• Aquino’s gift to the Philippines

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    Ben D. Kritz

    Ben D. Kritz

    Although I have been ferociously critical of President B.S. Aquino 3rd since before he could even legitimately add that word “President” to his calling cards I had a small epiphany the other night: He may be the greatest president this country has ever had.

    In his most recent State of the Noynoy, or rather Nation Address a couple of months ago, Aquino went off-script to spend some time musing in worried tones about what would become of his legacy after he’s gone, whether that inevitability arrives in mid-2016, mid-2022, or at some other point in the hazy future (he seems to have not quite decided when that will be yet).

    And while he was scored by some observers for making his report on the current status and prospects of the nation too personal, he was right to raise the question. We should all worry about whether or not his successor will properly follow the path he has laid out for this country.

    The value of some presidents throughout history, whether in this country or elsewhere, has only really revealed itself after the passage of time. South African reformer Nelson Mandela, for instance, was considered a basically inept, one-note head of government when he finally got his chance, but in his twilight years and since his death, it is generally recognized that he did, in fact, build a system with a certain amount of stability that has allowed South Africa to progress in tangible ways. Jimmy Carter was considered a bad joke for most of his one uncomfortable term in office in the United States, but since then has come to be regarded as one of America’s greatest statesmen; for one thing, his signature on a particular national security memo was—probably—the ‘small tap in just the right place’ that eventually brought down the Soviet Union. In the Philippines, the economic foundation laid by Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been widely acknowledged to have contributed to the country’s current growth potential, even though she was just as widely unpopular while in office.

    And B.S. Aquino’s own mother Cory, the first post-Marcos era president—okay, so there are some exceptions to the rule. Her heir, however, is not one of them, and the truly inspiring thing about him is he has managed to show his worth and the path the country should follow so early.

    B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is the raising of the level of political discourse and the standards against which candidates for public office, in particular the man or woman who will replace him, will be judged. Gone is the era in which campaigns are built around personalities and vapid motherhood statements like “uplifting the poor,” and “strengthening institutions,” and “not engaging in a level of plunder that the average Viking would consider excessive.”

    Instead, B.S. Aquino has introduced a new kind of politics, one in which personalities and platitudes can be completely ignored, and the candidates for the upcoming elections—the campaign for which has apparently already begun—can be assessed against a set of simple, objective standards. Instead of being reassured that the candidate “will continue the fight against corruption,” voters will now want to know if the candidate will rebuild the electricity sector so the lights stay on at a cost that is significantly less than the highest on the entire continent. Voters will now want to know if the candidate will be able to keep the cost of rice from nearly doubling in three years, instead of how committed he or she is to “transparency.” Voters will now want to hear a detailed plan for how the candidate intends to organize and carry out disaster response and recovery, rather than how deeply the candidate believes in “good governance.” Voters will want to be reassured that the candidate’s specific plan for infrastructure development will result in their no longer having to spend half a shift just getting to their place of employment. Some will want to know what the prospective president intends to do to develop a sensible paradigm for the safe and profitable harvesting of the country’s mineral resources, others will withhold investing their votes and their hard-earned money until they hear an effective plan to stop the real estate sector from running amok and putting the entire economy at considerable risk.

    B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is his monumental failure to effectively oversee the most basic responsibilities of the national government, to break down the needs of the country under the next administration to a simple level: Basic peace and security, the reliable supply and reasonable cost of essential food and utilities, a transportation infrastructure that poses less of a risk of bodily harm and which allows people and goods to move from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, business registration processes that take something less than several months to complete and involve something less than several dozen steps, and the reasonable assurance that one’s family will not be consigned to a lean-to made out of plywood and discarded vinyl advertising banners for a year or more after a natural or man-made disaster while a “czar” leads a committee in writing a book about it first.

    B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is to show the country, in terms so simple that even the most uninformed or disaffected voter could understand, that what the country really needs is a president who can simply do the job—actually identify needs and objectives, choose managers with obvious competence in their areas of responsibility, give them a practical and results-oriented strategy to follow, and hold them to acceptable standards of performance.

    As we get deeper into the “campaign season,” we should remember this gift, and not waste it.

    ben.kritz@manilatimes.net.

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    15 Comments

    1. Mr Kritz, as a foreigner you are a breath of fresh air compared to the other foreign, nakedly pro-BS and pro yellow globalization agents masquerading as as writers in our local society of pundits. Hope you don’t get deported, take care.

    2. I kept laughing at this sarcastic piece. Funny but true. In short, P-noy’s legacy that we will remember and truly learn from is that we should be wiser next timne to avoid a repeat of putting into the presidency a truly inept, lazy, bum leader that P-noy is.

    3. Sir, before you keep praising and patronizing BSAquino, tell him to have a strong political will to immediately relieve PNP Chief Gen. Purisima who is ineptly incompetent in arresting rising criminality in the country, break down of law and order where the criminals are the police themselves, DA Sec. Alcala whose corruption is affecting the high cost of prime commodities and the people are seriously suffering. and PAGCOR Chairman Naguiat who is giving away millions to the rich gambling owners. If he can do that I will believe he is a good leader so far otherwise he is just another politician protecting the oligarch , the rich and powerful .

      REPLY TO Kapitan Bagwis. Sir, you make comments without reading the whole piece. It is an attack against Aquino. A satire. Your mistake is you suddenly dash of your opinion without having read the whoe column. Kaya nga pipuri ng lahat ng mga anti Aquino people except you. PLease be more careful. Read the post and understand it, please, before making comments.

    4. Ben Kritz, you must be joking when you stated that BS Aquino may be “the greatest President this country has ever had”. Ha ha ha! What kind of weed have you been smoking Ben that your usual rational reasoning has gone crazy? If you mean BS Aquino is greatest in corrupt patronage politics, selective justice and incompetence, then I say you hit the nail on the head.

      • “Greatest President this country has ever had” because……

        and so the writer Mr Kritz enumerates…

        The use of the word “greatest” in this article means something else. The word in the context of the article means he is the greatest President who F___K___P. Because he could not even do the “basic” stuff that governments should be able to do.

        So next time even ordinary Pinoys would say, we want a President who is not a Great F___K ____P like BS Aquino.

    5. I hope that this would be read by the Yellow zombies and realize that everything they thought about that idiot in the palace was pure bullcrap.

    6. Let’s simplify this. Aquino just could not feel the pulse of his suffering constituents. All his actions since day one are more for his image and his political party than to care for the poor people.

    7. Actually, what you’re saying is what Prof. Carlos said recently. That: “never again must we elect a man president simply because his mother died yesterday.” There has to be more basic parameters that we (the voters) have to consider as most critical. The trauma the nation suffered with this machine-elected president should by now, have jolted us to the reality that voting for our officials is a crucial thing for the health and progress of the country. All the distressful things that are happening to us now would not have happened if we had a different man in Malacanang.

      • That would be good but the fact remains, no Filipino becomes President without the imprimatur of the US govt.

        Thats just the way it is.

        BS Aquino was put in place thru PCOS. If they actually count the ballots they would have found that Erap won the Presidency the 2nd time around. Not that I like that either. Let’s face it 90% of the population are poor and ignorant. You ask your driver, market vendor, maid etc and you’ll get the pulse of the masa – the real Filipinos. And they have voted 9 out of 10 for Erap and their votes were not counted.

        I wish Gibo will run again and he should be the one to be backed by the Elites. If they really want this country to prosper we should elect the right man for the job and not again another “shoe-salesman”.