The audacity of Mr. Aquino ‘s hecklers


The political Left has the most realistic reading of public sentiment on the political leadership. These 24/7 anti-government protesters temper their angst and rhetoric when the leader is extremely popular. But when the leaders are vulnerable, they go for the kill—the jugular. The Left does not do polling and gauge focus groups to test the public mood and temper; it is just gut and instinct that is almost always accurate.

In the middle of 2010, the Left, in a moment of extraordinary restraint, staged a SONA protest without the usual fiery feature—burning the effigy of newly-elected President Aquino. The pro-Aquino euphoria, the Left sadly realized, wafted heavily in the air, even in the blighted slum colonies along the presidential route to the Batasang Pambansa. The Left always frames its struggles as battles for the hearts and minds of the people. Then, with Aquino’s popularity at its peak, it was tactical folly to burn his effigy.

Circa 2014. All gloves are off. The Left knows that while people are aware that President Aquino does not steal public money and people do not actually hate him, the enthusiasm for his leadership is gone. Every protest tool can now be deployed. Effigy burning, that verboten thing in 2010, is perfectly acceptable now.

And there is a new game on the protest scene—hecklers haunting the president. At the Independence Day celebration in Naga City, a heckler stole the show. There was another brave young soul in Iloilo City, who heckled the President while the leader of the nation was reporting on his standard spiels on growth and booms.

The real boom, this is the great irony, maybe in the industry of heckling the President.

What is at the root of this audacity (heckling the President is both an act of stealth and audacity)? Over the past four years, if you believe the official data, the Philippine story has been one of a great and sustained economic growth. And where there is amazing growth, this is the conventional thinking, there is a complementary reduction in poverty and rising contentment.

Spectacular growth and poverty reduction are supposed to march in lock step, enhancing, in the process, the public satisfaction with the political leadership. There is a bonanza that leaders are supposed to reap from steering the ship of the state to prosperous seas. Why is there no public love fest with the President who has delivered what no President in recent history has ever accomplished—yearly growth rates that often top 7 percent?

Why oh why?

The answers are simple and straightforward.

The plutocrats have vacuumed up the gains from growth.

Those below have not been lifted by the rising tide.

Naturally, no leader can draw love and support from the teeming and alienated mass that can’t identify with the prosperity and growth spiels.

The president’s hacks and flacks may point out to the decent approval ratings of their boss to blunt the impact of the heckling. They can say that these are isolated voices that do not reflect the real public sentiment. Who do you believe, they would arrogantly ask, False Asia and the Skewed Weather Station or the hecklers?

The truth about public mood and sentiment can be found in the protest actions of the Left. If the Left is timid and tentative on its mode of protests and has a restrained voice when critiquing the president, you are 100 percent sure that the President has popular support and that support is solidly grounded.

Once the Left deploys all the tools in its protest armory, the burning of effigy included, you are pretty sure that the leader has a tenuous place in the hearts and minds of the people. And whatever claims of public support he has comes—without validation—from the likes of the Skewed Weather Station and False Asia.

For all its strategic blinders (and blunders), such as clinging to the discredited dogma of encircling the city from the countryside, the Left is an accurate bellwether on how the public feels about the President. Right now, the Left is busy filing plunder cases against the President and stepping up its protest actions. The Left does not protest in a vacuum, remember, and its stepped-up protest actions are all anchored on the reading of this public sentiment : the 2010 euphoria is gone.

Of course the Palace can dismiss the Left. But it should read carefully what was recently said by Mr. Binay in a speech before a lawyers’ group.

Decrying the what he termed as the “ breakdown” of law and order in the country, Mr. Binay told the lawyers these:

“From the chaotic traffic jams in our streets to the breakdown of law and order as manifested in the brutal assassination of mayors, journalists, police officers, a race car driver, businessmen or just plain ordinary folks, the void in order and discipline in our land has approached the level of the unacceptable.”

On the surface, he was blaming the DILG boss for what he termed was the breakdown of law and order in the country. But if you place his statements in the broader and proper context, his was a sweeping indictment of the present leadership.

If a member of the Aquino Cabinet can say that, what do you think is the real sentiment at ground level? What do you think is the true sentiment of those who do not live in gated compounds and are exposed, every day of their wretched lives, to the brutality of the predators?

It is really easy to explain both the boldness and desperation of Mr. Aquino’s hecklers.


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  1. DAP is unconstitutional plain and simple.The president took an oath to uphold and depend the constitution.DAP should be audited.If DAP was done in good faith how come they are not transparent.There is a need for a real FOI law.

  2. Hecklers can be good if only their motive is fair and clear. If the nation’s suffering is the subject then it’s but fair that their complaints should be more directed to the PDAF endorsers.

    Lest we forgot that PDAF was once questioned during GMA term and what was the verdict of SC? It is constitutional. That was then but not now. NOW – Only by stroke of luck when a Ben Hur came forward to reveal the “political machinery” that siphons the then “legal” PDAF. DAP was found to be illegal yes. But it was only when PDAF was found illegal first (though SC declared it constitutional beforehand). I am just grateful that a BenHur was found and maybe was forced to reveal what he knows.

    Aren’t you even pondering? What if there was no Ben Hur? Everyone in the Legislative Branch are getting their 70 and 200 million continuously up to now and some (who knows how many) are forever stealing peoples money. I’d like to guess that even the justices in SC do not know this PDAF scheme, but has an idea of the commissions of the “endorsers”. Now becoz “the beans had been spilled” Prosecutions are happening only later, when billions had already been squandered.

    Have you ever imagined? What if the NBI that “handled” the case of BH were still corrupt? Then JLN millions could have bribed her way out of the mess. Then all the billions of pesos that (I believe) that are now safe in the government could have been continually going to the hands of the “established political & corrupt officials”. And not many of the population know and could not have known, it has been going on for years
    and years.

    I am for whatever is happening. I don’t care who is found guilty. Lets support the Ombudsman and the Sandigan Bayan that they will be guided by the Great One above, if only we Pinoys can hope for a BETTER PHILIPPINES> This can be the only chance we have. Mabuhay ang Bagong Pilipinas!!!!.

  3. Rocky Coronel on

    The critics of this administration include the left, the political and religious opposition groups, the sympathizers of the past regime, the victims of ‘Daang Matuwid’ campaign and the antagonists who have legitimate reasons to get angry. Except for the left who had always been the enemy of the state until a true blood revolutionary is elected in office, the rest of the opposition are motivated by individual reason mostly focusing on faults of the administration, totally disregarding what ever accomplishments it had done. Unless we dissect the very root of our dissatisfaction, we will never have an administration that is acceptable and will always be a divided people because the loosing groups would always be out to find any opportunity to bring down the current administration.

  4. Heklers are better than paid media,talk without action is useless!saludo ako sa left kahit papaano gumagawa sila at inilalagay nila ang sarili kahit sa kapahamakan masabi lang nila angmaling gginagawa ng gobyerno,media, pera at salary kaya sila nagsusulat!period!

  5. This government hates hecklers, they think they are loved, they believe they have created wealth in this country. Im telling you if it wasnt for ofw’s this country would be bankrupt. Where is this economic growth, where are all these jobs. Look at the daily wages of normal people in this country. Its not there & it isnt getting there. If money wasnt being stolen in huge amounts from this country by its elected government & was spent on infrastructure & the basicks the poor need then you would see change in this country. You would also see foreigners wanting to invest in this country & that would greatly help with the prosperity of this country. No im sorry this country has a long ong road ahead & this government needs to open its eyes & listen when the people are complaining. Dont punish hecklers they are good, do the right things & you wont get heckled.

    • Dustin: I am an OFW. I’m proud that I contributed something in our economy. I personally seen the difference before Aquino and previous administration. Come here in Davao. Matagal naging mayor si Duterte. Maraming administration ang kanyang pinagdaanan. Ngayon ko lang ramdam ang asenso. Mabilis ang daloy ng pondo dahil sa DAP. Maraming road rehabilitations and widening ang ginagawa ngayon. Kabikabila ang pagpapatayo ng mga malls at subdivisions. Maraming trabaho ang nabuo. Congested na ang airport namin dahil maraming tayo ang dumarating araw-araw.
      Baka corrupt pa rin ang lider mo sa iyong komunidad kaya hindi mo pa rin ramdam ang asenso sa lugar mo. Mabubuhay ka sa sweldo mo dito kung simple lang ang pamumuhay mo at kunti lang anak mo. Wala na ang mga naglalakihang billboard “thru the effort of congressman”. Ibig sabihin wala na ang mga epal at namumulitikang kurakot!