A RADICAL change will engulf the country starting at noon tomorrow and this goes beyond the mere ceremonial turnover of the reins of government from BS Aquino The Last to President Rodrigo Duterte. We can only hope that the expected change under Mr. Duterte will be for the greater good of the greater number. He has our best wishes.
BS Aquino as a legislator never impressed this Congress Insider. He’s an onion-skinned person who didn’t excel in lawmaking and whose main asset is a respected family name. Yet, when he won as president in 2010, I wished he’d succeed as chief executive. Unfortunately, he was never able to rise above his own self. Once a BS, always a BS I guess.
BS Aquino The Last said he would happily relinquish the presidency. Well, I have good news for him, in case he hasn’t heard it yet – a lot more people are happier to see him leave Malacañang. They’ll be happier still if he’ll be made to account for subverting the decision of the Supreme Court against pork barrel and the disbursement acceleration program, for the suspected misuse of calamity funds, for command responsibility over the Mamasapano and other massacres, and for much executive over-reach.
BS Aquino is elitist, Duterte is populist. However, there they have one common trait – distaste of criticism. Once, I wrote in this column that I found it unbelievable that after 9 years as congressman and almost 3 years as senator, Aquino didn’t know yet that the Senate could consider a House-approved bill without a Senate counterpart bill. When we got to talk, he maintained the correctness of his position, and then gave these menacing words that normally come from neighborhood toughies: “Baka naman kinakalaban mo lang ako!”
I’ve come to realize that BS Aquino considered all criticisms as a personal affront. He had always believed in his own correctness and righteousness. This hubris was most evident in his treatment of the late Sen. Joker Arroyo after a heated floor debate. He had refused to talk to this old family friend after that incident. Why, he didn’t even extend any sympathetic word to the surviving members of Joker’s family after his death!
He refused to be interviewed by known critics in media. Somebody in his circle once told me that he believed critics were merely seeking his attention (“nagpapa-pansin”) and should be ignored. It seems, however, that this belief on criticism may persist even after BS Aquino has left Malacañang.
Mr. Duterte and his followers should realize the importance of an adversarial press in a democratic society. The media’s questioning or pointing out of perceived errors doesn’t necessarily indicate “bias.” He and his avid followers should acknowledge that responsible journalism doesn’t mean reporting only the news favorable to the administration and parroting releases from Malacañang. Media will give him the benefit of the doubt, will wish him well, but media will never be a mere mouthpiece. It never was; it never will be.
He should find that media is a powerful tool for explaining to the people his program of government – and such explanations should be made in clear, understandable words. There should be no room for the media to interpret what he really means. “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” as the adage goes.
One campaign promise of Mr. Duterte that’s beyond misinterpretation is his vow to wage total war against crime. This is the campaign promise that has drawn the most support among the voters. I hope that this war will go beyond the elimination of the small fry in crime syndicates or gangs and target the ring bosses for a change. I also hope that this will result in the capture of many politicians who have avoided the clutches of the law, like the former congressman from Mindanao convicted of killing his wife.
There are high expectations for Mr. Duterte. He can be “forgiven” should he be unable to eradicate crime within the first six months of his administration. He didn’t eradicate crime in Davao City during the 23 years that he was the city mayor, so for him to do so in the entire country in six months would be expecting too much. Anyway, he has six years within which to fulfill this and his other noteworthy promises, including the shift from unitary to a federal form of government. But that’s another story.