What people do not get about Mr. Aquino is this. He is essentially a Randian. The strong, the masters of the universe, are his heroes. The weak and the vulnerable are, in his version of the world, moochers–that are to be swatted like flies or cockroaches. We just don’t know at what stage of his life did he imbibe an overdose of John Galt. What we know is that he has applied his beliefs that the world is divided between the strong and the moochers in his governing philosophy.
So the proposed small hike in the pension of SSS members in the national budget, a meager rise of P2,000 a month per member, really had no chance of getting the signature of Mr. Aquino. Anything that represents a small break for the vulnerable is the equivalent of a gift to moochers. That’s a no-no to Mr. Aquino.
With a cowardly Congress lacking the numbers to override, that veto on the SSS pension hike will most likely stay. Unless, of course, Mr. Drilon and Mr. Belmonte agree to mutiny and challenge the veto of Mr. Aquino.
SSS pensioners who entertained hopes that Mr. Aquino would have a change of heart and tweak his governing policies just for this one time small support to SSS members expected to much from a cold, heartless technocrat. A week back, I told a pensioner who excitedly told me that his pension will go up soon this: Expect nothing. You don’t know this president. He will just break your heart. True enough, Mr. Aquino broke the collective hearts of millions of pensioners.
(Mr. Aquino did not break my heart. I am an SSS member who has yet to apply for my small pension. I will do it after Mr. Aquino is gone. A President Binay, a President Duterte or a President Poe will surely sign that small pension hike.)
There is no reason not to grant that small pension hike. GSIS and SSS pensions are inadequate. The Philippines is one of the dwindling countries in the world with weak safety nets. Even in the health front, the PhilHealth benefits are still inadequate. Critics say that Obamacare is weak compared to the Canadian or European versions. But when we evaluate the provisions of Obamacare from the Philippine context, they are heaven.
This is the real score. Mr. Aquino will go down in history as the president least concerned with the woes of the weak and the vulnerable. This is not just a knee-jerk claim but one with empirical basis.
Do you remember the vehemence that undergirded his opposition to the congressional measure on fair taxation, the one that gives a small tax break to ordinary wage earners which peak rate is 32 percent? Mr. Aquino did not merely say no to the proposed tax break. He accused the proponents of grandstanding, of playing to the gallery.
He and his favorite, Mr. Roxas, even pitted the poor against the wage earners. What programs for the poor will be cut once we give in to the tax break, the Aquino- Roxas Bros chorused. Can you think of a presidential statement more cruel than that?
Okay, do you remember the sad event in May of 2013, when Congress presented the Magna Carta for the Poor to Mr. Aquino for his signature. Mr. Aquino said No. He called it “ unrealistic.” The draft law offered small concessions to the poor that the budget could very well fund.
Some claimed he vetoed it without looking at the small concessions offered in the draft law. Basta. Anything for the poor is anathema to the governing principles of Mr. Aquino.
Do you remember what Mr. Aquino did after the Napoles—inspired pork barrel scam broke out in the news? I do because farmers (I am one) were the first victim of that scam. Without even looking at the context of the scam — that farm coops and farm organizations were used as fronts and were technically the first victims of the pork scam – Mr. Aquino’s first directive was to cut off all seed and production subsidies to small farmers.
He used the scam to further marginalize the small farmers, who are the most neglected under his administration. Only a Randian would do that.
Do you have an accounting on how shabbily his administration carried out the rehabilitation of the Yolanda-ravaged areas ? Read the report of the UN inspectorate and you will weep.
The most-remembered optic of the Aquino administration was framed on the day the cadavers of the Fallen 44 were brought to Manila from the killing fields of Mamasapano. We all know what Mr. Aquino did. Instead of welcoming the heroes his government sent for the proverbial slaughter, Mr. Aquino opted out of the chance to welcome the heroes.
We all know where he went. Attend the inauguration of a recycled car manufacturing plant in Laguna.
Mr. Aquino is all-business and consumed by growth, investment and budgetary matters that he even fails to realize that governing is, first and foremost, about caring for those who needs the government most.