Despite everything I have already said on the subject, I have been asked by anxious friends to elaborate further, if I can, on why I believe President B. S. Aquino 3rd should step down now, “two years before the end of his term.”
It is not everyday that one asks a president to step down, so this is but a fair and just request. But since very little has changed from the time I first raised this issue, I may not be able to completely avoid repeating myself.
I will limit myself to just four main reasons.
The first reason or set of reasons is that Aquino has committed unconscionable crimes against the Constitution which no president before him had. These have caused manifest injury to the Filipino people, beyond the present generation. He has become completely impeachable on all the grounds provided in the Constitution, but the Congress, which has the power and the duty to impeach and remove the President, is now a virtual appendage and tool of his office.
I have already dwelt on this before, and I see no need to repeat anything except to underline the fact that his series of unpunished crimes has completely destroyed the constitutional order in favor of a lawless and unaccountable regime, minimized only by its bungling incompetence. It has abolished all distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, legal and illegal, and installed the wicked rule of “I am in power and you are not.”
Second, he has shown not only a total lack of competence to run government but also a total lack of awareness of his appalling incompetence, resulting in a state of absolute dysfunction and disorder where nothing at all works anymore but where he alone seems not to know about it or is undisturbed by it.
Third, a growing number of Filipinos have come to believe that he was not at all legitimately elected in 2010, but was simply processed into office by the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic, using the precinct count optical scan machines, which had been illegally divested of their safety features and accuracy mechanisms by the Comelec. He is, in effect, a pretender, a de facto president.
Fourth, it would be good for the nation and the Filipino people to see this bogus pretender booted out. It would allow the National Transformation Council (NTC) to repair what is broken before the next national elections are held, hopefully under radically altered circumstances.
Of these four reasons, I have already lengthily discussed the first, even before the Lipa and Cebu Declarations expounded on it, so I shall no longer discuss it here. In this column, I shall discuss the second reason, and leave the third and the fourth for my next pieces.
So let me begin by asking the reader if anything under the care, management or supervision of the Aquino government still works. Does one overstate his case when he says that whereas King Midas mythically transformed everything he touched into gold, Aquino transmogrified everything he touched into the cheapest metal? Indeed, does anything under his administration still work?
For starters, let us talk of the Manila traffic. This used to be merely a city problem; the Aquino government’s unparalleled incompetence has turned it into a daily nightmare of the national government, as the slightest rain floods various parts of the metropolis, drives away the traffic enforcers, and creates the worst imaginable gridlocks.
On Oct. 1, while a multisectoral assembly in Cebu called on the NTC National to pursue all necessary and available lawful means to compel Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time, and to immediately organize an ‘alternative government’, composed of men and women of integrity and proven worth, to assure the nation that Aquino’s removal and the prosecution and imprisonment of all government officials who have committed acts of corruption “will not create a political vacuum,” the whole of EDSA in Metro Manila became one huge parking lot, and some people had to leave their drivers on the road and walked home to avoid spending the night on the road.
The next day I flew home from Cebu on a scheduled 1:50 pm flight that left Mactan at 2:45 pm and arrived in NAIA at 4 pm. I had to crawl along EDSA on my way home to Quezon City, but after two-and-a half hours I had not gotten past Ortigas, so I had to stop by a friendly coffeeshop at the Podium to be able to beat my 6:30 pm editorial deadline at the Times. I succeeded in sending my email using the SM Wifi, but as soon I had sent out my column, the Internet went out and did not come back until much later.
While the motorists bore the pains of hell on the road, non-motorized commuters endured worse torments queuing along the sidewalk on both sides of the road, waiting for a bus or jeep that came only after an eternity, or lining up the steps leading to the ill-maintained MRT, which Rigoberto Tiglao has been writing about on this page, and which could fall into pieces anytime.
There has been no relief since for the motorists on EDSA, or for the commuters on the sidewalks or on the steps leading to the MRT. If you are a car owner, you can no longer park your car anywhere for free. If you are going out of Manila, you will have to pay a toll on almost every road you use, because these are no longer for free. Before the national budget got over-bloated with lump-sums that went inside the politicians’ pockets, roads and bridges were known as “public goods,” which the government provided the citizens for free, in return for the taxes they paid. The government still bleeds the citizens for their tax money, even at the expense of the good name of BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, but it has sold almost every public good to the private sector, which now bleeds the public for their use.
So what exactly do you get from this government? Aside from the political humbug from its juvenile president and his sycophants, you get nothing but inefficiency and incompetence heaped upon inefficiency and incompetence. This began with the August 23, 2010 hijacking of a tourist bus at the very heart of Manila, where eight Hong Kong tourists were killed during the clearly incompetent rescue operations by the police; this soured relations between Manila and Hong Kong (and to an extent Beijing) after Aquino refused to apologize for the incident.
Now, on Nov. 8, 2013, super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the strongest typhoon that ever made a landfall anywhere, flattened Tacloban and battered the rest of Eastern Visayas. The entire international community responded with dispatch to this calamity, sending men, money, ships, planes and supplies to help in the massive rescue and relief effort. But Aquino and his secretary of interior and local governments Mar Roxas spent the best part of their lives during the first hours of that emergency trying to blame the city government for failing to dodge the typhoon, and trying to exempt the national government from any responsibility of responding to it.
This prompted CNN to wonder where the national leadership was at that time of crisis, and to ask Aquino, in an interview, whether that kind of performance would define his government. An entire year will have passed in a few days, during which the Aquino government will have received a considerably large but undisclosed sum of money from foreign governments and institutions, but nothing substantial has gone to the victims. In fact, Aquino has not even approved the proposed rehabilitation master plan for Tacloban, assuming he has in fact read it.
Recently, Aquino went on a five-nation European-American tour, purportedly to invite tourists and investors to the Philippines. Yet Manila’s premier airport, named after his late father Ninoy Aquino, has become the worst airport in the world without any competition from any source, and is doing everything to make this distinction permanent.
The port of Manila is in no better condition. A trucking ban stopped the loading and unloading of cargo for months on end, causing such a congestion in the harbor, which stopped the traffic of people and goods through the port. Smuggling is rampant, but instead of bringing charges against the known rice smugglers, who have destroyed the rice industry, among other things, the government has filed charges against the truckers contracted by the smugglers to haul the smuggled goods.
What kind of justice system is that? And what kind of international commerce is Aquino trying to conduct?
Aquino continues to talk of attracting foreign direct investments, but has done nothing to address the lack of infrastructure, the excessive red tape, the extensive power shortage and the sky-high prices, the threatening water shortage and the runaway prices as well, the poor service offered by the telcos, and the hilarious procedure that allows some village idiot or small town activist to put on hold an important development project.
For the first time in their lives, Filipino housewives have to pay P400 for every kilo of imported garlic; Jolibee ran out of chicken; and the fish mongers could only offer estrogen-cultured cream dory to their non-meat eating customers.
An egomaniac has taken over our republican and democratic state. But aside from taking over the treasury and going after politicians he does not like, while coddling all the wrongdoers who worship his name, he has exercised power for no public purpose, and without any reference to the common good. His continued presence has become an unacceptable anomaly and an unnecessary burden to the society and the state.