Erratic leadership

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

Management by trial-and-error, close-open governance, leading by tantrums, governing by pique, flip-flop management – these are just some of Duterte’s contributions in the field of management, particularly in the area of public management. They accurately sum-up the erratic leadership of Du30.

The drastic closure and abrupt opening of lotto establishments all over the country verbally ordered by Du30 add to the expanding list of his fickle and capricious spur of the moment decisions. It once again underscores the volatility of Du30’s mind and the instability of his administration.

On a rainy late night Du30 suddenly barked an order closing all the game and gambling operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Immediately, not even bothering for a written order, the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), armed with Du30’s words swooped down on all establishments operating PCSO-sanctioned activities and closed them. Many police officials took the opportunity to gain instant publicity and had themselves photographed posting closure orders on these establishments. The less polished and crude ones just sprayed “closed” on the doors of the establishments but not without ensuring the media is around to record the vandalism. (If the police are only this quick in acting on public complaints, there would be fewer crimes in the country.)

PCSO is reeking with corruption Du30 cried and so he ordered its activities stopped. Du30’s instant action leaves a very bad taste in the mouth and raises disturbing questions not only in the manner he runs the country but his mental state. All top officials of the agency are his appointees and if they are brazenly corrupt, it reflects on him as the appointing power.

Where did Du30 base his conclusion that corruption is so bad at the PCSO? Was an investigation conducted and the result provided irrefutable proof that corruption is so bad in the agency? Du30 did not give any evidence to back up his allegations. If the evidence exists only in Du30’s imagination, something is amiss with the way his mind operates. Imaginary evidence is not acceptable in the court of law and Du30 is a lawyer.

The most alarming is the verbal nature of the order.  Du30 is acting more like a medieval monarch whose word is law. This is not the first time Du30 issued a verbal order. Aside from the order to stop PCSO activities, Rappler documented six other instances where Du30 issued verbal orders with no written documents issued later. These are: anti-tambay order, Boracay closure, threat to arrest Kapa Community Ministry leaders, the arrest of WellMed owner, China fishing deal and Rappler coverage ban. Without documents, implementing authorities like the PNP do not know the parameters of the order and it could be abused. Verbal orders signal the death of accountability and transparency and indicate an authoritarian streak.

Four days after issuing his verbal order stopping PCSO’s activities, Du30 ordered the re-opening of lotto establishments. There was no revamp or changes in PCSO leadership nor was any action done to address the “massive corruption” in the agency Du30 claimed. With a flick of a finger, all is well at the PCSO. What happened to the charges of corruption? Apparently Du30 was silent on the matter when he re-opened the lotto outlets. So, was the whole episode just another dirty Du30 joke?

The whole nation is not amused by a joke borne out of a presidential tantrum. Closed down were 20,241 STL and 6,313 lotto outlets, 2,762 Peryahan ng Bayan, 778 Keno and 190 STL drawing centers. It affected 120,000 people whose livelihoods depend on PCSO operations. The uproar caused by the closure could have forced Du30 to back down.

But the public see sinister reasons behind the close-open act of Du30. The whole affair is a charade to cover up the takeover of PCSO activities by allies of Du30. The appearance of Atong Ang, tasked by Du30 to clean up the mess at PCSO is an indicator that transforming PCSO as a milking cow, not corruption is the motive of the flip-flop.

Aside from covering up the handing of PCSO activities to allies (or cronies), the PCSO fiasco is also a diversionary tactic of Du30 to deflect the anger of the people on his veto of the “endo” bill or the security of tenure bill. Ending the end-of-contract cycle or endo is Du30’s campaign promise and won him the support of hundreds of thousands of workers victimized by this labor malpractice. Last year he certified SB 1826 which addressed the endo problem as urgent.  Congress passed a bill that would have ended endo and is about to become law when Du30’s veto killed the bill.

Workers victimized by endo are angry that Du30 betrayed them. The social media is ablaze with video clips of Du30 making strong statements against endo during the campaign. Du30’s veto of the bill he certified as urgent is another evidence that Du30 is not the harbinger of change but a puppet of big business interest in the country. Once again the workers and the Filipino masses as a whole were duped, this time by Du30. The change Du30 promised is as bogus as the fake news his minions promote.

Du30’s sudden decision against PCSO drowned the issue of the veto of the endo bill. In an instant Du30 erased from the headlines his betrayal of the workers. Under Du30, the Philippines has become a land of broken promises and Du30 wanted Filipinos to forget his treachery and duplicity through sensational and controversial action.

But it is doubtful if the people had forgotten Du30’s trickery. The closing-opening of lotto outlets only compounded Du30’s woes on the endo issue. It only reminded Filipinos of the erratic leadership they have chosen and the tragedy that had befallen the land.