Wasted first two years

In recent days, President Duterte has been announcing proudly his firing of officials which were rumored to be involved in graft and corruption.

Last Sunday, in hisspeech during thegroundbreaking of Vista Alegre homes for soldiers and policemen in Talisay City, Negros Occidental , he talked about an official who talked with his relative about a government contract:” Humabol sa akin sa Cebu. You go. Both of you, you go. Wala akong, wala kong… I don’t want to work with you. At may isa dito, sinabi ko na. Mabuti kasi may TV. Do not entertain requests or give favors to any of my family. Huwag sa asawa ko, huwag sa akin, huwag sa mga anak ko, huwag sa mga pinsan ko. Now, if you try to say that I asked the help of the first family because you cannot decide on a certain thing, which you think would need, why do you have to consult my sister? Sinabi ko sa inyo --- p***** i** ‘wag kayong --- if it is a relative of mine, consider it denied”

The next day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the President fired Assistant Transportation Secretary Mark Tolentino for violating his order against talking with his relatives on state contracts or appointments.

Fired Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Tolentino in Malacanang last February. Photo from Tolentino's Facebook page.

Tolentino, according to reports, discussed with the President’s sister, Jocelyn, about the Mindanao Railway Project.

Early this month, Duterte let go of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo after it was disclosed in a report by the Commission on Audit that the DOT paid a television program hosted by her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo, in the government broadcast station a whooping sum of P60 million in advertisements.

Teo was replaced by Agriculture Undersecretary Berna R. Puyat who also let go of actor Cesar Montano as head of the Tourism Promotion Board for questionable P80 million Buhay Carinderia project.

There were many more of his appointed officials that Duterte fired although not necessarily for alleged graft and corruption.

Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Benjamin Reyes was dismissed last year for contradicting the President’s figure of four million drug addicts in the country, which was the basis for his “Kill, Kill “solution to the drug problem.

He was replaced by former Armed Forces Chief Dionisio Santiago also to be fired later when he publicly criticized the construction of a 10,000-bed drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija province, a donation from a Chinese businessman which Duterte was proud of.

Wanda Teo before the May 7 cabinet meeting in Malacanang. She was asked to resign afterwards. Malacanang photo by Toto Lozano.

Malacañang spins these firing of officials to show that Duterte is a no-nonsense, decisive chief executive.

Sorry, but that’s not how we see it.

In the first place, why were they appointed. It shows weak leadership. Duterte used his power of appointments for political spoils and not for public interest.

He puts premium on personal loyalty over competence which betrays immaturity.

Tolentino was the President’s San Beda schoolmate and is a Lex Talionis fraternity brother. Teo was active in his election campaign.

It should also be noted that he has not touched officials who have been exposed of not-so-regular activities like Jason Aquino of the National Food Authority.

He has also recycled officials who were embroiled in controversies. Former Customs Chief Nicanor Faeldon, under whose watch 604 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion slipped through Customs, who was appointed deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense.

Melissa Avanceña Aradanas , a cousin of his common-law partner Honeylet Avanceña, was named named deputy secretary general of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) on months after she was removed ascommissioner of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, together with other officials of the PCUP for their unnecessary foreign trips.

Some try to justify the inferior quality of Duterte’s appointees saying they were given government positions as political favors and now that he is through with “bayad utang”, his appointments will be based on qualifications.

A wasted two years. And what about the wasted millions of government funds?


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