President Aquino had earplugs during the papal visit


THE dominant themes of Pope Francis homilies and statements during his visit here were in sync with his previous statements on social and economic justice for the poor and the vulnerable. Called “ communist” by American right-wring zealots for his defense of the defenseless, Pope Francis has drawn from the bedrock Church doctrines of love and compassion, from the Sermon on the Mount’s focus on the weak, the meek and the persecuted.

Inequality was another recurrent theme. His was not a superficial, routine mention of the great divide, the vast economic chasm that separates the one percent from the 99 percent. In other forums and in his writings, he had specifically debunked trickle-down economics, which holds that growth, when achieved, spreads the gains from top to bottom and that fairness is a natural consequence of growth .

There is no empirical evidence to back up “trickle-down economics,” according to Pope Francis and the “excluded are waiting.”

This is a pope like no other.

No pope in contemporary history has taken a stand against a particular pro-rich, pro-capital economic doctrine. His predecessors had been content to condemn the great divide in more general terms so as not to rock the economic status quo. The bobitas and the bobitos in the local media had harped on the pope’s supposed “rock star” status. But he is not that kind of pope. He is a Sermon on the Mount pastor, who probably read Marx in his youth and reads Piketty now. And whose big and caring heart bleeds for the weak and the vulnerable. He is, basically, for the reordering of the economic structures to give succor to the weak and those in suffering.

Ok, let us now take a look at Mr. Aquino’s record on easing poverty and human suffering, which remains the dominant story of our country despite the preponderance of leaders, the hyperventilating braggarts of boom, who speak as if we are in a virtual paradise .

Try a Google Search of Mr. Aquino public statements and speeches, and you can’t find the word “inequality.” Searching for the words “poor” or “vulnerable” or the “underclass” would either yield zero or very limited hits. I have written this line a hundred times: President Aquino’s keyboards do not have the word “inequality.”

The favorite words of Pope Francis do not exist in the universe of Mr. Aquino and are not part of his governing philosophy .

Mr. Aquino has a version of the great divide that sounds like a technocratic soundtrack, oceans apart from Pope Francis’s genuine concern for the poor and the vulnerable. He says his government strives for “inclusive growth” through strategic investments. He says that his government’s “bottoms-up” budgetary philosophy draws the projects and programs that it would fund from the needs of the grassroots.

In words sufficiently tortured to push George Orwell out of his grave and do a 21st century rewrite of his classic book “Politics and the English Language,” here is how Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras phrased his invitation to a professional group to join the fight to reduce poverty.

“ We invite you to be a part of the spatial and dimensional facet of poverty reduction.”

What did he mean by that? From what wonderland did he learn that poverty reduction goes by routes “spatial” and “dimensional.” That was not a TED talk, man, nor a Davos gig . You were talking about wasted, hopeless lives who would not think twice about selling body organs or going into prostitution just to put food on the table.

No wonder President Aquino’s version of ushering in “inclusive growth” is rooted on the theme that strategic investments are adequate to solve much of the unbridled, deeply-rooted poverty that has dehumanized much of our country. And it is just a cruel iteration of Almendras’ meme.

Bad policy is usually spoken in bad language and Almendras’s take on how to ease poverty is a classic on how tortured and inadequate the anti-poverty policies of the Aquino government are.

The question of the moment should be asked. Will Mr. Aquino’s hollow and superficial pro-poor, pro-vulnerable programs change after Pope Francis’ straightforward and candid take on the poor, the vulnerable and the curse of inequality.

The most plausible answer? No.

Mr. Aquino is addicted to his growth-at-all-cost doctrine. He does not care about the weak and the vulnerable. What he wants are robust GDP figures, credit upgrades, the puff pieces from foreign journalists that hail him as a technocratic reformer bent on purging official corruption.

He will probably undertake some token programs to show that he heard Pope Francis and he got his messages. My feeling is that it would be a charade.

I have this uneasy feeling that Mr. Aquino, because he does not like the messages of Pope Francis, put on figurative earplugs during the entire duration of the papal visit.


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  1. @ Roy Gacasan, I don’t think anyone would intellectually accept all your defensive and rhetoric explanation. Anyhow you’re entitled to comment accdg to your level of understanding but in this digital information age, Filipinos all over the world would be very hard to convince them according to what you wish to depict of your idol.

  2. Pnoy came at a time when there was loud cry for honest leader or governance as against the lamented GMA administration. True to that promise, he has not been accused of any corruption. I do not know how you can second guess that he does not like the message of the Pope when he has concrete programs for the poor.

    • Where were you all these years of his administration? when he was a Congressman, have you heard about the numerous violence that resulted to Hacienda Luisita massacre of the poor farmers; have you heard of the created DAP by his minions declared by SC as illegal , used to bribe all Congressmen and Senators to impeach the CJ who legally awarded poor farmers right to ownership of Hacienda Luisita which his family hold on more than the 10 yrs., too many to numerate. Kawawa ang mahihirap sa Pilipinas.

  3. Vicente Penetrante on

    ^The ear-plugs of PNoy are remote controlled by his mind and self-plugging. It will be hard for someone else to tamper with his hearing.

    What do you want him to hear from the Pope?

  4. What did you expect from someone who has the genes of a congenital liar running in his blood ?

  5. Pnoy does not need earplugs he can be all ears to the pope and all eyes to what is staring him in his face and still not understand anything. Truth is he is just too dense a nincompoop whose level of awareness does not go beyond that of vice Uganda. I resolved to spend the rest of my life preparing for the next by being a forgiving man but this president and his coterie of morons are making my resolution really hard to accomplish.

  6. With or without earplugs, Pres. B. S. Aquino, having revealed who he is during the past four or so years, would have not listened to what was said, anyway, by the Pope. What he has between those earplugs or ears only points to his “daang matuwid” which, afterall, is a “farce’, because erring partymates still surround him, the failures in the governance because of the fault of others, his alleged ‘accomplishments’ which are self-acclaimed, etc.

    We’ll just have to wait, unless he is removed or will resign. Meanwhile, may God bless the Philippines.

  7. Roldan Guerrero on

    Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino is born a haciendero, a shrewd vast land owner who uses, not to employ people for descent jobs but purposely to gain personal benefits and riches. People of rich clans mess with politics purposely to protect their businesses. BSA`s performance as a lawmaker for 12 long years, describes his ability to hold a government office. It is so unfortunate that I could not see any accomplishment he did for more than a decade, 9yrs as congressman and 3yrs as senator. I dont call him a president because in my own assessment, he lacks every essential qualifications a chief executive must have.Until now, 5yrs after 2010, I could not still find the answer how and why there`s a man like BSA in malacaniang.

    • PNoy Aquino has placed himself in a very difficult task in the most dirty of all dirty jobs. His job is akin to washing the dirtiest blanket muddied with foul smelling soil, mud & feces of over 20 years of corruption during the Martial Law years & another 20 more years of corruption during the presidencies after Cory Aquino. Even before it is washed, the “blanket” must several times be shaken loose off of slime & dirt which have been stuck virtually imbedded in the fabric before treatment with soap & water. Corrupt people are like the smelly dirt stuck in the system in a “Culture of Corruption” which have become the norm in all levels of our society. Many of these corrupt men & women still exist living & profiting off their nefarious activities as if these are their ligit sources of livelihood. And, some of them are pretending to be PNoy’s close friends & cronies, or are truly friends of PNoy or are his close relatives. This even makes PNoy’s blanket washing task at hand much more difficult. People whom he thought were clean & not corrupt will now be washed & cleaned off whether he likes it or not. PNoy may not anymore have two years of his term to finish the job. And he knows that! All he has to do now is to load the washing machine, load the detergents, & push the turn-on button to begin the process. And his enemies are shaking in their boots scared, doing their darnedest best to keep PNoy from starting the machine. Oh Lord Almighty God, let PNoy just push the start button. Men & women next in his line will finish the “dirty blanket washing job!” MABUHAY BAYAN KO!