Deals with the devil


Last month, debating whether the President was for or against the abolition of the corruption-ridden Road Board, through which the most crooked legislators effectively channel a mutated and insidious pork barrel modus, was like arguing the difference between pulling at a roll of toilet paper from the top or from behind. It was a useless debate and a waste of time.

It was also both a dilatory tactic and a distraction. Fortunately, better men with good intentions won over those useless debates and the anti-corruption advocacy of President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have prevailed – at least for the time being. It was wisely decided that the Road User’s Tax channeled through the agency would be applied on flood control programs in areas vulnerable to flood calamities.

That there was even an attempt by the House’s wheeler-dealers to pull a fast one on Duterte and the Cabinet remains disturbing. More so where cretins would now seek other ways around the anti-corruption initiatives pushed by the administration in such arenas as discretionary congressional funding, another name for the now mutated and unrecognizable pork barrel system the House leadership is still hell-bent on feeding on.

The Road Board has been a leak on the funding line of the government, most of it outside the budget and thus beyond the audit radar. It was best to just cut the leak and an agreement was arrived upon between the Executive and the Legislature early in the Duterte administration. The authority on the matter of budgetary spending is the Secretary of Budget and Management acting as the alter ego of the President, claims and whispers to the contrary by self-conflicted and dubiously principled House leaders notwithstanding.

For a while, the crooked and corrupt were kept at bay until the middle of 2018 when the slick veneer covering the walls of the grand plenary chamber at the House of Representatives suddenly cracked and termites started crawling out.

It is no secret that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had supported the candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. To what degrees the extent of her support was, only real insiders adept at political analysis would be able to divine whether it actually made a difference.
That Duterte won convincingly over his closest rival is not in question. In 2016, it was a question of an electorate enamored with a candidate they felt represented them and their rejection of another who came across not simply as a fake but dragged behind a long tail notched with serial episodes of ineptitude and failures.

The electorate’s choice is however once more threatened by the challenges hurled from the direction of what used to be a colossal hill of garbage east of Quezon City.

To determine a pest infestation, those in the business look for tell-tale signs as most of both vermin and insects are nocturnal feeders. Exterminators note small droppings of excrement.
What homeowners fear is that suddenly a ceiling or wall might unexpectedly come crashing from an unseen termite infestation.

Last year, on the occasion of the President’s State of the Nation Address, in the immediate hour prior, the walls started coming down. The unexpected event threw analysts into a quandary and it became imperative to review our bearings and analyze Rodrigo Duterte’s current post-electoral political foundations simply to ensure it remains intact.

Rest assured that Duterte earned even greater support and approval after winning the presidency shows us the length and width of his profoundly popular strength without Arroyo’s influence. The numbers that Duterte continuously enjoys after the electoral exercise no longer reflect what contributions others might have had in winning the presidency over his closest rival.

To do the arithmetic, simply measure the margin that Duterte won and compare that with the overwhelming support he now enjoys. The net difference reflects a distinctly proprietary support sans the Arroyo contribution.

Deals with the devil are no longer necessary and should be avoided forthwith.

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