A double whammy, both blistering and bomb-blasting, just hit the White House! Currently battering Donald Trump, the American president is sent into utter discombobulation.
Can something similar also be in the offing for our own President and the Malacanang staff? There are, after all, career public servants that keep the Malacanang bureaucracy at work regardless of who the serving President happens to be. They may likewise be patriotically bothered but out of fear are still insufficiently moved and thus, muted. Will the political virus and venom in Washington DC stream over and embolden the political climate in our midst? Will snippets and leaks begin to ooze out towards a cascade of the hidden rot in governance? Have righteous indignation and outrage been stoked sufficiently enough for certain closet patriots in the Malacanang civil service to possess the courage to share with the population ‘truth to power,’ a la-White House and the USA?
First whammy. There is legendary Bob Woodward’s latest magnum opus. Bob Woodward is, of course, remembered (along with Carl Bernstein) for the Washington Post’s monumental expose of the Watergate Scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. In his new book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Woodward “details the troubled, combative and often paranoid relationship between Trump and his senior staff…” He “charges that top national security staff find themselves compelled to protect the world from President Donald Trump should, in any normal time, precipitate an almost unprecedented national emergency.”
Much of the information in “Fear: Trump in the White House” have been sourced from interviews and recorded conversations with White House personnel, insiders whose identities Bob Woodward expectedly protects.
The book is still to be released on Tuesday, September 11. Yet, already it has been followed by a related second whammy. An anonymous op-ed was carried by the New York Times on Wednesday, September 5. It is noteworthy that such anonymity was for the first time, reportedly, allowed by and resorted to by the New York Times. Here is NYT’s rationale:
“The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers…..”
“I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. I work for the President but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The author is said to be a “senior official” in the Trump administration. Here is the full Op-Ed:
Mark it well, friends, there are many discernible similarities and parallels between ‘the Donald’ and our own “Caudillo wannabe.” It is for this reason that I raise what is most probably now a predominantly shared hankering for rectitude and sobriety in the manner by which the nation’s affairs are being conducted and orchestrated! It is well and timely, too, that we all realize that such official behavior has come to pass only because we allowed it.
There has got to be, in some niche or nook in our vast bureaucracy, some individual who is prepared to put country and constitution first, over and above political caprice.
“Requiem aeternam, Federalismo Dutertem, Requiescat in pace"
...seems to be the message of the Inquirer’s August 31 news report quoting the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The story’s headline says: “Shift to Federalization to Cost Gov’t P253.5-B, says NEDA.” With the political sensation presently besetting the nation, the people’s concerned attention would have, understandably, waylaid the impact of NEDA’s assessment. I read it to be veritably an obituary for the misguided idealism that has animated federalism’s most prominent promoters: former Senator Aquilino “Nene”Pimentel, Jr. and ex-SC Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno. The ‘arithmetic’ of federalization was obviously left out in the drafting work of the President’s Consultative Committee (ConCom) for a new form of government. Both Pimentel and Puno have been unheard from since.
Ph. 253.5-billion is the definitive quantification of what NEDA Sec. Ernesto Pernia meant when he publicly declared that the shift to federalism will “wreak havoc” upon the economy. Truly, where in heaven’s name does the country hope to find such resource. As it is, the economy is going downhill without any palpable pragmatic prescription in sight intended to arrest the slide.
On the other hand, I find a ray of hope from NEDA’s pronouncement. It appears as the very last sentence of the news item and would have been very easily missed by readers. It says: “NCR should be decongested while reducing the NCR-centricity of economic growth.” (NCR--National Capital Region means Metro Manila.)
Lo and behold! For the first time, in an official pronouncement, NEDA has acknowledged the existence of the very cause of the ‘malaise of Metro Manila.’ The spectre of congestion has been staring us in the face for at least a generation. Demographers and urban planners have professionally proven that today’s chaos and disarray was not unforeseen but for the absence of political will and foresight.
Are we now, then, able to hope that “Decongest, Decongest, Decongest” will be allowed to compete with “Build, Build, Build” for national policy consideration? Decongesting the NCR and demagnetizing the Manila-centricity of national economic growth is a more affordable, reasonable and effective undertaking than what I regard as the hallucinatory “Golden Age of Infrastructure.” I view it is an exercise in unaffordable fiscal profligacy. Worse yet, the President proudly admitted that his pet pump-priming project is shored up by onerous China loans, oblivious of the “debt trap” experienced by near a dozen of developing countries.
In a future blog, I will take the opportunity of once again reiterating ( I have been on this advocacy for a couple of decades, now) and discuss in more detail, the foundation of Metro Manila’s government-led decongestion.
Inspired by NEDA’s “ray of hope,” I will speak, again, of the total relocation of all military camps and installations in Metro Manila to new and farther away venues, for starters. Their continued presence in the NCR is now irrelevant and anachronistic. The unalterable reality is that their missions and raison d’etre do not require a presence in Metro Manila whereas wherever they relocate, new wealth will be created thus “reducing the NCR-centricity of economic growth.” Each of these entities is a self-contained economic unit carrying people, payroll, buying power and services. Trade, commerce and the professions will follow and gravitate.
Without a planned decongestion and reapportionment of population, the “malaise of Manila” descends into doom.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
His e-mail is:[email protected]
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.