Marami kasing… Susmaryosep, debatihin (debate) ka pa. That’s what they do. They debate with you and day after tomorrow, nandiyan na naman, daldal na naman, daldal, daldal, daldal,” he said.
Duterte, who has appointed several retired military and police officials to his administration, recognized the bureaucracy was “very slow” and he prefers uniformed personnel to complete the task faster.
“Gusto ko talaga kasi isang utos lang, nagagawa [I really want that when I issue an order once, it is followed],” he said.
“Sometimes they cut corners but you just have to defend them because it’s your order. Hindi naman kasi magsunod-sunod ka dito. It takes you forever. Ang gobyerno is really, really, really, very slow,” he said.
The President recently offered Bautista the DSWD cabinet portfolio, replacing Virginia Orogo who has served as acting Social Welfare Secretary since May.
Duterte initially asked Bautista to become the next National Food Authority (NFA) administrator but gave him another Cabinet post instead. Bautista, former head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), is scheduled to retire from the military on October 15.
Some lawmakers have opposed Bautista’s appointment and raising concerns about the growing militarization of the President’s Cabinet.
Duterte, however, pointed out some disadvantage of having a civilian in his Cabinet.
He complained about the “acting chief” of the DSWD who insisted on coursing the government subsidies and other relief items to mayors instead of giving them directly to beneficiaries.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Look, why don’t you just give the money directly? It is national funds. It is national relief goods.’ Kung ibigay mo ‘yan sa mayor, dahan-dahan mawala ‘yan. I know. I’ve been mayor,” he said.
Duterte said he wanted the list of beneficiaries validated by concerned government agencies so the DSWD would give the funds directly to the people in need.
He expressed concern that if the distribution of cash subsidies and relief goods are devolved to mayors, they might only give the funds to their supporters.
“Tapos sabi ko, once the list is validated, kayo ang magbigay sa pera and in times of emergencies, kayo ang mag-release sa goods. Maybe the mayor will help in the distribution. Eh ‘pag debate — ‘pag debate pa,” he said.
When informed by the DSWD chief that such process was not based on the Commission on Audit (COA) circular, Duterte said the commission was a “different entity” that should not meddle in the affairs of the executive branch.
“We run the Executive department. I do not want COA interfering of how I distribute the goods and money to the people. For as long as they reach the intended beneficiaries, COA has nothing to do with it except to audit,” he said.
He said he just wanted “to be fair” in the distribution of the benefits to the people.
“Kasi kung ibigay mo sa mayor ang bigyan niya ‘yung mga supporters niya, in times of crisis ang bigyan niya, eh partisan eh. [Because if you give the funds to the mayor, he will give it to his supporters in times of crisis. That’s partisan],” he said.
“So this is not a place where you have that luxury of choice. It must be given to the intended persons, who would need it,” he added.