"Reasonable baselines should be established to temper lofty expectations that have been initially set."
About 40% of Filipino voters entrusted their future to Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 2016 Presidential Elections. A year and a quarter into his term, it appears that the general public has grown a little impatient over unfulfilled promises that indeed, 'change is coming."
In the latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from September 23-27, the President's net satisfaction ratings significantly dropped to 67%, down by eleven percentage points from 78% in June. While Malacanang may have a point in saying that the ratings dip merely signals the end of the honeymoon period for the Duterte administration, this could have been avoided had a more prudent and holistic approach been taken as far as governance is concerned.
While it is acknowledged that the campaign against illegal drugs is important in promoting peace and order, progress on other key sectors such as traffic and transportation, housing, unemployment, and investments remain wanting. No doubt, the President is eager and capable to deliver on his promises as he has proven to do so in Davao City. However, the President's resolve must rub-off on his duly appointed cabinet members.
It is now time for the President to aggressively pursue the "shape-up or shape-out" approach in managing the performance of his cabinet members. Two high-ranking police officials have already been sacked for serious neglect of duty. We expect more dismissals as part of internal housekeeping and cleaning measures.
By this time, it is important that development initiatives should already be moving. The proposed 3 Trillion budget for 2018 puts the government in a position to pursue significant projects on infrastructure, disaster rehabilitation, and poverty alleviation. Government agencies must therefore be equipped with the capacity to spend these programmed budgets on-time.
Lastly, it is necessary for the government to be candid with its targets and forecasts. Reasonable baselines should be established to temper lofty expectations that have been initially set. Government agencies must crack the whip on their respective statistical bureaus to improve their data gathering and analysis capabilities. Doing so would effectively allow government to gauge the success or failure of its various policies, programs, and activities (PPAs).
Reforms do take time to take effect. It is essential that the public is made aware of this fact. Management of expectations is also part of the portfolio in governance. The Duterte administration must improve on this aspect if it hopes to regain public confidence.
The President continues to enjoy great trust from a vast majority of Filipinos. However, it will take more than promises to recover what was lost. It will take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that these promises are turned into actions and results.
At the end of the day, there are expectations to be managed and met. There is a level of trust which must be maintained. There is a country that expects and trusts that President Duterte will fulfill his promises. Now is the time to stand and deliver!
NOTE: The writer heads a group supporting the President, Samahang Duterte. Most importantly, the writer is Pro-Philippines.