I do not begrudge President B. S. Aquino 3rd his right to enjoy himself in Chicago and Canada, given the awful time he’s been having with us here at home. Free from the ridicule, insults and angry words that have been his daily fare since 44 Special Action Forces police commandos under his command were massacred by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. on Jan. 25, 2015, he deserves a few moments away from his critics where he could spin stories about himself without being mocked by anyone in the audience. I thought he was entitled to this, just as a sea bird caught in a storm is entitled to seek refuge in a crevice upon the rock surface.
The three-mile rule
As a political critic, I have tried to observe what I call the three-mile rule, which is never to criticize the government or its political leaders whenever I have gone beyond the three-mile cannon-range from shore. After I left the Marcos Cabinet in 1980, following ten years of service, I was invited by Asia Society to give a speech in New York. My friends in Manila and other political leaders expected me to mount a two-fisted attack against Marcos. They were sorely disappointed that I did not. Similarly, when Aquino is out of range, we owe it to him, to the nation and to ourselves, to observe a moratorium on our regular tirade. I was, therefore, ready to forego all criticism of PNoy until he returns from abroad.
A necessary response
However, while in Chicago, PNoy said a few things which invite a quick response. He told his Filipino audience that since 2010 he has “transformed” the Philippines from “the sick man of Asia” into “the darling of Asia,” and that,“you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Indeed, our casino economy has exploded as Manila rivals Las Vegas and Macau as the gambling capital of the world. But manufacturing is dead, agriculture is dying, and the only jobs being created for Filipinos are either in the call centers or overseas.
The vaunted economic growth has done nothing for the poor. The oligarchy has grown so much bigger, and the poor so much poorer. For all this, nobody has called us the “sick man of Asia” except those who wanted to claim that because of them the country had become a “tiger”–which it hasn’t. Similarly, nobody is calling us “the darling of Asia” except for Aquino who has coined the term to support his claim of “unparalleled achievements.”
What are these achievements? He did not elaborate. Apart from the questionable economic development, the moral order is all shot. The constitutional order and the rule of law are a mess. Corruption is getting out of control as the administration’s effort to raise a huge war chest for 2016 escalates. The record will bear that by physically bribing the members of Congress, which no president had ever done before, Aquino was able to:
• force the passage of the patently immoral and unconstitutional Reproductive Health Law, to the delight of the Obama administration and the global population controllers;
• impeach and remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, who might have stood in the way of his unconstitutional control the three branches of government;
• siphon off at least P240 billion from the General Appropriations Act into unlegislated programs of his own, through Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court subseuently declared unconstitutional;
• impose one-man rule without declaring martial law or emergency rule but simply by usurping the vital powers of Congress and intimidating the Judiciary by threatening SC justices with possible impeachment, a la Corona, if they do not toe the line;
• ignore the Supreme Court’s express directive to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the manipulation and misuse of the DAP and the Priority Development Assistance Fund;
• escape the impeachment process despite his having committed so many impeachable offenses, simply by keeping the members of Congress, which alone has the power to impeach and try the President, under his thumb and committed to protect and defend his interests.
Adversarial media abolished
By making the owners and principal gatekeepers of Big Media part of the official power structure, PNoy and the oligarchy succeeded in abolishing the adversarial relationship between media and the government, as far as the mainstream commercial media are concerned. This allowed the conscript media to exercise what the British Prime Stanley Baldwin once called, in reference to the media moguls on Fleet Street, “power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” The citizens had to turn to the non-conformist mosquito press—notably the Times, the Standard, and the Daily Tribune—and the social media for an independent view of government and the world.
Destroying the opposition
With the jailing of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jingjoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. on corruption charges, PNoy succeeded in abolishing the last semblance of nominal opposition in the Senate. What remains is but a small “independent” minority in the House of Representatives. Although the three senators had cooperated with Aquino in removing Corona as chief justice, their continued presence in the Senate seemed too much for PNoy; they had to be jailed even before they could be tried or convicted. The same with former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who remains in jail without trial, despite her failing health. This was one achievement PNoy was proud to share with his Chicago audience.
No more prosecution
But there was no mention of his having avoided the prosecution of his political allies in Congress and the Cabinet who are deeply involved in the same pork barrel mess. After months on end of promising to file the appropriate charges against pro-Aquino senators and congressmen who had misused the DAP and the PDAF, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima finally announced there would be no such prosecution anymore.
With the sentencing to life imprisonment of Janet Lim Napoles on illegal detention charges, there is very little chance we would be hearing anymore about those involved in the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam, of which she was supposed to have been the mastermind, and which became the basis of the charges against the three opposition senators.
Indeed, this promises to be one of the most outstanding achievements of PNoy’s “daang matuwid.”
And yet he had the courage to tell his Canada audience, as reported by one well-known Aquino mouthpiece, “I’m confident that like in 1986, and in 2010, come 2016, you’ll be there to carry on what we’ve started. Our goal is not to go back to the rotten system, but to continue our country’s transformation… Surely even the next administration will reap what we’ve sown, that is if the straight path doesn’t turn crooked, and if you pick the right leaders as you (did) in 2010.”
Believing his own propaganda
From this, one can see that one of PNoy’s greatest achievements is his ability to believe in his own propaganda, long after everybody else has nixed it. Since August of last year, the National Transformation Council has been calling on PNoy to step down and allow a process of national transformation to take place. In Chicago, PNoyclaimed to have already brought about such “transformation.” How incredible indeed.
PNoy cannot possibly not know that his so-called “straight path” has already been junked as a fraud, that even his own legitimacy is now held in serious doubt. An increasing number of Filipinos now regard him as a de facto president, at the head of a de facto government. The precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine itself, which played a central role in the 2010 and 2013 elections, has lost its right to participate in the 2016 elections.
One of PNoy’s biggest recent achievements is his having successfully ignored the public demand for accountability for the death of the 44 SAF commandos, who were massacred by the combined forces of the MILF and the BIFF, after he had ordered the reinforcement units to stand down. Several inquiries were conducted into the massacre, first by the Philippine National Police, then by the Senate, then by the House. But not one of them ever dared to inquire into the “stand-down” order or into PNoy’s actual conduct during the tragic operation. That, indeed, is a phenomenal achievement.
Success with China
In foreign affairs, his biggest success is in having avoided a shooting war with China despite his unilateral effort to make the Philippines a “frontline state” against China’s rise in the Asia-Pacific, and despite his bellicose statements against the Asian giant every time he opens his mouth on our maritime dispute. In defense of a few disputed shoals, islets and reefs in the Spratlys, PNoy has shown extreme eagerness to go to war against China, perhaps to the last American, while resisting every suggestion to invoke the country’s rights over Sabah, which has been made part of the Federation of Malaysia, over and above the protest of the Philippine government.
For all the wonderful things PNoy believes he is doing for the country, he is scoffed at by ingrates who do not appreciate their luck in having him as their president. Thus he complained to the JW Marriott crowd: “I get blamed for a heavy downpour, and for heavy traffic on EDSA. I get blamed even for Manny Pacquiao’s recent loss.”
This is not exactly correct. Some people may have blamed Manny Pacquiao for wearing bright yellow trunks at his fight with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, trunks as bright as PNoy’s yellow necktie at Marriott. But they fault PNoy for many other things. Many have noted as many major disasters during his watch as there were during his late mother Cory’s, but people don’t blame him for the calamities per se. They blame him for his uniformly slow response and lack of heart for the victims. Yolanda was epic.
As for the EDSA traffic, PNoy has long immortalized his quote about traffic being a sign of progress, so the only time he had EDSA cleared as when he banned all possible protesters from marching on it. I have a six-year-old grandson who wants to be president because he wants to fix the EDSA traffic; this is the least a sitting president should want to do while in office.
Apparently, PNoy’s stopover in Chicago was a huge success from a certain perspective, for we heard the City Mayor Rahm Emmanuel praising him for his “campaign against corruption,” and one obvious sycophant posting the question, “ Is this good government going to continue?” Still, PNoy seems to believe that at the end of the day, he would end up in jail—just as his grandfather and father ended in jail. His grandfather was incarcerated at the Sugamo Prison in Tokyo for collaborating with the Japanese during the war but died of a heart attack while watching a boxing match at the Rizal Stadium before he could be tried for treason, while his father Ninoy was jailed during martial law on charges related to national security.
His only wish, PNoy said, is that if he were to end up in jail, he should at least be jailed at the Fort in Taguig, with all its amenities. I have no wish to see PNoy in jail after he leaves Malacañang. But I would advise him to be very very careful about what he prays for. The good Lord might be listening.