Now that the Duterte administration has been formally installed, it is time to get on with the serious work of fixing government. The President has set the broad agenda — eliminate crime, corruption, and make the bureaucracy more responsive to the needs of the Filipinos — but he has left the details up to his most trusted Cabinet Secretaries.
“Trust,” in this sense, is the essential ingredient that will allow the President to fulfill the promises he made during the campaign. And while it may be impossible for one man to solve the problems of the country, it is — as Duterte himself says — “very doable” with his team of trusted, dedicated public servants.
But even as Team Duterte works on improving the lives of the citizens, there are still those who insist on following the old, corrupt ways of past administrations. People just can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that things are different now. Change has come. It is no longer business as usual, and those who insist that it is are in for a rude awakening.
Nowhere is this more true than in the notoriously graft ridden agencies of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Now under the watch of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the palakasan-system that ruled and ran those bureaucracies for decades has come to an abrupt and absolute end. Just like Duterte, Dominguez is also allergic to letters of recommendation, padrinos, and personal favors in making his personnel appointments.
Despite this, there are still those who persist in worming their way into the new administration. Chismis are even being spread on media that “some of the corrupt customs personnel who were reassigned by former Customs Commissioner John Sevilla at the Department of Finance (DOF) are trying to get back their old positions at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).”
While we are unclear on the objectives of those circulating these rumors, one thing we are sure of is that under Secretary Dominguez, corrupt customs officials would not be reassigned. They will be fired, prosecuted, and jailed.
Then there are also rumors about this “woman who claims to have been appointed deputy customs collector for assessment, a very lucrative position, after talking with Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez,” and “a resigned customs police officer who resigned while at the DOF and now wants to get back in with yesterday’s changing of the guard at the BOC.”
We reached out to the Secretary to get his comments on the rumors and, in typical Dominguez fashion, his reply was clear and direct to the point, “This is simply not true.” And for those who know him, that is the end of it.
For us, these five words articulated by a man Duterte trusts carry more weight than an encyclopedia’s worth of lies and innuendos from those who would derail the great task that the President has set for his men — to restore the people’s trust in government.