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Rough Cuts | Duterte’s high ratings could be on its toughest test

Davaoeño President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been able to sustain his exceptionally high performance and acceptability ratings since he assumed office about four years ago. Yes, there was one instance that his ratings dropped a little but were still in the “Very Good” category. Since that little “debacle,” the President was able to get back and sustain his ratings that border from outstanding to excellent.

And according to records by existing opinion polling firms, there has never been any President in the past that was able to hold on to that enviable number in the surveys except the incumbent. In other words, the opposition, and those who allowed themselves to be used to bash the Duterte presidency, appear to be unsuccessful in their objectives.

But even as the President is able to cement his hold on the people’s trust and confidence in his leadership, it is the President’s men who are fast becoming the indefatigable rust that continuously dent his administration. His trusted men have been so lax or possibly so brave that their guts to defy the President’s campaign for a clean and honest government are getting stronger as the President is entering his dying months in office. It seems some of the people he had placed in various offices, as a reward for their support to his candidacy, are fast helping their own hands into the government coffers or into the collection boxes knowing that in two years or a little more, they’d be out of office. So, they could be making hay while the sun of the Duterte administration is shining bright.

Unfortunately, by the doctrine of command responsibility, the corruption, ineptitude, and milking the most of the resources that the President’s men have the opportunity to lay their hands on, are dragging the administration down.

We have no doubt that the impact of the uncontrolled influx of Chinese nationals supposedly to work in Philippine Overseas Gaming Operations (POGO) all run by Chinese gambling syndicates will manifest in the next edition of performance and trust rating surveys on the Duterte administration.

And why are we somehow definite with our assumption that the current controversial issues haunting the Duterte administration would likely pull Duterte’s rating down? But of course, it likely would. The doctrine of command responsibility still holds supreme in this particular situation.

Add to it the hesitation of the administration to come up with bold actions on existing policies and legislations that allow the operation of gambling owned and run by foreign nationals whose country has driven them out for their illegal activities. Gambling, in any form, is not allowed by law in China. But its government is shrewd. While the government bans gambling in China, the moneyed syndicates could have bribed the Chinese authorities into allowing them to be “exported” to other countries like the Philippines where they bring in their resources “lock, stock, and barrel” and flood the money-hungry government of the Philippines and the even greedier officials of regulating institutions like the PagCor, the Bureau of Immigration, the Anti-Money Laundering Commission (AMLAC), the BIR, the Police, the Customs Bureau, and others.

During last Thursday’s initial Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe on the unabated entry of multi-million US dollars in cash into the country, the AMLAC representative was more evasive in his answers or far from being updated of what is happening as well as seemingly appearing ignorant of his Commission’s responsibility. Why they are placed in that sensitive agency by the President we can only surmise. But what we are certain about is that while they claim that the cash brought into the country were all declared except for one, none of the agencies invited in the probe know where the money went and from whom did the cash come from. That is most unusual.

Earlier, a probe led by Sen. Risa Hontiveros on the allegations made by a whistleblower Immigrations Bureau insider on the money-generating “pastillas” syndicate, it looks as if the guy put on top of the Bureau has no idea that corrupt practices had been ongoing for years already.

Then there was the testimony by controversial columnist Mon Tulfo alleging that the man on top of the “pastillas” racket is no less than the former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. Ironically, the BI is under the Justice Department. The former DOJ top guy and BI’s Commissioner Jaime Morente both denied knowledge of the multi-million peso racket.

So that would mean that the operation of the syndicates that engaged in trafficking of persons and open entry of billions of US dollars cash into the Philippines without knowing where the money came from and where the cash went to, happened without the President’s men knowing. It could mean the President would never have the opportunity to know of the illegal activities’ existence had not all these were disclosed in the Senate.

Now that all these shadowy activities are brought to the open, where would this possibly lead the President’s performance and trust ratings?

Well, the result of the opinion polls that will be conducted during the period when all the undesirable activities happened would give the Filipinos the right answer.

We can only hope the President will come up with a more decisive and acceptable response to the controversies during the time that the polls will be in progress. That would probably give a more balanced situation for the polls’ respondents to give the fairest of answers.

As the late Davaoeño senator Alejandro “Landring” Almendras loved to say, “Let us to see.”

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