Monday, August 29, 2016

Duterte style: common-sense wisdom and bias towards ACTION

People who have seen enough in the business and corporate world know that sometimes the most effective performers are the ones who do not think or operate in the conventional, linear fashion that we have been trained to believe is the "right way".

Recall how well-structured and well-oiled Noynoy Aquino's organization seemed to be. He had all these Ivy Leaguers working in his administration. Yet the bureaucracy grew so bad under Noynoy that we could not even get license plates for our cars or ID cards for our driver's licenses.

Duterte, on the other hand, seems a lot less structured. But in 50 days, he, among other things, got rid of tanim-bala, rolled out the OFW one-stop shop, rolled out the 911 emergency hotline, reduced the processing time in several government offices, and brought the crime rate down by a significant percentage.

Of course, his team is still a work in progress and I also hope they will address the administrative weaknesses you have pointed out, especially the communications group. (I think Martin Andanar is okay, he just needs to be supported by more people and maybe a senior strategist who can monitor the big picture while he looks after the day-to-day.)

But I would like to note that Duterte's unconventional way of doing things may not necessarily be a negative. Judging from his track record in Davao, his non-linear approach may really just be matter of management style. For instance, how many "unstructured" college drop-outs have we seen who became very successful businessmen, and how many "structured" valedictorians and PhDs have we seen who simply failed to take off in life outside the academe?

What Duterte has going for him is his common-sense wisdom and bias for action. Typical example of his common sense thinking vs. yellowtard thinking:
The other day, Lourdes Sereno made another public statement that the police should under no circumstances make arrests without warrants. Duterte corrected Sereno by saying that the police can make arrests when a crime is being committed in their presence. He said, "If there is a terrorist na hawak na ang granada, tatakbo ka pa ba sa korte para kumuha ng warrant?"

Pak!

So my point is, in the end, it is not the style of doing things, but the results that matter. I'll take this streetsmart raging bull over the structured "disente" crowd any day, because he is practical and he gets things done.

That said, I think it won't hurt Duterte if he had more people like Sec. Art Tugade in his team—streetsmart na, structured pa.

As for Duterte's reforms being persona-based vs. institutionalized, I think there is no choice as of now. Given our current maturity level as a country, we are still a long way from being able to completely separate personality from principle. But there is consolation in knowing that at least our president today is not trying to paint every object in sight yellow, and not trying to name every road, school, building, airport, and holiday after his family to perpetuate their cult of personality.

The shift to federalism and the current government's focus on systemic change will help institutionalize reforms in the future. What do I mean by systemic change? Let's take corruption as an example. Noynoy Aquino's idea of fighting corruption was selective prosecution of his political enemies, to satisfy his thirst for vengeance. Duterte's approach to fighting corruption is to clean up government agencies starting from the frontlines all the way to the heads, to make life smoother and more equitable for ordinary Filipinos. There lies the difference.

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