THAT’S the response we are likely to get from Malacañang Palace if some of us have the temerity to ask why President BS Aquino moved the official commemoration of Independence Day yesterday to Iloilo City.
That’s especially so if the manner of questioning suggests that the decision appears to be an act of self-indulgence, whim and frivolity – as frivolous as his decision two years ago to move the annual commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolt from where it happened to Cebu City.
But still, we have to ask because to implement this unprecedented change in our freedom day celebration, we did not only have to move scores of government officials and military personnel to the new commemoration site. Government also had to move the traditional vin d’honneur ceremony to Iloilo, and had to transport members of the diplomatic corps, including the papal nuncio, there. What great state purpose is served or achieved by performing this enormous logistical feat on such short notice?
Not the most rational president
We have to ask because truly President Aquino is not the most rational and thoughtful person to serve in the highest office of the land. From his very first day in office, when he broke tradition by refusing to be sworn in by the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, up to today, he has been defiant, iconoclastic, insolent and capricious.
Indeed, the modern colloquialism “in-your-face” is very appropriate to describe many of the things Aquino has indulged in. The idiom, which originally came from sports, means “shocking, annoying, in a way that is difficult to ignore.”
We have to ask during this presidency, because we increasingly feel that, without so much as a by your leave, Aquino and the culture being fostered by his regime have unmoored us from cherished beliefs, customs and traditions. Certain acts once considered taboo have become permissible under this regime. Barriers are being shattered at a rate we have not seen. And the level of public greed and corruption now appears to have no ceiling.
What he means by reform
We have to ask, yes, but then we should also be prepared for the reply, that all these bizarre acts of the President – including the move of the Independence commemoration rites to Iloilo City – are but some of the many reforms that the Aquino Administration is implementing for the welfare and glory of our people and our country.
President Aquino can reply thus because truly many critics and journalists, myself included, have been pestering him to name or enumerate the reforms he has initiated every time he declares (for the umpteenth time) how his reforms have transformed this country, and how he is so concerned that his reforms are carried forward by his successor.
Aquino uses “reform” in his speech as often as radicals talk of “revolution.”
The great political scientist Samuel Huntington has suggested that reform is more difficult than revolution. Alas, he did not have the good fortune to meet or witness BS Aquino in action.
Here’s a glimpse of how Aquino’s mind works: changes such as transferring the site of a commemoration is a form of reform; changing who swears a president into office is reform.
At the Independence Day rites in Iloilo, he made it a point to wear his yellow ribbon pin, instead of the standard flag pin. That, too, is one of the reforms he has introduced.
The truth is, there are no real reforms that he can cite, unless we get generous and concede the following as reforms:
1. The Development Acceleration Program (DAP), which cost us several hundred billions of pesos and has been ruled illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court;
2. The bribery of senators to impeach former chief justice Renato Corona;
3. The prolonged detention without trial of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
4. The indictment and trial for plunder of Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla; and
5. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would dismember the national territory and create a substate if passed by Congress.
Flouting the law
The truth is, what we have before us and above us is a president who thinks nothing about flouting the law, flouting the constitution and rejecting settled convention and traditions.
He does it all, because he thinks he can – and because he is the president.
But not for much longer. He will soon be the ex-president, 12 months from now.
That’s not a date which he can change as easily as he moved the Independence Day rites to Iloilo.