Illustration by Carla T. Gamalinda

 

LAZY, vindictive, deceitful.

President Aquino III assumed the presidency last year amid euphoria and much promise only for him to dash the same expectations because of his lack of vision and lethargic leadership. A year later, the nation is listless, aimless, and rudderless.

No wonder his satisfactory rating in the recent Social Weather Stations survey had dropped; the general public, whom he called “boss” in his inauguration last year, did not feel the benefits of his service. From a rating of +51 last March, his satisfactory rate slid to +46. Apparently, the people lost their excitement over the man who promised to take the Philippines to the “straight path” towards progress and development.

Of course, everybody knows his slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Transparency-wise, Aquino’s record looks clean at first blush. But it threatens to be exposed as a whitewash sepulchre as he has appointed people to key positions in government based on nepotistic considerations.

Last October, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno, a very close adviser to the President, and former Philippine National Police director Jesus Verzosa were accused of receiving millions in “jueteng” payoffs.

The President has also been weighed down by suspicions of his clannish ways as the Cojuangco family, perhaps the most powerful economic-political family today in the country, seems to have been blessed by the decisions of the Supreme Court on the coco levy funds and Hacienda Luisita. But perhaps the most striking example of Aquino’s poor leadership is the Luneta hostage-taking incident last August, in which the police botched the rescue of a bus full of Hong Kong tourists, resulting in the killing of several foreigners. The incident exposed Aquino’s ineptitude.

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How he has handled the fallout from the fiasco has even been even more disastrous. In a bid to appease Hong Kong and Beijing, he has sacrificed the Philippines’ human rights plank, bowing to Chinese pressure not to send a representative to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies early this year since the laureate, to Beijing’s chagrin, was a dissident. Even Chinese bullying in the Spratlys may be a result of Aquino’s poor handling of the Luneta fiasco.

Different members of the government and the media had been blaming each other for the fiasco, but one thing is for sure, eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed.

Different countries issued travel ban to the Philippines. Tourism failed, and the actions meant to strengthen the industry also proved to be futile.

The “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” program by the Department of Tourism encountered criticisms after the promotional campaign was found out to be of the same scheme with Poland’s tourism crusade, “Polska.” Undoubtedly, the Philippines passed through the “walk of shame” during those times.

Last March, the public saw how weak Aquino’s international profile was. Three Filipinos—Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo, and Elizabeth Batain—were executed in China after being found guilty of shipping illegal drugs from the Philippines. Despite kowtowing to China during the Nobel Peace Prize controversy, he was not able to save the Filipinos from the executions.

Aquino has vowed to be the complete opposite of Arroyo, but he has been forced to eat his words by continuing the previous administration’s projects like the Conditional Cash Transfer, which aims to help the poorest members of the society. Under this program, parents will be able to send their kids to school with an expanded budget and number of target beneficiaries (2.3 million families in five years).

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Conditional cash transfer is good but it may be just stopgap. Government should focus on priority projects with long-term effects, such as those directly addressing education, social services, and employment.

Then again, Aquino’s economic and social vision has proved vacuous, what with his support for the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. Regarding the bill, Aquino has played doublespeak. While saying he does not support the bill, he has expressed hope it would be passed.

The doublespeak extends to what amounts to the demolition job by the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) against the Catholic bishops who have opposed the RH bill. After leaking to the media that seven bishops had received “Pajeros” from the PCSO during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, a Senate inquiry showed that the bishops had in fact merely received funds for the purchase of sports utility vehicles for use in their social and charity work. The PCSO has made it appear the transactions violate the separation of Church and State, but PCSO assistance has been extended to the churches and denominations, not alone the Catholic Church, since the 1987 Constitution was ratified.

The demolition job on the bishops shows Aquino’s vindictive streak, since it is the bishops who have actively opposed the RH bill and exposed the “jueteng” payoffs of his officials.

Although an economics graduate, Aquino does not have an economic program. His policy appears to be not to spend in order to avoid corruption. But he must realize that government should stop underspending on projects with long-term effects. He must realize that the state is not only longing for a zero-corruption government, but also for a progressive state.

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He was able to, at least, fulfill one of his earliest promises: “Walang wang wang!” But people nowadays are snickering that he would have no need for police sirens since he is either always late for his appointments or a no-show, as what has happened in key meetings of the National Disaster Coordinating Council during floods and storms.

On July 25, Aquino will again face the nation and report on the gains of his administration while glossing over its failures. Either way, he will again make promises. But the public, who fell for his promises the first time, are in no mood to be taken again for a ride.

4 COMMENTS

  1. We can be critical but have we really done our part?

    I understand that UST has been very critical towards the previous dispensation due to injustice, rampant and unabated corruption. Now, at least, PNoy is trying to check corruption. It is not easy given the culture of corruption permeating every institution in the government.

    As for the bishops, the problem is some bishops are more popish than the Pope. Just look at this bishop from Surigao who pontificates as if he were the cleanest human being alive on earth. Yes, other evangelical groups may have received help from PCSO but none of them displays this intellectual hyprocrisy and mental dishonesty being displayed by some bishops. Before CBCP finds fault with the Administration, it better cleanse its own ranks first. Not because one man wears the habit is a guarantee that he is righteous.

    Come on my fellow Thomasians. Despising some bishops does not mean despising the Catholic Church as an institution. No bishop is wearing the infaliibility that the Pope has when speaking Ex Cathedra.

  2. whatever message that the article tells its readers does not reflect the stand of the whole university.

    We should be open minded when we read newspaper articles.

  3. We totally agree with these three words. The President is lazy, vendictive and mediocre in leadership qualities. If he were otherwise, he would have dazzled us while he was in the senate. He is now totally out of control, digging out dirts from ten years past, even willing to sacrifice the most horrid of crimes just to satisfy his “revenge” to I don’t know who and I don’t know for what. He has freed criminals already perhaps just to discredit the past administration. His minions who are equally challenged in terms of governance, are now recentralizing everything in the name of fighting/preventing corruption. Almost everything now is stalled or moving at a very slow pace because the government employees are scared of doing new things without written clearance from the top. This year, I think we should start feeling the pinch from a slowed government. There will be less and less income trickling down the poor in the provinces.

  4. They deserve an apology from the president. It is affecting the ties fo the philippines to Hk , china. It can be the reason now why they are creating a misunderstanding by taking over spratly. that was not suppose to happen. i cant believe they waited until many have died before taking an action. They came here to enjoy but instead got traumatized from the incident.

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