Mr. GDP Aquino is the country’s loneliest man


Marlen V. Ronquillo

Where is the Davos crowd now that Mr. Aquino, the former president obsessed with pleasing this crowd via his cruel technocratic policies, is down and out?

Where is the Makati Business Club (MBC) crowd, which Mr. Aquino obsessed to please during his six years as president, now that he is down and out?

The Davos crowd is nowhere. Mr. Aquino can no longer sing the favored ditties of the Davos people, which are GDP growth, fiscal discipline, technocracy, globalization and free markets. Mr. Aquino also failed to transition into a thought leader, a global speaker on globalization and technocratic leadership. This is the reason he is of no use to the Davos crowd in his post-presidential years. Sorry, but if you fail to transition into a globe-trotting advocate of Davos ideas in your post-leadership years, and an effective advocate at that, you are nobody to this crowd.

There is a revolving door, yes, but only if a former leader were capable, articulate and a known deep thinker. Mr. Aquino is not.

How about the MBC crowd, which praised Mr. Aquino as the Second Coming during his presidential years due to his pro-business, pro-rich policies?

The Filipino rich and super rich have gotten to where they are – rich and powerful – because they have long traded principles and deep alliances with sucking up to the powers. And that means whoever is in power. After the candidate of Mr. Aquino lost and the elected president had little love for Mr. Aquino, Big Business which used to sing alleluias to the pro-business policies of Mr. Aquino promptly dropped Mr. Aquino in favor of the new ruling mandarins.

The same business tycoons who used to praise Mr. Aquino to high heavens are now describing the economic policies and the economic team of DU30 in the same endearing terms. Not because DU30 is obsessed with the same pursuits of Mr. GDP Aquino. What Big Business loves about DU30 is his complete detachment from the economic policies and his preference to focus on the issues he has mastered – law and order and terrorism.

DU30, right after his election, opted to compartmentalize the presidency. His economic policies will be taken care of by his economic team. It so happened that the economic team of DU30 is more conservative, orthodox and pro-business than the team of Mr. Aquino. What is there not to love about the economic policies of DU30? As I have written before, the proposed tax reform package is Exhibit A. The tax reform package as written by DU30’s economic team could have been written by the fiscal people at the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

There is nothing about the reform package that advocates FDR’s “soak the rich” tax policies. Under the cover of cutting the 32 percent tax of wage earners with a yearly income of P500,000 or more, the real agenda is to cut the corporate tax.

Though DU30 does not pander to Big Business and apparently does not enjoy their company (he likes to be in military and PNP camps), the economic team of DU30 is the guarantee that it is “ business-as-usual” for Big Business.

What is also clear is that the Big Business posse of Mr. Aquino unceremoniously steered clear of him after the new dispensation came to power in 2016. There was even no transition period. The members of Mr. Aquino’s cabinet returned to their professional role in Big Business, which made it mandatory for them to suck up to the new powers. Or else, they would be left out in the frenzied grab for the multi-billion PPP projects up for bid.

Even the mining and construction billionaires whose riches tripled under Mr. Aquino reached out to Mr. Aquino in secret, afraid that their continuous association with the former leader would deprive them of the opportunity to make hay under the new rulers.

There is a term for that, said nightly on TV news: “weather -weather lang yan.” How true.

The opposition leaders who spoke at the opposition counter-SONA could all fit in a Suzuki Celerio or an MMC Mirage. There is a certain irony to this “all of them could fit into a Mirage” claim. The Exhibit A of Mr. Aquino’s preference for business affairs over the most tragic issues of the common man was ironically displayed on the day the fallen SAF 44 arrived in body bags to Manila from the killing fields of Mamasapano. On that day, Mr. Aquino, instead of commiserating with the families of the fallen SAF 44, opted to grace the occasion of the MMC facility in Laguna, which is not even brand-new but one recycled from its former owner, Ford Philippines. That MMC facility builds the Mirage.

How could he? That was the general lament of the family members left behind by the fallen SAF 44. The SAF 44 were slaughtered because of the operational blunders of the PNP High Command, which probably took orders directly from Mr. Aquino. How could he trade the opportunity to be with us for the inauguration of a recycled facility? How true and how painful.

Mr. Aquino, in his six years in power, just built shallow and transactional relationships to further his agenda of pursuing GDP growth and pro-business policies relentlessly. With his title gone, everybody who mattered, from the business people to the political allies, jumped ship.

Right now, with the Ombudsman’s decision to file a case against him related to the Mamasapano carnage, the abandoned Mr. Aquino is the country’s loneliest man.


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