A Big Mountain to Scale

By Roger Bantiles

DOES President Rody Duterte (PDu30) still have time to sleep, or even to eat?

The problems and issues facing the country today march endlessly before the President’s eyes, just to name a few: crime, drugs, corruption, stranded OFWs who have been laid off in Saudi Arabia.

Also, the West Philippine Sea row with China, lack of jobs in the Philippines, secession and insurgency, the call for federalism and how to go about government re-structuring, weather extremes disrupting agriculture, and widespread poverty.

Likewise, staring at him is a very expensive IT service that shamefully compares with war-torn Afghanistan in speed and quality of service, an incompetent energy industry that is not only the most expensive in this part of the world but also chronically unable to comprehend the desirability of scheduling repairs and maintenance in such a fashion as not to disrupt power supply.

Choose any three of these problems in random fashion and it would already be too much for any administration to face.

If PDu30 were the blaming type, it would be easy to do, and he would be justified considering that he is into the Presidency for only 45 days as we go to press.

Only the issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea cannot be blamed on any of his predecessors. Others were already rampant long before he plunged his hat into the presidential derby.

Observing him from afar in action in Davao, you can conclude that PDu30 does not waste his time finger pointing. He comes forward and does what he has been summoned by the people to do.

Come to think of it. Blaming anyone just waste precious intellectual energy that could have been spent with gain in dissecting, understanding and solving a problem.

The act of blaming betrays a lack of understanding of the problem at hand and serves as a convenient escape route away from responsibility.

Today is the time – and the problems that we are facing are the type – that tries men’s souls.

Many of the problems earlier enumerated are beyond many men’s capacity, working collectively to anticipate, plan for and solve.

The traffic problem in Metro Manila is a case in point. People in other parts of the country consider this as a problem impacting only on Metro Manila.

In reality, economic analysts say that the traffic mess bleeds the country of lost income and opportunity to the tune of P3 billion a day.

In US Dollars at P46.995 exchange rate, multiplied against 365 days in a year, the total hemorrhage from the traffic mess is equal to US$23.3 billion a year.

To compare, OFWs remitted US$25.8 billion last year. Since when has this traffic mess been going on, and how much cumulative income went to the wind?

In any case, PDu30’s campaign resonated because the Filipino people have seen that he is the only one equipped with the intellectual capacity and proven executive ability to solve the various problems enumerated.

He is also respected – and feared – by the various fractionalizing if not destructive forces of society. So, whether he likes it or not, PDu30 has to dig in and advance and fight back, all at the same time, like a good foot soldier.

PDu30 should go back to the Filipino People – perhaps again and again –for inspiration and appeal to them to participate in solving problems that can be done at local levels.

He has a good precedent for this. President John Kennedy fired up a whole nation, especially the young, with the challenge, “ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

PDu30 can do the same to mobilize the whole country.With a trust rating of 91 per cent, perhaps all that the people are waiting for is to be asked and to be correctly guided on what to do.

With all the problems enumerated above, there is no shortage of what to do.

(A short version of this article appeared in the Mindanao Journal.)

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Sunday, 19 January 2020
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