Running the country like an LGU

Atty. Farah G. Decano


PRESIDENT Duterte runs the country like a local government. By winning a plurality of the votes in 2016, he must have easily concluded that his voters wanted him to govern the Philippines that way. Or perhaps, he has been so entrenched in this LGU style of leadership for decades that he knows no other methods.

What is this LGU headship method? The parochial one, of course.  I am not saying that all LGU style of management is “provincial,” so to speak.

The parochial leadership puts good emphasis on perception.  Because the territorial jurisdiction of an LGU is smaller and the constituents share the same cultural background, and are, more often, known to each other, the chief executive of an LGU easily becomes the center of power and assistance.  While delegation occurs, there is a great need for the narrow-minded LGU chief to appear as the bearer of panacea for all the problems arising in his territory including those personal to his/her constituents.  Almost often, the issues are similar and, therefore, the answers are, almost always, the same. Band-aid solutions are easily resorted to because of the briefness of the leader’s political term.  For long as the “solution” work within the duration of his stint, then the perception of his administration remains ok.

Unfortunately, this management style does not work in a diversity of people, of cultures and in a larger territory and for politicians with a longer term.

What are the indicia that President Duterte has not discarded his LGU leadership approach in governing the Philippines?

Ah, he has a great need to be the only “political idol” in the country. Emerging political stars must bow to and acknowledge his almighty presence. I remember how the popular projects of Vice President Leni Robredo and the effective and practical approaches of Mayor Vico during the nationwide Enhanced Community Quarantine last year, got the goat of the executive. Why? They quietly performed their duties without alluding any assistance from the President. Consequently, they did not only receive an absence of support but also persecution from Duterte’s camp, trolls included.   Contrast these two mavericks with Mayor Isko Moreno. Being in local government for many years himself, the Manila mayor knows that to earn the encouragement of a leader with deeply ingrained LGU parochial background, one must be, most often, of the sycophant and condescending kind.  Aside from frequently mentioning President Duterte, Mayor Isko gamely raises his hand in the level of his shoulders and does a fist bump.  The latter now enjoys the backing of the President.

Because of the emphasis on perception of power unified and centralized in him, President Duterte sees a variety in opinion as an affront against his leadership.  He needs to control the Senate and the House of Representatives by using the carrot and stick method.  I have never seen the usual thugs in the Senate bow down to any president, except president Duterte. Didn’t he say in the early months of his presidency that he had the “goods” about them in the same way he possessed the “goods” about Senator Leila De Lima?   Similar things happen locally under a close-minded leadership. The fiercest followers are rewarded with trips, positions and unusual benefits.

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