For APEC, Mr. Aquino borrowed from Mrs. Marcos’ Potemkin tricks

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The manner by which Mr. Aquino and Mr. Marcos further enriched the rich was of two different strains. Mr. Marcos chose a set of favored oligarchs, gave them special business sectors that operated like monopolies, the competition token if not non-existent.

There was one group for food and beverage, one group for communications, one group for sugar, one group for cargo handling at the Manila ports and so forth and so on. Mr. Marcos also made sure old-line, blue-chip companies were moved into the hands of cronies. The media was under the control of less than a dozen people, the same cronies, the same names that controlled the other profitable economic sectors.

We still remember that the boycott of these crony firms was the last big anti-Marcos act of Mrs. Aquino before the breakout of the EDSA People Power revolt and her assumption of the presidency in February of 1986. She was in Cebu City to rally Central Visayans to the boycott efforts when the EDSA 1 crowd started massing up in front of the two camps, the iconic global event that ended the Marcos rule. Mrs. Zobel and a private plane picked her up at the Cebu City airport tarmac and whisked her to safety at the height of the EDSA chaos. I know. I was with a pack of reporters that sent her off to the airport. She even asked for a photo-ops with the “regulars” – the reporters assigned to cover the snap elections and its aftermath.

But the plutocrats and oligarchs did not go away with the democratic restoration in 1986. They just got richer, more so under the Aquino 2nd administration.


Mr. Aquino’s enrich-the-rich policies are of a different tack. He just let those with awesome capital dominate with their bigness and reach. There was no set of cronies. whoever was big and in a position to dominate was tolerated. Then, he cleverly promoted the PPP –centric approach in infrastructure modernization to make sure that only a few names, the corporate giants, would dominate the multi-billion peso tenders that the PPP would bid out.

No one complains about “crony-capitalism” now because rules seem to be fair. Even parachuting foreign business writers are impressed, taking the cue from Mr. Aquino’s most ardent admirers, the Davos Crowd. But the truth is the bedrock of Mr. Aquino’s economic doctrine is Randian market-worship that gives no chance whatsoever to the small and medium-scale enterprises to hit their stride and compete at even terms with the giant corporate entities. The extensive discussions in the APEC sessions on SMEs interested Mr. Aquino only superficially.

The benign face of “favor-the-rich capitalism” under Mr. Aquino differs only from Mr. Marcos’s in the sense that Mr. Marcos handpicked specific cronies to favor and bless while Mr. Aquino favored everybody who was deemed big and dominant, regardless of the names. Still, we get the same results.

But there is one area where Mr. Aquino knowingly and deliberately channels the practices of the “Imeldific.” This is on how to present Metro Manila to foreign visitors, on how to show the “ good and beautiful “ – Mrs. Marcos’s own words – side of the country’s capital and hide the areas of permanent blight, desperation and grimness.

How? Turn the grimness of Metro Manila, the dark and ugly side, into spruced-up-for-the-occasion Potemkin Villages.

Mr. Aquino did not exactly build temporary facades to hide the grimness of the squatter colonies, the areas of blight and urban despair. Neither did he order the spray-painting of shanties to make them look like decent communities.

What he did was to round up the beggars and street people begging and squatting near the APEC areas. Those “cleared” were then housed in temporary sanctuaries, with free board and lodging up to the time the last APEC visitor was out.

The stories on how they were rounded up and forcibly taken into temporary shelters under the supervision of the DSWD and the City of Manila spilled into prime-time TV – naturally. Such real stories get more audience traction than all the big issues , the West Philippine Sea dispute included, that the APEC leaders took up. An old man about my age, paralyzed from wait down, was distraught after they hauled him off to Boys Town without his grimy but dependable wheelchair. He was pushed around by the reed-thin wife, a struggle, in a monobloc chair. Was he aware that the APEC was about the debut into big-time international organizing by the well-fed, Zegna-suited men of the Aquino administration?

Probably not. He just wanted his dammed wheelchair and his freedom to roam the Manila streets to beg.

Human Rights Watch Asia did notice the “mass arrests” of the beggars and street people, however, and strongly condemned the Imeldific overstretch of the Aquino people.

HRW Asia said :” Philippine authorities have violated the rights of hundreds of Manila residents to put a cynical veneer of cleanliness on the city for the APEC delegates.”

Putting a cynical veneer of cleanliness and order over vast swaths of grimness in the city was done before, the dry run. Remember the papal visit? Putting the best foot forward under the Aquino administration was no different from the approach during the Marcos time.

How true. How sad. And how Imeldific.

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8 Comments

  1. Hiyang-hiya sa kahirapan ng mga Filipino, kaya itinago.

    Merong kuwento ng isang mayamang pamilya na itinago ang isang miyembro ng pamilya dahil ito raw ay “special child”. Meron namang isang mayamang pamilya na meron ding isang “special child” na hindi nila ikinahiya ang bata, at bagkus, inilantad pa sa madla – at maging sa media.

    Sana ganun din ang administrasyon sa kanyang mga pulubi. Ilantad niyo sila, at sa kasalukuyang kalakaran na wala naman silang nagagawa para tumulong, baka sakaling ang ibang mga bansang makakakita sa kanila ay makatulong pa.

  2. because of the ignorancy of the people perpetrated by the oligarchs yellow noytards lead by Aquino government and his business associates, kaklase, kaibigan na siyang nagpayaman para sa kanilang self interest at hindi sa bayang filipino. Mas maigi pa ang mga marcoses makatao at para sa mahirap ang kanilang serbisyo. Ikaw at si abnoy pinocchio, saan ang serbisyo ninyo sa mga elitistang nagpapahirap sa taong bayan, tulad lang mga workers na wala ng regularization. mabuti nalang at may PD para sa 13 months pay ay hindi tinanggal ni devil corykong.. kay marcos itong benepisyo na ito at hindi sa Aquino administration. SALOT sa mamayang Filipino ang Aquino at ang kanyang mga kaalyado sa Pilipinas.. GISING PILIPINAS. KUNG FILIPINO KA DAPAT MAY PAKIALAM KA..

  3. Mr. Ronquillo I admire your wits of comparison. If you invite a guest to come to your house do you do any house cleaning? Or you just leave it as is.If your politicians government employees does not rob (kawat) the peoples money maybe we will have the resource to make poor people better. We dont try to hide them. Please Mr. Ronqui llo I beg of you please expose all political kawatans inyou daily collumn you will do a great service to the filipinos.If a filipino FARTS dont blame Mr. Aquino.

    • Of course, Mr. Ronquillo would clean up his own if he expects visitors. But your analogy comparing an ordinary house to a society is laughable. In the house, you don’t keep your old or children away. You let them participate to receive the guests. What the government did was to forcibly evict the poor like an eye-sore. If our society is a house and the government is the father and mother, would they have locked their children inside the maid’s quarter to show that their sala and rooms are neat, clean and decent? I bet you do that to your family members. What a Shame!

    • i say don’t compare a simple house cleaning with cleaning the city streets of poor and oppressed people. There is a big difference between the two. Simple or general house cleaning does not involved people, it deals with inanimate things getting rid of dirt and dust inside the house or building while getting rid of people from the city streets is not right, they aren’t dirt or dust, you violated their human rights, you violated people with feelings, you committed wrong doings against human lives. Life is precious, in fact all lives are precious. Didn’t you know that? As St Therese of Lisieux says, “I’ll spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” So do good to people. And more thing, Mr Ronquillo is not the NBI, DOJ or PNP to know who are the kawatans of this present administration. He is not duty bound to know all sonafabitches of this Aquino administration. Is that clear?

  4. kung mag-criticize ang opposition dati laban sa Marcos administration at kay Imelda ay akala mo kung sinong napaka-concerned sa mga taga-squatters at mahihirap. iyon pala, nung nakaupo na sa Malacanang ang political enemies ni Marcos ay ginaya rin nila ang ginawa ni Imelda at mas grabe pa ang ginawa ngayon.