Bloating the bureaucracy until it bursts

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

At the rate President Duterte is proposing to create new departments and agencies to cope with recurring problems and new ones, he is bloating the bureaucratic balloon to a point until it bursts.

 

Already, the government is the number one employer in the country—many of the civil servants hired for political favors and accommodations and the taxpayers are the ones that shoulder their fat wages and allowances.

 

The President has been showing off his largesse by fattening the salaries, bonuses and allowances of the men/women in uniform in exchange for their undying trust and loyalty to him (rather than the position) and he has also been generously doling out favors to those blindly loyal to him in cash or in kind, whenever the occasion calls for it.

 

He has been spending public funds as if they were his own to dispense with and as if the funding well is unlimited and deep.

 

SONA creations

 

In his 1.33 hours of speech at the 4th State of the Nation Address, he has so far asked Congress to expedite the creation of a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (a rebuke to the Department of Labor and its attached agencies, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Philippine Overseas Employment Agency); a Department of Disaster Resilience in preparation for future natural calamities (as if he is not satisfied with the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Office of Civil Defense) and a Department of Water Resources and a Water Regulatory Commission (an outright slap on Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the National Water Resources Board.

 

In February, he signed the law creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (a follow through of Marcos Human Settlements Ministry) to merge the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council with administrative supervision over the National Housing Authority, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., the Home Development Mutual fund and the Social Housing Finance Corp.

 

He also signed Republic Act No. 11202 or the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Act that requires telecommunication firms to allow cellphone users to retain their old mobile numbers if they switch to another telecommunication service provider. 

 

This law ensures that MNP will promote consumers’ welfare because it provides them the freedom to choose their service provider without having to change their mobile numbers. It also allows telco subscribers to keep their mobile numbers for life.

 

The system also seeks to encourage telecommunication firms to compete in providing the best overall value they can offer and to introduce innovations. Telcos will also facilitate the availing of MNP of virtual network operator (VNOs) it is hosting in its network. VNO refers to an entity that offers telecommunications service under its own brand but uses the network of another company at no additional interconnection charges for domestic calls and text messages.

Telecommunication firms will be slapped with a fine of P10,000 if the portability or the giving of MNP service is not performed within the periods allowed under the law but delivered on or before a complaint is filed or delivered after a mediation. 

 

The National Telecommunications Commission will be authorized to award a subscriber as much as P400,000 in damages. The amount will be collected from erring mobile service providers while the fines will be remitted to the National Treasury. 

 

Cancer treatment

 

He also signed RA 11215 that makes timely access to cancer treatment more accessible and affordable to patients. This measure allows the government to adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which includes the strengthening of integrative, multi-disciplinary, patient and family-centered cancer control policies, programs, systems, interventions and services at all levels of the existing health care delivery system.

 

It also aims to provide palliative care and pain management, effective survivorship care and late effects management and rehabilitation. It shall also make cancer treatment and care more equitable and affordable for all, especially for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized Filipinos.

 

The law creates a Cancer Assistance Fund to support the cancer medicine and treatment assistance program.

 

Other laws

 

Other national laws signed in February were: the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act, which imposes harsher penalties on anyone found guilty of killing, torturing, maiming and raping children and who subject them to inhuman and degrading treatment; the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, which will establish a program that aims to lessen deaths related to cancer; the Secondary School Career Guidance and Counseling Act, which will create a national counseling program to be administered by the education department; and a bill establishing the Philippine Sports Training Center. These laws understandably require huge public funding—again taxpayers’ money.

 

It is no wonder then that he urged tax and duties collection agencies to double their efforts and the Congress to pass the Trabaho Law, or the second tranche of the TRAIN (or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) among others.

 

 

 

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