Before the ship of state drowns in all the trust and confidence being heaped by President BS Aquino on his non-performing and erring Cabinet members and agency chiefs, the country, for its own survival, should conduct a trust accounting on Aquino and his Administration, on Congress and on the Supreme Court.
This is imperative because nothing less than the moral authority of the government has been compromised by the lengthy catalogue of failures and shortcomings in governing that this second Aquino Administration has wantonly inflicted on the nation.
Except for the lonesome figure of the NFA chief, no member of the Administration is willing to resign as a sacrifice to save the tottering government. No scandal and no public shaming can persuade the top and favored members of the government to take the honorable way out by resigning their office.
Instead they hide behind ploys and platitudes to cling to office, that (1) “they serve at the pleasure of the president”; (2) the president rejected their resignation (Abad); (3) “the President only has to text him for him to resign” (Abaya). They all shamelessly hang on to high office.
Trust in Aquino now in deficit
A trust accounting – examining how the people really look on how the Aquino Administration is serving or not serving their interest – and conducted by honest and serious public opinion polling, will show how much the people really approve or disapprove of what the president and his Administration are doing, and of what in turn Congress and the Supreme Court are doing.
This used to be a cakewalk for the Administration because SWS and Pulse Asia, like most of mainstream media, were conscripted by the government for the “permanent campaign” that the Palace embarked on when BS Aquino acceded to the presidency. The pollsters dutifully came up with surveys that purported to show Aquino as enjoying stratospheric approval ratings.
But now, after four years at the helm, and with the failures and shortcomings of the administration in bold relief, the approval ratings have reversed.
The trend now is clear: there is a growing trust deficit shadowing the presidency. When Aquino asked citizens to wear his yellow ribbon to manifest their support for him, nobody bothered to wear it. When the president was told about it, it is said that he threw a tantrum.
Because of the way they have been dominated and abused by Aquino, the Senate and the House occupy the two lowest ranks in every rating of the institutions and agencies of government.
Only Supreme Court up in public esteem
Only the Supreme Court appears to have a high approval rating these days. And this is chiefly because the Sereno court has asserted its power of judicial review, declaring some acts of Congress as unconstitutional, and certain acts of the President, like the DAP, as illegal and unconstitutional.
By its steadfastness, the high court has been the saving grace of our democracy today. As the President has ventured into the dark world of autocracy, as Congress has merely watched in greedy approval, the Supreme Court has been the tribune of the people.
In his book, Trust: The Social Virtue and the Creation of Prosperity, political scientist and best-selling author Francis Fukuyama provides his thematic follow-up to his The End of History and the Last Man.
In Trust, he writes of the emerging global economic order, about the social principles of economic life, and what nations need to know to win the new struggle for world dominance.
Fukuyama contends that this is an era when social capital may be as important as physical capital. Only those societies with a high degree of social trust will be able to create the flexible, large-scale business organizations that are needed to compete in the new global economy.
It is in this light – of building social capital – that we Filipinos must be roused to outrage by the disrepute that our public officials have brought to public office and public institutions.
Building mistrust and cynicism
While the public was weighing the varied and loud calls for the resignation and forced leave of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Alan Purisima and Department of Transportation and telecommunications DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma issued one of his patented statements, which makes no bones about speaking as though he were the great PNoy himself.
Of Abaya, he said: “to my knowledge, the President’s trust and confidence in him is intact.”
Intact? Even though Abaya, together with other DOTC officials, is facing investigation and complaints for the mismanagement of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) System and the anomalous contract for its maintenance.
Of Purisima, Coloma said that the president has vouched for the character of Purisima, even as he awaits the PNP chief’s explanations of the corruption, unexplained wealth allegations hurled against him.
Vouched for? Even though Purisima has amassed many properties and built a mansion at Camp Crame from bribes and illegal donations.
Throwing Abad under the bus
The only redeeming aspect of Coloma’s weekend statement was the fact that he omitted a defense of Budget Secretary Butch Abad, who is hands-down the most reviled member of the Administration, next only to the President himself.
Instead of issuing another blanket defense of Abad and the DAP, Coloma put him aside.
This led some to conclude that perhaps Aquino has decided to throw Abad under the bus.
If Aquino has indeed decided to throw Abad under the bus, he may yet turn the remaining months of his presidency into a positive leave taking. He could arrest the precipitous decline of the Aquino brand.
And when the time comes for the nation to elect a new leader in May 2016, Aquino may yet become a player instead of just an onlooker.