• How do you solve a problem like Aquino?

    Ricardo Saludo

    Ricardo Saludo

    First of three parts

    When somebody [said]Daang Matuwid, formerly I was also clapping my hands but whenever I hear Daang Matuwid now, come on, let’s be real. Sometimes I say: ‘Ang matuwid na daan tungo sa kanal.’ [The Straight Path leads to the sewer.] That is terrible, but I find it harder and harder to trust the President’s intention.
    — Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz

    Let’s all get real, especially those still cheering every move and missive by the Palace and the administration. Some do so out of sincere if misinformed or blind admiration, others act out of political expediency and personal gain, especially those whose sycophancy quickly turned from outgoing to incoming leader back in 2010. As it surely would when Malacañang’s occupant changes again in 2016.

    But in these last 30 months of the incumbent administration, it is high time and in the overarching national interest, at least for those who do care for our sole republic, to remove any blinders, especially those put on by fawning media and politicians, and, as the good archbishop said, get real about Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd.

    In particular, the nation and its leaders and key sectors must open their eyes to his major failings, willfully downplayed, totally missed or even defended by mainstream media. Perhaps also too subtle for most citizens to notice, these pernicious qualities have spawned governance tendencies which threaten long-term fundamental damage to Philippine democracy, rule of law, development, and social welfare.

    One leading columnist wrote that Aquino could go down as the second-best president ever. Consider the following failings, to be discussed through the week, and go figure:

    a) Aquino disregarded and even undermined established statutes and institutions.

    b) He practiced highly partisan governance, especially in anti-corruption efforts.

    c) His combative, fault-finding approach (rather than problem-solving) created difficulties in addressing issues and crises.

    These failings may not affect opinion polls much, and could even boost them with help from politicized media, but their effects are already creeping across the government. If they are not stopped, their impact on the culture of both politics and governance will be immensely adverse.

    The lawless presidency
    First of these PNoy failings, for which he remains utterly unrepentant, is the sweeping disregard for democratically enacted laws and established institutions. This trait was seen early on in his first Executive Order back in 2010 and the Palace insistence on its constitutionality despite a 10-5 Supreme Court decision declaring EO 1 unconstitutional.

    The order violated the principle of equal protection under the law by singling out one administration for investigation by the Philippine Truth Commission it created. The High Court ruling suggested that the EO could clear this bar by simply expanding the PTC’s explicit scope. In short, adding an ‘s’ at the end of the commission’s mandate covering “the past administration.”

    Former appeals judge Magdangal Elma, appointed Palace legal adviser, who had served in the Presidential Commission on Good Governance created by the president’s mother Corazon, urged that the PCGG be used to do the PTC’s job. Also created by the first Executive Order issued by the first Aquino president, the PCGG is empowered to undertake any probe the Chief Executive may order.

    No dice. Aquino did not bother with those perfectly legal solutions. Instead, he unleashed the first of his many diatribes against the Supreme Court. The issue was put to rest only after Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez quit after being impeached by the House of Representatives in the first use of pork barrel releases to unseat a constitutionally independent official. With his chosen Ombudsman ready and willing to target the Arroyo administration, Aquino found no need for the PTC.

    Malacañang above all
    Other open disdain and even disregard for law followed, prompting close Aquino family friend and veteran lawyer Senator Joker Arroyo to deplore shoddy work by Palace lawyers, which got three other early EOs haled to the High Court. But that well-meaning and much-deserved criticism fell on deaf ears: Aquino did not care much for legalities.

    He went his merry way ordering the Department of Justice to withdraw the Oakwood Mutiny case in 2010, after six years in court and despite nationally televised evidence. With presidential approval, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima also desisted in appealing the junking of the Dacer-Corbito double-murder case against then fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson. Thus, Aquino added two allies in the Senate, including amnestied mutineer Antonio Trillanes 4th.

    The biggest affront to the rule of law came in November 2011, when the administration went against a Supreme Court decision voiding de Lima’s travel ban on former president Gloria Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel. Even staunch Aquino ally and her mother’s former Justice secretary Senator Franklin Drilon found reason to caution against the willful disregard of the nation’s highest judicial authority.

    But Aquino did not care to take orders from the Corona court. He lambasted it weeks later at the Criminal Justice Summit hosted by the Palace. Soon after, the President launched his unprecendented campaign to oust the Chief Justice, reprising the pork barrel inducements which ousted Ombudsman Gutierrez.

    ‘Pork Barrel King’
    Aquino bristled at online posts calling him “Pork Barrel King.” Sadly for him, the label befits his rule in several ways. In his annual General Appropriations Acts since the 2011 GAA, the Priotity Development Assistance Fund disbursed with the assent of legislators, trebled from the past administration, topping P20 billion a year.

    As widely believed and attested by legislators themselves, the Palace used PDAF releases to get administration measures passed and Gutierrez and Corona impeached. Thus, President Aquino’s own kingly clout in enacting laws and taking down perceived adversaries was built on pork barrel.

    The Internet label itself was coined in reference to hundreds of billions of pesos in public funds which the President disburses without specific allocations enacted by Congress. Those monies include the Malampaya offshore gas royalties, the Presidential Social Fund, and most recently, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

    Last November, the Supreme Court rightly declared PDAF unconstitutional and set restrictions on Malampaya and PSF use. This month and next, it must further rein in President Aquino’s lawless ways by trashing the DAP, which circumvents the budget law by taking funds from GAA allocations, then spending the billions of pesos in false savings on programs and projects never even proposed in Congress.

    President Aquino has assaulted the rule of law and the independence of co-equal branches of government. It’s time to get legal with him.

    (The second and third parts will run on Wednesday and Friday.)


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    1. Alfred Balbin Jr. on

      System Change is the solution to the problem. If we remain under this
      system nurtured by “politics of patronage”, popularity,
      highly centralized control, and unstable national leadership with less development on local governance, this country present system will continue to lead us to political quicksand. We have to allow the direct participation of the people in pursuing transformational change. This could be best achieved in adopting a federal system with a parliamentary government. Allowing every regional state to probe for
      its competence and leadership capability among its leaders ( from here we could have better choice for national leadership as contrary to simply popularity and public relation propaganda), by allowing full decentralized and devolution of pwer over regional state resources (resolving the highly centralized control and
      delays), by nurturing people’s direct legislation through people’s initiative under regional states ( for every states to determine best policies and laws in relation to their conditions), by instilling electoral change under new system (for each state to settle more democratic and clean elections, avoiding national coverage of electing senators but allowing every states to elect equal number of desired national legislators. This 2016 election incorporate in the ballot plebiscite to decide weather the people desires for a new system and in what manner it should be
      developed ( eliminating never ending debate in the congress).

    2. Best for PNoy to resign ASAP! This is good for him because he is loosing his front hair so fast, if he stays some more, he wouldn’t have any more front hair left. This is because of emotional stress. This guy just do not have the quality of the good leader. For the country. at lease we can get rid of someone whose penchant is only to “Privatize” all Filipino assets. That’s all. He has no other talent.

      • Its wrong to say that “This guy just do not have the quality of the good leader.”

        He’s not a leader at all.

    3. Romeo M. Menorca on

      How do you solve a problem like Aquino?

      A person who is lonely, isolated, insecure, unsure – will always be a problem. If this person realizes and admits that he is a problem and decides to seek help then he and his being a problem can be likened to an ice exposed to sunlight and begins to melt. In a nutshell, only he (the problem child) can solve the problem.

      If Aquino is this problem, he can always quit now and hopefully free us all from this trap.

    4. Romeo M. Menorca on

      How do you solve the problem of weak leadership, of absence of basic managerial skills, of vindictiveness, of incompetence….

      …And how do you solve the problem like Aquino, who lacks comprehension and sense of appreciation of the things and events that unfold right before his eyes, adversely affecting the Filipino.

      How? How do you solve a riddle?

      Let’s ask the Oracle of Delphi.

    5. I hope pnoy will instruct his puppets in both houses to ease some taxes on gas and electricity so our country can be competitive to our neigboring countries in the ASEAN before 2015. We can no longer produce rice even 200 pesos above the production of Vietnam and Thailand. Rice smuggling is now the profitable item that cash turn over are made overnight upon arrivals.

    6. To Ding, India is worst if your divisor is language.
      BaNoy is a better term instead of Abnoy for pnoy. Abnoy, b…. kasi takot sa p… and Noy kaya BaNoy.
      This president is pasakit sa mahihirap. He dont care if the electric bills goes to the ceiling, sss Philhealth! What’s next? We should not allow rich people be president. Enlighten me if my obserbation is wrong.

    7. From Luneta hostage crisis to power crisis; Aquino government is truly incompetent, hopeless and idealess to solve the problems of our country that crippled many of our people from middle class to lower class except the oligarch and the elite.

    8. It is my firm belief that before we can offer any solution to a problem, we first need to know what the problems to be remedied are. The Doctor subjects the patient to very close examination to determine the nature of the sickness. Only then will he prescribe the cure. We should be grateful to persons like Mr. Tiglao who is patient and courageous in informing our people as to the true intent of the President. May God give us more media practitioners like him.

    9. Its the patronage potical system that needs to change..the president alone cannot do it even do how powerful he is..all presidents have done what were highlighted in your column..that’s the truth..what we want to hear is your solutions..what’s the church solutions..

    10. sana mataohan na ang mga Pilipino, hindi na dapat patagalin. Hirap na tayong lahat para magtitiis ng matagal. We should revolutionize our minds, change the administration, change the constitution, and ban dynasty, require religious groups that collected 10% from their members to return it to members in terms of housing and livelihood. Because most of them are just making palatial homes and one of them was just spending for his presidential ambition. We should remember that dynasty does not promote check and balance. Sa sunod huwag magtulak ng walang interest sa pagtakbo kagaya ni abnoy. Ang naisip tuloy magsira ng mga constitutional institutions – supreme court, ombudsman at congress.

    11. Noynoy has shortcomings indeed, specially in governing. For us it is easy to find fault on him but let us not forget that the people selected him (if the election was really clean) although he is not the most suitable person for the presidency (in many aspect, i should say). This will continue on unabated in our present system of government. There will be no solution indeed. Why? Because we are electing person to the most sensitive position without validation. Popularity is the name of the game. Our country will never reach the height of a country like Singapore or Japan. Because they elect people who are capable, (IQ, EQ, experience, etc…). my solution is not on noynoy, but on our system of selecting government officials and the form of government we are adopting. I should say it’s about high time to change our government to Parliamentary form like Germany perhaps or Malaysia, Singapore, Australia. There are so many templates for successful government and the people of the Philippines are not blind. The problem is the very few who wants secure their hold on power, wealth, and influence if good governance come into fruition. Our country is the most divided country in the world. Look at the map, count the dialects, count the religious sects, and so on. you would come to agree with me. There are many factors that our country is striving hard to be one solid government that would propel to development and wealth. It is so many that we could not discuss it here. We are what we are, but let us not be tolerant to our poor system of government because we could change.

    12. tom singay, exactly this is a democratic country (though i doubt it), so saludo has the right for stating what is in his mind… this critics are necessary for the administration to see that they are not doing well, though its completely obvious in the way people live. the government has turned a blind eye over what really matters and do you think if mr. saludo here proposed a solution hell be able to magic away the currents problems? no, that’s a big no, cause no matter what we do whether we scream or shout, they won’t listen to us not until we become united again.. but i doubt that also since people like you seems to be captivated still by the “cory magic”

    13. Arlene Bermudez on

      Thank you Mr. Saludo for informing the public. We believe you because objective people readily see the truth in Peque Gallaga’s observation that PNoy is UNIQUELY UNQUALIFIED for HE HAS NOT DONE AN HONEST DAY WORK.

    14. what goes around comes around and in just 30 months of being president, surely he will fall down in disgrace worst than previous regimes. good luck abnoy and may you rot in jail like what you did to gma

    15. Agree, except the last sentence. Lawlessness has become the badge of the CNoy administration so how can we get legal with him?

      I say, it’s time to get get “extra-judicial” with him.

    16. Aquino is not the problem. The problem lies in people like you, Tiglao and others who enjoyed bashing the current administration with negative comments instead of offering concrete solutions to the country’s numerous problems. It’s democratic country, so you can say anything you want but please don’t misguide and misinform other readers.

      • If Abnoy is not the problem, he is not the solution either. Has he tried to solve the power rate hike, unemployment and the ever growing poverty in the country? Maybe that is misinformation to you.

      • Get real! Do you think PNoy will listen.
        Wala nga siyang oras sa mga critcs, his busy.
        THREE (3) years na and still they don’ t know what they should be doing!