Exit strategy: Run for public office

Exit strategy: Run for public office

Like many officials in past administrations, today’s new crop of Ex-Cabs or RRCs (Recently Resigned Cabinet) are not waiting for the curtain call or the call to resign as the Duterte administration comes to a close. Many of them are transitioning from being political appointees and are hoping to become elected officials, preferably in the Senate where they are all hoping to have the Grandest Reunion of any past administration ever. God forbid that the administration line-up once again gets most of the Senate seats in the 2022 elections, the outcome will be nothing more than a “change of address” from Malacanang by the Pasig River, over to the Philippine Senate on Roxas Boulevard.

Some of the potential relocatees are aligned with the potential Senate president, namely Rodrigo Duterte, while the other half of the transferees are now identified with Sara Duterte, whose future as vice president now hinges on every step that Senate President Tito Sotto makes as the reigning frontrunner for VP. It will be interesting how the senators will work under one roof while reporting to two different leaders or “masters.”

Meanwhile, I don’t know if the rest of the apolitical Duterte Cabinet members are simply being drowned out by all the pre-election chatter but their lack of public presence or activity has some of us a bit concerned. Are they already on scale down or draw down mode in terms of programs and services? The only ones we seem to continue to hear from are the officials connected with IATF, DOH, COVID management and the DTI. Whatever is left of the team has had a noticeable reduction in their engagement with the public and the media. While it is understandable that COVID-19 has seriously limited public engagements, there should be no reduction in public information on areas beyond health and COVID management. Many Cabinet officials have become rare in terms of interviews as well as press conferences, unlike in the past years.

We don’t hear much from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment & Natural Resources and the Department of Energy. We actually get more news about the politicking activities of the DOE secretary, which is partly the reason why the media refers to the PDP-Laban-Cusi Wing. Sadly, most of the news about these different departments have to do with controversy or inability to address serious problems such as the shortage of feed mixes, such as US soya, needed in the production of feeds for poultry and hogs. Instead of addressing or explaining why the Philippines is unable to produce more grains and materials locally as well as developing alternatives through research, the DA focuses on the market price of pork. To be blunt about it, the DA and its officials should stop commenting on a subject matter they really can’t control, except when it’s already too late.

While the DENR spends hundreds of millions on a previously non-existent white sand beach, many residents and visitors to the different beach resorts and beach fronts all over Batangas province have a common outcry: Why has the government or the DENR done nothing about the “illegal” annexation of foreshores and beach fronts in Laiya, Batangas – in Calatagan, Batangas – in Nasugbu, Batangas and many other such locations. Many of those critical of the privatization by annexation of beach fronts and foreshore are demanding that the DENR do the same thing they did in Boracay, where a minimum 20-meter rule was implemented and which freed up the beach for everyone to use.

I have heard a number of complaints from fisherfolk as well who have been restricted or prevented from getting to the sea because property owners and developers have fenced wide swaths of beach front, thereby depriving fishermen of “parking or docking areas” for their bancas. Only those who are contracted or listed as suppliers of resorts or beachside developments are allowed to pull up their bancas on the beach, which is supposed to be public domain.

Many people, of course, are upset about the Malampaya deal, the price of fuel and the failure of the DOE to spearhead a working strategy and actual plan to adopt renewable energy sources and technology. That is what happens when political appointees prioritize politics over power and energy that propel the economy and impact the quality of life of all Filipinos. With barely six months to go, chances are the reins of government will once again be turned over or given back to career executives and officials of different departments and agencies. If we are lucky, they may have actual programs to continue but the problem is many of these government offices will all run dry by Dec. 31 before the new budget actually drops into the slot and gets everything going.

According to several sources in typical government agencies, they are running on fumes until Dec. 31. Others are sticking to regular “operating budgets” mostly for salaries, overhead, etc., but nothing for the programs and projects that were highlighted in the last five and a half years. For example, anyone of you still hoping against hope that you will one day get the license plate for your car, motorcycle or land transport that you already paid for, please don’t hold your breath waiting because you will sooner pass out than get your plates. The budget for plates is already depleted, so much so that the LTO no longer has “blanks” that are needed to press number plates. Please don’t curse the LTO, they are just the implementor, they don’t control the purse strings or make their own budgets.

Having said all that, I do hope that our dear readers will be more proactive now until the May 2022 elections and really study candidates who are running for public office not just as an exit strategy but to acquire some measure of invincibility and immunity from suit. In the meantime, start rattling your keyboards and get the remaining government officials to mind the store and not the EXIT sign.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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