Aquino’s failings: Not just his fault, but ours, too

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If a company hires a CEO who has never run even a small business all his life, and did not even distinguish himself in policy deliberations with other business people, whose fault is it if the chief executive screws up?

Or worse: What if shareholders applaud the boss even when he plays fast and loose with company by-laws, abets incompetent and anomalous golfing buddies in the firm, and gives generous bonuses to board directors after they voted out the vice-chairman who pointed out the chair’s violations?

Is it then just the head honcho to blame if he proceeds to repeatedly break corporate rules, play favorites with the executives, and raid the treasury with no regard for the board-approved investment and expenditure plan?

If you are thinking that this scenario is an allegory for the current administration, you’re absolutely right. President Benigno Aquino 3rd would not have betrayed the public trust as much as he has if the public, especially mainstream media, weren’t so trusting and even fawning, swallowing the hype against common sense and contradictory actions.


From grieving son to president
Perhaps it was understandable that a nation mourning democracy icon Corazon Aquino would believe that his son, grieving with dignity on national TV, would uphold her avowed ideals of democracy and good governance.

Still, the more seasoned watchers of government should have known that funeral goodwill and illustrious forebears are no guarantee of presidential ability, especially when the grieving scion had shown no great achievement in school, business or Congress, and no interest in the presidency before his mother’s death.

During the campaign, Aquino declined forums in which his fellow candidates expounded on issues. In those debates, it was his cousin, former Defense Secretary and Tarlac Representative Gilbert Teodoro, who usually won straw polls conducted among those who heard the speakers.

Ominously, while other presidentiables accepted the Supreme Court decision allowing then-President Gloria Arroyo to appoint the next Chief Justice, Aquino openly opposed it and snubbed her chosen CJ Renato Corona. Even before he had won, Aquino was already willing to take on the High Court and its head.

Cronies and contraband
Understandably too, the public welcomed the Aquino administration with high hopes and the benefit of the doubt. So when he failed to take command during the Luneta hostage crisis in his second month as president, the public accepted his tack of not letting top officials handle the incident, even though Arroyo-era Cabinet members had successfully defused far bigger threats with hardly any loss of life, including the Oakwood mutiny involving 300 heavily armed rebel troops.

Both nation and media also quickly forgot Aquino’s refusal to investigate his shooting buddy Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno over Pangasinan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz’s direct accusation of receiving jueteng payoffs.

The short memory continued with Malacañang trashing the DOJ’s Luneta crisis incident report and its recommended sanctions against Puno, then-Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, and senior police officials, roiling relations with Beijing and Hong Kong.

After Puno, there were more instances of Aquino failing to discipline and even defending the so-called Kakampi, Kaklase at Kabarilan (KKK) clique of close associates. Among other controversies dismissed with little or no investigation were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s reported P40-million White Plains mansion, Political Adviser Ronaldo Llamas’s firearms and pirate video incidents, and gaming czar Cristino Naguiat’s Macau junket and the P400-million casino loss in state casinos in May 2011.

None of that affected Aquino’s ratings, as mainstream media never pursued KKK issues, partly reflecting the public’s own disinterest. Filipinos also shrugged when more than 2,000 uninspected and untaxed containers disappeared in transit between Manila and other ports in 2011.

That was the biggest surge of contraband in the country ever, boosting estimated smuggling under Aquino to $19 billion a year in 2011 and 2012, over six times the average in the Estrada and Arroyo administrations, according to International Monetary Fund trade data.

Congress and the courts
At least KKK cronyism and containerized contraband left democratic institutions intact. But the assault on the independence of Congress, constitutional bodies, and the courts undermined our Republican system’s checks and balances and the separation of powers.

As early as late 2010, the Palace already threatened to impound legislators’ pork barrel funds if there were problems in passing the national budget. That same tactic was used to push the bill postponing the 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and empowering the President to appoint ARMM officials.

Aquino also harangued then-Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for allegedly failing to prosecute former president Arroyo. With promised releases of their Priority Development Assistance Funds, the House impeached her, leading to the resignation of the constitutionally independent official.

The courts, too, felt pressure from the Palace. Just months into his rule, Aquino meddled in the mutiny case against Senator Antonio Trillanes and other rebel soldiers in the Oakwood mutiny. And after spats with the Supreme Court over decisions he didn’t like, Aquino campaigned for then-Chief Justice Corona’s removal, allegedly using PDAF as well as the Disbursement Acceleration Program to induce the House to impeach and the Senate to convict.

The trusting public finally awakes
With his trust, approval and satisfaction ratings staying high despite such actuations, it’s no surprise if Aquino and his allies felt they could get away with something as blatantly unconstitutional as taking funds from budgeted programs and projects and channeling them to unbudgeted PAPs, as the Supreme Court has ruled. The same Palace confidence in public approval despite failings in law, may also be behind the speedy forging of the Bangsamoro pact and the US security agreement.

And having intimidated or ousted opponents in cohort with Congress, the President may yet believe that they could repeat the feat with the current Supreme Court led by his chosen Chief Justice. They may also think that the citizenry, having believed in Aquino through all those controversies and excesses, would trust in his word again.

The latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys, which do not even reflect much of the DAP decision fallout, suggest that nearly half of Filipinos are no longer so trusting. That proportion has likely swung into a majority who doubt or disbelieve the President, now that the Supreme Court’s July 1 ruling has been more widely deliberated since the SWS survey ended on June 30 and Pulse Asia’s poll on July 2.

Of course, Filipinos could again regain trust in Aquino and forget about DAP, as they did to past controversies. Then it would only show that Aquino’s governance failings are ours as well.

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10 Comments

  1. richard abadilla on

    You failed to mention DTI where some of the biggest incompetents are enjoying the perks of their position: DTI’s “Gregory” Domingo who is actually “Gregorio” and Chucky Manalo, both enjoying western monickers. Both supposedly worked for big firms in the U.S. and hence, do not have any inkling as to how to help out the small and medium firms in our country. Both kowtow to the big guns in our country, hoping to use their positions as a platform to find jobs after this administration is gone. Just look at the recent composition of Presidential Business Delegations, all filled with big guns but if some small and medium scale CEOs are included, then it was just an afterthought. Talking about perks and the use of public funds, these two, in particular, travel incessantly to various countries, ostensibly to promote the economic interests of the country and, they are not held accountable for the zero output of their travels (because FMS in DTI is in cahoots with them?). If PNoys travels overseas are scrutinized for its use of public funds, why not these two? Kaiskwela kasi! Do they bring home any bacon when they travel overseas or the fruits of their shopping spree for things intrinsic to the country (i.e., kobe beef). Hope COA looks into this.

  2. richard abadilla on

    You failed to mention DTI and some of the biggest crooks of them all, in the malversation or misuse of public funds. The “kaklase” in this agency are of course DTI ‘s Gregorio Domingo, who prefers to use the first name “Gregory” and his buddy, the recently appointed Chucky Manalo who is now, without the knowledge of Pnoy and Mar Roxas, kissing the ass of VP Binay. These two travel together for no reason at all to different parts of the world, aside from their desire to be together at all times, and in the pretext that they are out there to woo investors with the same old line that it is best to invest in the Philippines. If the public gets to scrutinize how much the President spends each time he goes out of the country, then DTI should also be compelled to reveal how much of public taxes is spent every time these two crooks, who simply gallivant when they are overseas (and in local areas too) and who simply reinforce each other’s statements in front of potential investors who are turned off and do not invest in the Philippines. Do they bring home the bacon or the items intrinsic to the country (Kobe beef, etc.) that they buy in their shopping sprees overseas?

  3. Thanks for the enlightening article. The lesson we learn is to always be vigilant of our government since it is governed by incompetent, vindictive and violator of our Constitution, A-BAD and DRILON PUPPET with no brain of his own, SPOILED, STUBBORN JUVENILE.

    PLEASE, EXPOSE MORE OF PNOY’s DICTATORSHIP. He is trashing the legacy of his father BENIGNO AQUINO II, who died fighting against Marcos’s tyranny.

  4. Roldan Guerrero on

    ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES! Kahit ABNOY o BALIW pwedeng maging presidente. This must a big lesson for every Filipinos. We must base our choice on accomplishments they did in their track record of public service. Performance shows who you are. What can Aquino brag about his long.long 9 years as a congressman and 3 yrs as a senator? Was it a TRUST tha catapulted him in power or the POWER of HUKOS PICOS? Until now I could not imagine how come he became President of this Republic.

  5. victor m. hernandez on

    Of course, it’s the people who choose their president. But we’re stuck with him for 6 years, whether you or I did not vote for him The only thing we can do is to whine, complain, rally, or just pull our hair until we are all kalbo and blue in the face. We’ll just have to think hard again who the next set of gangsters we wil hoose to lead us for the next 6 years from 2016. I just hope we will not be as stupid as last presidential election.

  6. OH MY PHILIPPINES… i’m now a senior citizens and politic still the same… weather weather lang yan, barka barkada.. now they are forming again to sing.. HAIL HAIL THE GANGS ALL HERE… it is NO LONGER FUNNY IN THE PHILIPPINES!
    blame the church too…

  7. Yes. I admit I voted for Aquino and now I admit it was a big mistake. I thought he was honest and he was experienced. But it did bother me that he never had any organization management experience. I did buy into the straight path line and thought he could help get rid of the corruption.

    Slowly at first I began to see the incompetence but I always balanced this with his honesty and his reliance on his help. But the half-truths and lies came more and more. Excuses for bending and breaking the systems and the laws were explaned as necessary because it was good for Filpinos. I now realize that his only management skill is that of bribing to get his way.

    It also dawned on me that his promise of FOI, is meant as not FOI for him, but passed so that the next President will have to open up to the public. He cannot stand FOI for him because he would have to tell the truth and explain things honestly.

    So yes my assessment of him has changed. He is honest in not stealing money from government for himself. But he is dishonest in enabling others to feast upon the peoples money. He has tried to make stealing money legal. There is no plan to make the Philippines a better place. I cannot wait to get to 2016 and see him leave.

  8. But the filipino will continue to vote for the wrong people. You watch manny pacquiao get elected if he runs for a senator. His popularity with the people of this country will ensure he gets elected. So i do blame the people for their countries woes. You wouldnt hire a blind man as your chaufer, well some of your voters might & until they understand the importance of voting for the right person not the person they like the most then nothing will change in this country.

  9. I totally agree with you Ricardo – Saludo ako sa iyo.

    We tolerated a Brat.

    The Survey/Media painted a rosy pictures to this “Spoiled Brat” – Lumaki ang olo.

    Hindi bumababa ang rating niya sa Survey – why?

    Mabuti na lang – The Manila Times Columnist are exposing it, otherwise we know nothing about what is going on in our own yard.

    Mabuhay ang “Manila Times” at ang mga “Columnist”.

    Please, continue the good work for the sake of the Filipino People.

  10. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Exactly, if there are people to blame for the present corrupt state that the country
    has now, it is us Filipino people ourselves to blame in the first place. For as electorate
    we never learn our lesson from the past. We put cory aquino to the presidency
    knowing fully well that she has no qualification at all. We plucked her into office
    thinking that she can do better than Marcos. What happened? Icon of democracy
    as what the yellow fanatics are saying? What icon? Had it not been for Enrile and
    Ramos who treacherously turned their back against Marcos can anyone think that
    cory aquino was able to ascend herself to the presidency. I don’t think so. But, anyway
    was she able to accomplish something good and visible for the country then. During
    her campaign she said that she cannot then promise anything. That’s why to my
    recollection, she did NOTHING. Again her grieving son abnoy, us filipinos voted
    this imcompetent abnoy mainly because of the throng of yellow fanatics who
    troop to cory’s burial. In short he was voted into office mainly because of the so
    sympathetic yellow’s. What happended? As we witness now, this abnoy turned
    himself to be the most corrupt president, the Philippines has ever had. If you want
    proof, what he and abad did about the DAP was declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
    In short, HE VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION. This is the kind of president that
    filipinos revere, AN INCOPETENT, VINDICTIVE, CORRUPT PRESDIDENT.