President Manuel A. Roxas

But not all is rosy with Roxas in Malacanang

A year and a half after Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel A. Roxas was elected by a slim margin in May 2016, the Philippines has continued with the Daang Matuwid program of Roxas’ predecessor.

But not all is rosy with Roxas in Malacanang.

The MRT has bogged down several times that the commuters are already so used to it. Comforted by the Filipinos’ unique sense of humor, pundits say that if you have not experienced walking from one station to the next, then you are not a true MRT commuter.

One scandal that has also piqued the Filipinos’ sense of humour is the never ending laglag bala scam in the country’s airports. Airport authorities, led by NAIA General Manager Jose Angel Aquino Honrado, a holdover from the previous administration and relative of former President Benigno Aquino III justify comical apprehensions of old ladies in wheelchairs, Catholic nuns, Hare Krishnas. These have resulted in various funny memes circulating the net but it seems not to affect thick skinned airport authorities.

On a serious matter, the drug trade has increased exponentially that even the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has conceded that almost 100% of all barangays are drug infested. It does not help that Administration Senator Leila De Lima, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, has thwarted all efforts by concerned and relevant agencies to fight the drug trade by limiting their operational budgets.

NGOs and civil societies have alleged that incidences of theft, murder and rape, have increased because of the prevalence of drugs in barangays. But Presidential Spokesperson Maria Ressa has argued that there is no causal relationship between crimes and drugs citing the statement of Dr. Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur that “… many harms associated with drugs are not caused by drugs.”

Critics of President Roxas allege that any effort to curb drug abuse in this country will be inutile anyway since the President himself knows where to buy drugs as he claimed during the campaign, even volunteering to accompany people to the drug peddlers.

Critics also cite the unusual relationship of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno with President Roxas that has stopped all legal cases against the policies of the current administration. These policies include the Tax Forgiveness Program, patterned after the US Internal Revenue Service. Critics argue that the Program has benefited primarily the friends of the administration since entities that have been granted tax forgiveness are Hacienda Luisita, Mighty Corporation, Philippine Airlines, Dunking Donuts, among others.

The Supreme Court has also voted to use present market valuation to assess the land distributed in Hacienda Luisita, causing the government billions in payments to kins of former President Benigno Aquino III.. The new decision overturned the SC’s previous decision during the term of the late Chief Justice Corona.

All these are unfortunately overshadowed by the death of thousands of children vaccinated with Sanofi’s DengVaxia. Opposition senators are pushing for a Senate inquiry but the Chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, does not want to pursue any investigation, and he is fully supported by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Parents of children who died of severe dengue caused by the DengVaxia vaccine have approached the Human Rights Commission but Chair Chito Gascon has said that there is no basis for any complaints against the state since there is an assumption of regularity in its decision to purchase the vaccine, untested as it may be.

When the parents approached the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, the prelates instead offered their prayers and promised that they will have a dialogue with President Roxas, adding that organizing rallies are not anymore functions of the Catholic Church.

Social media has been very critical of the Roxas administration but Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Jim Paredes has blamed virulent anti-administration blogger Mocha Uson as just creating fake news to discredit the administration.

In ASec Paredes’ accustomed behavior, he berated members of the Malacanang Press Corp at the top of his voice when they started asking questions on the exact number of fatalities caused by DengVaxia. He claims that the numbers are exaggerated and then shouted at the members of the press to “shut up.”


About the Author
Mr. Leo Querubin is a Certified Management Consultant, a Master Project Manager, A Certified International Project Manager and a Fellow of the American Academy of Project Management with over 30 years of extensive, international experience in planning and implementing large scale IT projects. He is currently a Managing Consultant at Indra Philippines handling the Public Administration, Education and Healthcare markets.
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