An Orchestra Out-of-Tune

An Orchestra Out-of-Tune

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.

— Singer-songwriter Billy Joel

THE campaign against illegal drugs was a campaign platform of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte and with it—along with his advocacy to rid the government of corruption—he was able to grab power and become the president of the republic. And this vaunted ‘war on drugs’ that has resulted in the deaths of thousands including innocents in bungled police operations, has brought the chief executive to controversy after controversy—and still, he insists on the importance of cleansing our society of drug addiction.

And with Duterte’s well-known abhorrence of crystal meth-addiction (and other drugs as well as party drugs known as Ecstasy), it would be safe to say that people should be afraid to get involved lest they end victims of either the police or vigilantes.

So how did it happen that Davao City’s information officer Jefry Tupas resigned and was fired on the same day after she attended a birthday party where authorities seized about P1.5 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested 17 people during the consequent police raid on the gathering.

Tupas is an ex-correspondent for a prestigious newspaper and she admitted that she was at the party held at a beach resort in Mabini town in Davao de Oro, reasoning that “like the other guests, (she) was invited.”

Perhaps she has nothing to do with the drugs, but do we believe that?

I CONSIDER the bureaucracy of government like an orchestra that should always be in-tune with the musical piece they are playing—be it Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Serenade No. 13 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Ludwig van Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony—since they are usually led by a skilled conductor who directs the performance with movements of the hands and arms, often made easier for the musicians to see by the use of a conductor’s baton.

So a conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo, and shapes the sound of the ensemble—and so does a president or leader of a country who leads his government and people to a concerted effort to bring their country to wealth and prosperity.

And what happens when the orchestra’s conductor turns out to be a looney?

I am sure the music will turn out to be more of noise than a beautiful melody that soothes or invigorates the soul. And so again with the government because whatever direction it moves towards to would either bring the country it rules to progress or ruin.

And we now ask the million-dollar question: What of the Duterte administration’s music, its mode of governance, and its leadership? Is the former mayor of Davao City a skilled conductor that can lead the orchestra, which is government, to play in tune with its advocacy?

Here is a clear example of how our president is leading his orchestra.

Amidst the hullabaloo over the use of face shields between some local chief executives (LCEs) and the national government, Duterte’s mouthpiece—the ever-so-boot-licking lawyer, Atty. Herminio ‘Harry’ Roque Jr.—had declared Manila mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso’s decision to lift the mandatory use of face shields as “null and void.”

But no less than interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año made a clarificatory statement on this, maintaining that LCEs, such as mayors and governors, can lift the mandatory use of face shields in public places even without seeking approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Año explained that even without the approval from the government’s pandemic policy-making body, it is up to (the LGUs) if they want to decide ahead of the IATF: “As I said, that issue is not worth quarreling about. It’s not like before where we didn’t have vaccines yet and our cases were really high. We were really strict then.”

The secretary, himself a member of Duterte’s Cabinet like Roque (and so an integral member, too, of the chief executive’s orchestra) even stressed that although “there are issues that need to fight to be sure (of keeping people safe), there are also issues that government needs to adjust to because we are living with the virus.”

Still, our friend Roque reiterated that executive orders had been issued declaring “null and void” the lifting of the face shield requirement in Manila and also in Davao City even as he tagged the lifting of the requirement as “in violation of an existing executive policy decreed by the president himself in the exercise of police powers.”

Despite this, the Department of Health (DoH) is urging local government units (LGU) to follow the existing protocols on the use of face shields set by the country’s pandemic task force.

In an appeal to the LGUs, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire (herself another member of Duterte’s orchestra) enjoined local chief executives to wait for the decision of the IATF-MEID on the use of face shields, calling on all local officials to just hold their executive orders or their issuances of such to avoid confusing the citizenry.


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