Elected leaders who misunderstand their roles

Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

It would seem that a number of our elected officials have no clear understanding of the roles they have to play under a democratic government.
Foremost of these are US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as US House Speaker Paul Ryan and Philippine Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez.
Messrs. Trump and Duterte both have issues with judges who disagree with their actions. For the American leader, his ill-fated Executive Order banning nationals from seven predominantly Islamic countries from traveling to the US was quickly shot down by federal judges last month. But he is so hell-bent on his anti-Muslim campaign that he has just released another EO that continues to limit nationals from six of the original seven countries from entering the US.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, Mr. Duterte has just said that local government officials such as mayors should not be subject to audit by the Commission on Audit, whose job is to make sure that public funds are spent legally. Speaking in the vernacular this week, Mr. Duterte said something to the effect that the men and women of the CA should just take over as mayors since they seem to know better.

It has been pointed out time and again that Mr. Trump’s lack of experience in governance is one of his biggest weaknesses. He simply does not understand that his heading the executive department does not mean he also heads the legislative and judicial branches of government, or that they are subordinate to him. He feels he is more empowered because he was elected, while everyone else in the two other branches of government are either appointed or promoted.
As for Mr. Duterte, he recently admitted – an apologized for – continuing to act like a city mayor, which he was for the longest time. As president of the Republic of the Philippines, he wields tremendous power and has appeared swamped by the responsibilities of office.
As SpiderMan was reminded by his Uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
As President, Duterte still does not comprehend his great responsibility to the Filipino people. Consider that some of his appointees like Mocha Uson (essentially a former bold starlet) and Cesar Montano (a faded matinee star) have been committing acts that show their failure to follow the rules at the local board of censors and a marketing arm of the Tourism department, respectively.
It will get worse in the near future as Mr. Duterte has promised to give a job to publicity hound Sandra Cam (a self-styled whistleblower), who is already acting like a big shot by claiming to be close to the president.

Incidentally, it was recently learned that Mr. Duterte is now the owner of a brand new top of the line Mercedes Benz, which he says was a gift from a former girlfriend who refuses to take it back.
If this seems both questionable and illegal, it probably is. Let the Commission on Audit determine that and have the Ombudsman take over if it is found that it is.
Birds of a feather
As for the Speakers, Ryan and Alvarez are somewhat birds of the same feather, except the Filipino is so much worse than his American counterpart.
Consider that in the run-up to last year’s presidential elections, Ryan was barely on speaking terms with then candidate Trump. He had made it clear that he disagreed with the Republican Party’s presidential bet on a number of issues.
Well lo and behold, Ryan has now become Mr. Trump’s super dependable ally in Congress, leading the way in trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) even if it means that more than 20 million Americans will be losing their health care.
If this seems bad, consider that Alvarez has threatened to impeach Supreme Court justices as well as lower court judges who issue temporary restraining orders, a tool that lawyers resort to in order to block what they consider as miscarriages of justice. Yes, some judges and justices issue too many TROs, sometimes without good reason. The suspicion is that some judges issue the orders at the behest of clients who are better funded than their opponents.
He was a nondescript congressman before his closeness to Mr. Duterte resulted in his becoming Speaker of the House, but Alvarez is showing that he is the least qualified of all the men who have ever held the position.
Politically, it looks like the Philippines and the US are both in a strange place today, but don’t tell that to the Trump and Duterte fanatics. For them, their idols can do no wrong.

Last modified onSaturday, 18 March 2017 00:08

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