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Rx for P-Noy’s headaches


“Three Cabinet men giving P-Noy headaches,” headlines a Manila newspaper. It must be really bad that he had to admit and broadcast it before dozens of officials and employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) during the department’s 113th anniversary celebration. The question is: what is he going to do about it?

If a person had a headache, a temporary remedy would be to take aspirin or any other over-the-counter painkiller. If the headache persisted, then that person should see a doctor. It works all the time.

If it was a presidential headache and a troublemaking cabinet official had caused it, a temporary remedy would be to talk to that cabinet official and straighten him or her out. If the troublemaker continued to cause more problems, then he should do a surgical procedure… fire the damn troublemaker! It works all the time.

Indeed, firing a recalcitrant official comes with the president’s prerogative to hire and fire people of his choice. The people he hires serve him at his pleasure. And when that pleasure is gone, he can either ask them to resign or fire them. No due process, no questions asked.

Now, who are these troublemakers in his official family? P-Noy said that DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson is not one of them. Aside from Singson, P-Noy also took exception of Secretaries Mario Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology and Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management. That means all the rest of his cabinet members were suspect.

He admitted that whenever Singson, Montejo or Abad would ask for an appointment, he always granted them their requests. And for the others, he said, “I have to force myself. Maybe it’s part of my tribulation in this world.” Couldn’t he do something about it like talk to them or… just fire them?
Firing people isn’t new to P-Noy. Actually, he didn’t blink an eye when he fired weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo -- barely a month after he took office – because he supposedly made an error in predicting a storm. That’s zero tolerance.

Last March 31, 2011, P-Noy fired deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III for gross misconduct in handling the dismissal-complaint against police officer Rolando Mendoza, the hostage-taker in the August 23, 2010 hostage-taking fiasco at the Rizal Park. That’s zero tolerance.

Last June 15, 2011, P-Noy suspended Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit on preventive suspension for 90 days after she was “formally charged with graft and betrayal of public trust in connection with the plea bargaining deal she accorded former Armed Forces comptroller Carlos Garcia in his plunder trial.” That’s zero tolerance.

By now, P-Noy should find it so easy to fire or suspend government officials who don’t walk the “matuwid na daan” (straight path), which he enjoined them to do. Indeed, P-Noy might even find it easier to fire erring officials than fire at paper targets with his collection of firearms.
But why, in Heaven’s name, can’t he fire his erring “shooting buddies” who had embarrassed him with their malfeasant acts? He should have fired DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno when Archbishop Oscar Cruz exposed him for receiving payola – or protection money – from jueteng lords and also for incompetence in handling the bloody hostage-taking incident.

And he should have fired DOTC Assistant Secretary and LTO Administrator Virginia Torres who was recommended for dismissal by then-DOTC Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus for gross neglect of duty and gross insubordination. P-Noy’s decision to stand by his “shooting buddy” forced de Jesus to resign from his post in disgust.

So why does P-Noy have zero tolerance for officials whom he did not appoint and give slack to his so-called KKK (Kabarilan, Kaklase, and Kaibigan) cronies?

If his KKK cronies are the ones who are causing him headaches, then P-Noy should – nay, must! – fire them and end his “tribulation.” He is not going to get any sympathy from anybody for his self-inflicted tribulation. But he owes the people – his “boss” – to appoint people not on the basis of friendship but for their honesty and competence… and also to walk the “matuwid na daan.”

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