AT a time when the public demand for efficient government service is growing amid worsening traffic situation, rising prices of consumer products, and apparently increasing criminality, the least we expect from our leaders are words of uncertainty.
We need directions. We need decisive actions. We need improvements that are visible as we go around, not just growing numbers in statistical data.
We need to see public officials showing good examples instead of red-plate cars with motorcycle escorts overtaking us on congested roads. We need to see convictions in cases involving overpricing of consumer goods. We need to see criminals not just being charged in court but also being sent to jail and getting conviction instead of acquittal on technical grounds.
We have to see traffic enforcers directing traffic flow in the streets, not pot-bellied cops mulcting errant drivers. We need law enforcers who enforce and not break the law.
We need a leader who makes plain, clear, unambiguous, undisputable, undeniable and unmistakable statements, not one who beats around the bush and keeps people guessing what he truly means.
Two weeks ago, President Benigno Aquino 3rd candidly admitted in an exclusive interview with TV5 resident counsel Mel Sta. Maria that he had a change of heart on the issue of amending the Constitution following the Supreme Court’s adversarial ruling that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was partly unconstitutional.
It was easy to understand given his passionate defense of the DAP that facilitated implementation and completion of a number of infrastructure projects and social service programs under the scheme.
What complicated the issue was his response to the question about lifting the single, six-year term limit for the president under the Constitution.
“Nung pinasukan ko ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years. Ngayon, after having said that, siyempre and mga boss ko, kailangan kong pakinggan ‘yon,” the President said in the TV5 interview.
While he clarified: “Hindi naman ibig sabihin na automatic na hahabol pa ako na magkaroon pa ako ng dagdag dito, ‘no?” He said that he wanted to consult the people on a crucial question: “How do we ensure the reforms we began will become permanent?”
The short but vague statements have kept tongues wagging.
Does he want to stay in power forever like his predecessors, except his mother who was counting the years, months and days to the end of her six-year term?
It raised serious doubts on the President’s credibility. And incongruous statements from his spokespersons further blurred the lines.
Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th appear to be doing a better job at defending the President against his critics than those tasked and paid with taxpayers’ money to expound and defend the President from tirades.
The statement via text of Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda to Palace reporters last week that “the President has neither decided on term extension nor endorsing a candidate” had sent the rumor mill grinding again.
Days before that, Drilon tried to put an end to the issue, saying that speculating about the President seeking a second term was like beating a dead horse because the Palace had clarified that it would not push Constitutional amendments before the 2016 elections.
But Lacierda’s statement about a “term extension” fuelled another speculation that the President was mulling the idea of staying in power without benefit of an election.
Lacierda’s follow up statement that the “2016 elections will push through” whether the President decides on term extension or endorsing a candidate failed to clarify the issue.
The President and his talking heads may have simply been trying to confuse the enemy. It may be an art of war that does not seem to be effective in getting public support, or keeping the support that the administration already has.
Based on their public statements, even some of the most loyal allies of the President are as confused as many ordinary mortals on this issue.
House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. said: “I’ve never heard from the President or from anybody who really speaks for the President. All I hear are opinions of everybody saying this, saying that, that he wants to run, that he doesn’t want to run, or that they want to amend the Constitution by allowing him to run again.”
“All of these are just speculations, all of these are just a lot of hot air, It’s only when the President actually tells me, then that’s when I’ll understand that there’s really such a move. At the moment, there’s nothing to talk about because there’s just a lot of hot air going on,” Belmonte explained.
The President does not have time to talk to each of us to say clearly what he really meant and wants to do. Factionalism in his backyard, particularly in his communications group, is making the situation worse with their conflicting and confusing public statements.
We need leaders who can provide us clear directions to the “tuwid na daan.” We need leaders who are united in confronting issues that plague economic, political and social development.
Sadly, none among the many opposition groups vying for office in 2016 has presented a better alternative. Most of them have shown their skills in criticizing, but have actually done worse when they were in power.
I have always advocated exercising the right to vote, but the aspirants in the 2016 elections give me reason to abandon it.