Mr. Aquino has not been modest when it comes to the achievements of his administration. He sees himself as a reformer-colossus, a corruption-buster, a prodigious GDP-raiser, the slayer of years of impunity and corruption. No president in contemporary history has been as vigorously specific and pointed as Mr. Aquino on the issues of legacy and continuity. Which means his alleged greatness has to be the path, the one and only path, of the next president.
Even during the end-days of Mr. Ramos, who like Mr. Aquino got puff pieces from the foreign press and approbation from multilateral institutions for his supposed efforts to lift the country into a “ tiger” status (and was proud of his cold technocracy), there was no such gloating and boasting. Mr. Ramos, if you know your history, quietly retreated when the last political act of his government – to rewrite the constitution to pave the way for a second term – got no public support whatsoever.
One big anti cha-cha rally at Rizal Park tempered FVR’s urge to do what his cousin, Marcos, did.
Mr. Aquino is an entirely different political specie, on an entirely different planet when the issues are about legacy and continuity. He is not only ultra-proud of his presidency. He wants his supposed legacy to be at the front, back and center of the current campaign. Is he getting his wish? No. In fact, the campaign, to the president’s extreme frustration, has relegated him and his supposed achievements, into the realm of yesterday. The supposed great president-reformer has been ignored by the two men and the woman who could be president in June.
Take note on how the top three presidential contenders regard Mr. Aquino and the sum of his supposed great accomplishments. All the three – Mr. Binay, Ms. Poe and Mr. Duterte – appear to have nothing to do, no connection whatsoever, with Mr. Aquino and his presidency.
Banking giant JP Morgan, in its analysis on why a minority president cannot be that damning to the country, suggested that Mr. Binay’s focus on low income brackets may even be good for inclusive growth, which is boiler-plate in Mr. Aquino’s speeches, but has never been pursued in a meaningful way.
As one who got to college on small-scale hog raising (he now owns a modern, tunnel-ventilated piggery which I intend to build once I hit the Powerball jackpot ), he does not have the contempt for farmers and for workers that is evident in the current president. Mr. Binay panders to the working class. Do you have a problem with that?
In contrast, Mr. Aquino ‘s policies lifted yachts and mega-yachts but did very little to patch the holes in rickety boats of the marginal fishermen who are forced out into the deep sea, to drown there often, helpless against the big waves. The poor men and the deep, angry sea. That a rising tide lifts all boats, the grandest idea of governance, foundered under the Aquino presidency. The Top 1 percent got all the support and snagged 60 percent of GDP gains.
Ms. Poe ‘s economic promises center on joblessness and focus on the rural areas, including neglected Mindanao, which have never been the concerns of Mr. Aquino. The strength of her economic platform is best seen on her grassroots insurance program, which is actually a radical insurance program that functions as a safety net. The devil is in the details and the details of the insurance program are of the Nordic/Scandinavian models. In contrast, Mr. Aquino would not even raise the pension of retirees.
Mr. Duterte is making not much promise and does not pretend to be a president-wonk. His main plank is to get rid of the criminals and syndicates and restore peace and order – upon which (he claims) all commercial and economic enterprises could grow. He is basically a one-issue candidate who has parlayed that one issue into an appealing theme with a very broad appeal. The one thing impressive about Mr. Duterte is his candor. The fact that he considers Mr. Aquino and Mr. Roxas as twins in a governance of failure not only makes him an Aquino-agnostic but dismissive of the duo.
If you have been observant of US political affairs, you must have noticed the inordinate, over-the-top influence of a term-limited president in the current primary campaigns. Mr. Obama is planning for his post-presidential life but whether he likes it or not he is at the front, back and center of the primaries, especially the Democratic primaries.
If only Secretary Clinton can hang on to the Obama coat lapels till the end of the primaries, she would. In the primary debates, a dozen mention of Mr. Obama would not suffice for Mrs. Clinton. She averages about 20 mentions of Mr. Obama and Obama policies. Mr. Sanders, the challenger, now downplays his call for a primary challenge to Mr. Obama in 2012, especially now that the primaries are now heading into states with significant black voting populations.
The Republican presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, have portrayed themselves as anti-Obamas, the anti-thesis of Mr. Obama.
Mr. Aquino and his governing policies laid the groundwork for his inconsequence. By choice, he was the president of the 1 percent. The rest, he ignored. A presidential campaign is about appealing to broad swaths of voters, mostly the 99 percent Mr. Aquino ignored. That is the simple explanation of why the current campaign has relegated him into a footnote.