PNoy and the ‘hubris syndrome’


Countless Filipinos are dismayed that PNoy continues to give mixed signals on his plans for 2016.

Although PNoy claimed during the Bombo Radyo interview last week that he’s looking forward to regaining his freedom when he steps down from office, he also said in the same interview that he’ll consult his “bosses” on charter change (cha-cha) proposals for term extension especially after some folks supposedly expressed apprehension at how the reforms he instituted could be continued beyond 2016.

That PNoy even entertained the thought of staying in office a minute longer is an insult to the legacy of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino – a revered icon of Philippine democracy.

Apparently, PNoy believes that he has truly transformed the country and radically improved the lot of Filipinos that we are clamoring for more of the same bullshit for another six years.

Truth is, many of our countrymen are clueless as to what reforms PNoy has been talking about.

Massive corruption still persists throughout the bureaucracy, from the barangay all the way to the national level notwithstanding PNoy’s purported anti-corruption policies and programs.

The number of Filipinos living below the poverty line has remained almost unchanged since PNoy took over, with a majority of our population still deprived of basic human supplies like food, water, sanitation, clothing, shelter, health care and education.

A recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey also shows that, during the second quarter of 2014, the number of unemployed Filipinos increased by 300,000 individuals to 25.9 percent or 11.8 million people – equivalent to the entire population of Metro Manila (based on a 2010 census)! That’s one in every four adult Filipino without a job.

SWS noted that for almost a decade now, joblessness has consistently been above 20 percent, belying PNoy’s claims that he has fulfilled his ambition of providing jobs to Filipinos.

Business news outfit Bloomberg also reported last week that the country’s inflation has doubled in less than a year to 4.9 percent while food prices surged 8.2 percent in the same period – the fastest pace since 2009.

Worse, wealth inequality between the rich and poor in the Philippines is now the second highest in Asia after China – a situation confirmed by the recent Forbes magazine article which concluded that the combined wealth of the country’s 50 richest increased by 12 percent from $65.8 billion to a whopping $74.2 billion in 2013.

PNoy’s exaggerated sense of achievement has led some folks in the medical community to ask whether the self-proclaimed “father of our nation” has developed the so-called “hubris syndrome” (HS).

Lord David Owen, a former British foreign secretary and now a member of the UK’s House of Lords, coined the term “hubris syndrome” – a form of acquired personality disorder usually afflicting people holding positions of significant power – to describe how such power can bring about a change in personality; as if power, almost literally, “goes to the head.”

“The key concept,” Owen writes in the neurology journal Brain, “is that hubris syndrome is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader.”

Hubris, according to researchers, is commonly associated with a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities.

It is characterized by a pattern of excessive confidence in the individual’s own judgment and contempt for the advice or criticism of others, recklessness and impulsiveness often leading to rash, ill thought-out decisions, and hubristic incompetence, where things go wrong because too much self-confidence has led the leader not to worry about the nuts and bolts of policy.

Not a few observers say this may have led to some of PNoy’s ill-fated moves like butting heads with the Supreme Court, toying with a term extension, obsessing with the reversal of the unconstitutional DAP, which caused the Aquino administration’s net approval rating to plunge to a historic low of 29 percent.

Media reports say the Palace’s political and PR strategists are now mounting a massive media campaign to “recreate” the public image of PNoy, with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas bringing in Paul Bograd, a renowned foreign pollster and political strategist.

But some analysts argue that PNoy ought not waste money on spinmeisters. They say all he needs to do is follow the advice of medical researchers on how leaders like him can protect themselves against HS.

“Qualities protective against disproportionate hubris, like humor and cynicism are worth mentioning…but nothing can replace the need for self-control, the preservation of modesty while in power, the ability to be laughed at, and the ability to listen to those who are in a position to advise,” the researchers said.

Other scientists suggest that leaders should avoid inculcating a “yes, boss” environment and should stay in regular contact with contrarians and get external input from independent people.

Amen to that!


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  1. Member of the Middle Class on

    The demented Abnoy is a tool of the ruling oligarchs. Everyone sees, hears the abnoy but everyone is vaguely aware of these sinister handlers. Know who they are. What out for them. They keep putting the wool over our eyes as they control our country, it’s politics and it’s economy.

  2. I have heard of the phrase “between the devil and the deep blue sea” which I understand to be a situation where one cannot decide to take an action because doing so could lead to a worse situation. I am finding myself in such dilemma albeit imaginary where had I the option and power to get rid of pnoy I would want to asap but I also dread the consequence of binay succeeding to the presidency. What a mess we are in now where we are constrained to endure this president despite his abhorable regime because it seems the lesser evil to just wait for its end and elect a better person next time.

    • I cannot agree with you more. Getting rid of Penoy does not offer a better alternative in the person of Binay. Binay’s reputation of being corrupt precedes him. Just look at the case of the claimed “world-class” parking building in Makati. How can you trust Binay to have access to the national treasury if in Makati alone, he has amassed wealth.

  3. Voice from the Wilderness on

    It seems that the political objective of this present inept president in malacanang is to confuse everybody and make the political situation fluid. All these brouhahas he has created in the political scene was designed to send a message that he is still relevant and not lame duck or inutile as his critics want him to be portrayed….But in the meantime, through the body language of the palace specifically from this inept president, he is already preparing for his eventual departure. That is why, he has already scheduled travels abroad this September in many European countries as a state or official visit kuno to promote the country as an investment destination but in reality it is a departure call and a luxury tour at taxpayers expense. Isn’t this a shameless act from an honest and incorruptible great pretender leader?

  4. I had been with the government for so long. I can also easily spot reform initiatives, whether administrative or policy in nature.
    Throughout the term of Aquino and his cohorts, no such reforms have been or are are put in place. Unless they view the expanded CCT, PDAF, DAP, BUB (which now carries a different name), more robust yet suspicious NGO engagements in the workings of government and the TISP that never was (but used as an administrative cover to spend for something else) as reforms to transform for a better quality of life for all.
    They have not graduated from their fancy yet wayward illusions. It is admirable to have heads above the ground to afford a better view of things. But unless the feet touch the ground, reality can not be discerned. Indeed, they are too detached from reality.

  5. Edgar G. Festin on

    Amen to that indeed. Our collective prayer, we God-fearing Filipinos of all confessions, should be for President B.S. Aquino to realize having this lethal disease (to our country and democracy) and deciding to step down for health reasons.

  6. I appreciate and agree with your erudite dissertation on the subject. PNoy’s election to the Presidency is only a product of sympathy vote after the death of Cory Aquino. The trouble with Filipinos is that they are clueless and politically immature. The present bureaucracy is now replete with pigs, dogs, and all kinds of shenanigans in our corrupt society. 2016 is still too long to wait for PNoy to step down.

  7. The “hubris syndrome” typifies Pres. B,S. Aquino, he became congressman, senator, not because of his personal achievement, but because of his ‘pedigree’; became a president because of ‘sympathy’; succeeded in ousting his archenemey CJ because he was able to rein members of congress using part use of DAP which eventually was declared an unconstitutional fund; and, despite eveything, he is still hopeful that he can ‘use’ members of congress for his own agenda.

    Really, somebody has to remind this sitting president that times have changed; there is now such animal as unconventional media where anyone can express his/her opinion; that the “proof of the cake, he is claims, l have to be the pudding”! People might believe him momentarily, but he will be very sorry at the ‘end of the day’. He has had many claims of success, but only to be proven ‘flops’ and unsubstattiated with positive results which only proved him to have “lied”. There is always claim of ‘resiliency’ of the Filipinos, but this cannot go on forever.

  8. You have just echoed what we have been repeating many times earlier regarding the Abnoy’s claim of reforms when you wrote: :”Truth is, many of our countrymen are clueless as to what reforms PNoy has been talking about.” In fact, this is what he has been trumpeting about to justify his ambition to prolong his term. Could it be that he is just being delusional? Dreaming of non-existent reforms.