Much has been said about the former military and police brass whom President Rodrigo Duterte chose to head government offices. As of the last count, there are more than 50 former military officials in the administration, including about five generals in the Cabinet.
Mr. Duterte said that his preference for top soldiers to be his alter egos is due to his belief that they do things faster and with little argument.
Military stars brighten the coronavirus disease response team due to the presence of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the 2001 commander of the Philippine Army Special Operations Command; Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was a chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); Peace Process Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., another former chief of staff of the military; Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, yet another erstwhile AFP chief of staff; and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, who was a Philippine Army Chief.
Bautista’s appointment, among the generals, was the most assailed since his critics said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should be headed by somebody who knows social work.
Now, the critics fell silent which can be taken as a tacit approval of the way DSWD is functioning.
The former Army general is faced with daunting tasks all happening in several fronts at the same time after the onslaught of a string of typhoons.
In a report, Bautista said that assistance is simultaneously being provided to Regions 1, 2, 3, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, 5, Cordillera Autonomous Region, the National Capital Region and the Bicol Region ravaged by typhoon “Ulysses.”
Unlike before when the relief efforts are disorganized resulting in reports of several devastated areas not getting any aid; or of relief good rotting in some corner of Metro Manila; and of bailiwick provinces that are not in a dire situation getting the bulk of government assistance, government help now is more effective.
Coordination in the Cabinet led by the former military officials also helped in the smooth flow of assistance.
DSWD has enough budget for disaster response operations despite the calamities that struck the country topped by the lingering coronavirus disease crisis which Bautista also has to address.
Bautista said the Department of Budget and Management has replenished the DSWD’s Quick Response Fund. In DSWD field offices and the National Resource Operation Center have stockpiles or goods and standby funds ready for new emergency situations, according to Bautista.
To have an effective response system, Bautista employs skills acquired from his military stint such as the use of Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis undertaken in cooperation with local officials and government agencies to determine the correct allocation of the limited government resources.
Still, Bautista is the target of disinformation. Some Senators accused his agency of having P83 billion in unused funds which, however, turned to be earmarked for specific projects which the legislators should have been aware of since they crafted the law for these.
Bautista said P48.3 billion of the questioned amount is allotted for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, P2.1 billion for the Supplementary Feeding Program for Children, P2.6 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood Program and P3.9 billion for the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens.
With several challenges facing him, the soft-spoken general chooses to express his response to the critics through productive actions rather than engaging in useless arguments.
Had the President picked lesser men, the nation may be faced with the same level of chaos after typhoon “Yolanda” ravaged the Visayas region in 2013 where politicking resulted in the misery and death of many Filipinos.