Roxas' promises: Are they doable?
MANILA, Philippines - It has been a little over two weeks since Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas has taken over the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), but the list of promises he has made since taking the helm is getting longer and longer.
The list includes keeping the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo's legacy alive, and more lofty goals such as the eradication of crimes that have plagued the police force.
Can he do it? Below are 5 of the goals he has set for himself and the DILG.
1) Robredo's legacy
The first promise of Roxas when he took his oath as DILG chief was that he would continue the work Robredo started. When he was first named as the replacement of Robredo, Roxas said, "I have big shoes or big tsinelas (slippers) to fill."
Robredo, who died in a plane crash on August 18, was known for his campaign for transparency -- something Roxas said he would maintain in the department.
In a news conference after his oath-taking on Saturday, September 29, Roxas noted that the national government pegs the annual Internal Revenue Allotment at around P300-B. He said the national government should ensure that LGUs use this money properly.
“Transparency, accountability, people empowerment, including the ordinary people in decision-making of the local government and even the national government – these are the hallmarks of Secretary Jesse’s leadership and we will continue all these,” Roxas said in Filipino.
“Hindi po ako si Jesse Robredo. Kumpara sa kanya, marami po akong mga kakulangan. Subalit maasahan po na gagawin ko ang lahat sa abot ng aking makakaya upang mabigyang respeto ang legasiya ni Secretary Jesse,” Roxas said.
(I am not Jesse Robredo. Compared to him, I have many shortcomings. But you can expect that I will do everything I can to honor the legacy of Secretary Jesse.)
2) No private armies
As the 2013 midterm elections near, Roxas vowed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will spare no one in its fight against private armies. Roxas said they will work hard to dismantle private armies harbored by politicians, and will enforce the law against them.
On Wednesday, October 10, Roxas said there would be no favoritism as the PNP cracks down on private armies. “We will talk to them [politicans], but make no mistake, we will enforce the law,” he said. “We will closely look into this. We will not let this pass. There’s going to be no patronage. Our objective here is peaceful, orderly elections."
Roxas said the police have determined election hotspots that the PNP will focus on.
"The point is we will do everything," he said. "We have 8 to 9 months before the elections, so it will be negligence if we could not prepare."
Past governments have tried -- but failed -- to dismantle private armies. The PNP, on the other hand, has been unable to collect loose firearms. Police officials said this week that the licenses of at least 610,000 firearms expired in August 2012.
3) No more bata-bata system
On Monday, October 8, a little over a week since he took his position, Roxas faced the PNP for their flag-raising ceremonies as the guest of honor, where he vowed to put an end to the "bata-bata" system -- wherein superiors play favorite among their subordinates.
Roxas emphasized that promotion in the police force will be based solely on merit and performance, a system pushed for by Robredo when he was still alive.
"Tapos na ang araw ng mga padrino. Tapos na ang araw ng palakasan at pagpopogi at the expense of the institution and of others. Ang inyong promotion ay susukatin batay sa inyong performance, sa inyong disiplina, dedikasyon sa tungkulan at katapatan sa bandila," he said. "There will be no bata-bata system during my watch. If you perform and deliver, you will have my support."
(The days of the patrons are over. The days of sucking up to your superiors at the expense of the institution and of others are over. Your promotion will be based on your performance, your discpline, your dedication to your duties and your commitment to our flag).
It remains to be seen. The rumored favorite to become the next PNP chief is the former bodyguard of President Benigno Aquino III, Deputy Director General Alan Purisima. The incumbent PNP chief, Nicanor Bartolome, is from Tarlac, like the President.
4) End of kotong
In the same event, Roxas also said he would not tolerate questionable behavior within the PNP under his watch, specifically kotong or bribery.
Roxas said his goal is to restore public trust and confidence in the PNP, and to rid the organization of its image as corrupt and abusive.
In 2011, when Roxas was still with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), he partnered with the DILG and other departments and local government units in launching an Inter-Agency Anti-Kotong Task Force as well as an Anti-Kotong Hotline. Now sitting as DILG chief, Roxas promises to continue to fight kotong and hold guilty cops and traffic enforcers accountable.
5) Crackdown on jueteng
One of the biggest challenges that has traditionally faced the head of the DILG is the proliferation of the illegal numbers game jueteng. Roxas is no exception.
In a speech at Camp Crame, Roxas admitted that jueteng is one of the most intractable problems he faces along with illegal drugs and illegal logging. But Roxas said that failing to address these will continue to put PNP in a negative light, and are all "at the core" of the PNP's low public approval rating.
The Aquino administration has said that jueteng is not its priority, but Roxas has expressed his intention of cracking down on operators, which Robredo worked hard to minimize during his leadership.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who is a member of a watchdog against illegal gambling, has accused presidential buddy and resigned interior and local government undersecretary Rico Puno of being a protector of jueteng lords. - Rappler.com