The colossus astride the archipelago is now a has-been

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HOME time flies. How the mighty have fallen. These are the two verities that people now associate with President Aquino, now cocooned in his Palace, a lonely and isolated leader. The reversal of his political fortunes, from a colossus astride the archipelago determined to leave a permanent leadership imprint on his country and people to the Palace bunker where is now, happened so swiftly that the presidency was rendered clueless on what to do next.

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From respected to reviled, with the calls for his resignation mounting and gaining traction by the day, Mr. Aquino was so used to bending the country to his will that he does not know how to react to the sad, tragic turn of his presidency. The fact that he is surrounded by what former Senator Joker Arroyo has called a “student council”—a Cabinet lacking in sophistication and strategizing ability—makes the adjustment to an embattled status tougher.

Mr. Aquino had no inkling, not a bit, not a tiny sliver, that his day will come. Let us go back to where he started.

In 2010, Mr. Aquino was the Pied Piper many of us would follow anywhere. If his calls for reform and the passionate plea to the nation to help him end a string of kleptocracies were not stirring enough, the backdrop and the imagery of his presidential campaign – a martyred father and a respected mother and former president – convinced voters he would not let down that legacy.

Even the tortured formulation of his campaign slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” was ignored by voters who, under normal circumstances, would have demanded for a more civil political tongue, a leader campaigning, not in turgid prose, but in poetry. Even in in 2010, we, from the marginal sectors, all knew that the personal integrity of a president cannot move the needle much on poverty alleviation. To rein in poverty, we all knew this, a president had to jettison the weak social safety nets and improve on them in a profound and radical manner. A president had to raise wages to decent levels and copy the French and Swedish models on how to genuinely help the vulnerable.

“Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” we knew this even then, cannot stand the test of evidence and empiricism. We hungered so much for change that we all said “pass” to the egregious claims of Mr. Aquino’s campaign slogan.

Many of us, desperate for a leader who would lift us out of the political wasteland, cast all our doubts aside and voted him to the presidency.

Mr. Aquino was off to an auspicious, bold start. He initiated the impeachment of a sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, then lined up the vast powers of the presidency behind the impeachment effort. The meticulous research that supported the impeachment effort uncovered tons of documents that showed Mr. Corona owning up sums of money and property beyond his means.

If there is one thing that Filipinos loath about their leaders is this – unexplained wealth. After the House voted to impeach, the Senate tried Mr. Corona and found him guilty.

The very state machinery that haunted Mr. Corona was unleashed next on an unsuspecting Congress, his ally in the Corona impeachment. Busloads of evidence showed that many senators and congressmen exchanged their SAROs for hard cash with a slick operator named Janet Napoles. A massive COA audit showed the unprecedented abuse of SAROs, more than P10 billion worth of SAROs were ceded to Napoles’ phony cooperatives in exchange for hard cash. The Special Audit Report, which was released with the apparent go-signal from the Palace, tainted Congress, a co-equal branch of government.

Three senators, including Mr. Enrile, have been detained for ceding their SAROs to Napoles. Several dozens have been indicted for plunder and graft and the latest to be detained is a siting governor. The high-profile investigations against members of Congress had a natural consequence, the singular role of the executive branch, headed by Mr. Aquino, in purging official corruption.

Until the revelation that Mr. Aquino himself masterminded the creation of DAP, an equally obnoxious mechanism to enable the executive department to juggle funds around using a flimsy legal cover. The unraveling of the DAP showed that Mr. Aquino is concerned with the proper use of public funds only when he and the executive branch are not the spending party.

DAP planted the initial seeds of doubt on his leadership. But what rankled people most was his inability to connect with his people, more so those in a state suffering. While Mr. Aquino basked in his associations with success and achievement, from inaugurating towering office towers to assembly plants to BPO centers, anything that said “weak and vulnerable” was invisible to Mr. Aquino.

The President who we thought would champion the weak and the vulnerable was more concerned about impressing his friends in the Makati Business Club and the Davos crowd than caring after his people.

The hard charging, growth-at-all-cost, success-centric president found his Waterloo in an act of imperial overstretch – playing policeman and soldier without knowing the terrain. The senseless death of 44 SAF officers in Maguindanao’s Slough of Despond magnified two things: the sense of presidential hubris and his lack of connection with the victims of a great tragedy.

Mr. Aquino, with no evidence that he stole from public coffers, will be president until 2016. Bungling, insensitive presidents are not impeached. Hubris is not an impeachable offense. Nor is there a will on the part of the people to storm the Palace gates to force him out.

But for all intents and purposes, he is no longer the colossus astride the archipelago. People are just warily waiting it out, waiting for 2016 to end for the peaceful handover of power. The emperor has no clothes.

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19 Comments

  1. Now is the time to look for somebody to replace abnoy ,someone who is pure untainted
    And incorruptible but then again those were the same criteria that got Cory and abnoy
    Elected.

  2. …. I can hardly wait until PNoy steps down from presidency to account for his misdeeds and unlawful actions in a jail.

  3. Your opinion is based on a premise that differs with ours. The trhee senators were imprisoned not because of DAP but because they pocketed money which were not theirs. The imprisonment of once untouchables is a first and unmatched by any former President. FVR rightfully can claim that with the dismantling of old monopolies in many industries, business was liberalized. Reduction and better elimination of corruption, liberalizes people’s resources in whatever form that are used productively for development that lead to dismantling of chains of poverty. I know that you know this but what does blind you? This administration is not perfect definitely but can we please be objective in our comments?

  4. This made me remember lines as Jesus prayed at the gardens of Gethsemane from the play Jesus Christ Superstar -” then I was inspired, now I’m sad and tired..”

  5. He did not win the election. The original tally was Villar, Erap, Pnoy. The hocus picos reversed the tally. In the Senate Gordon was leading, while Poe is at the tail end but actually won. I also recalled that during Marcos time most in high society calls Imelda Ms. 10% because as they say, she will always ask that percentage on any business interest in the country, during the time of cory, however, it went up to 30% on all leading business giants, and now for Pnoy and his minion it’s 100%.

  6. Amnata Pundit on

    GUADALUPE is right, he was never a colossus. The fact that you mistook a retarded imp for a colossus is more a reflection of you than of him, and shouldn’t that worry you? And one more thing, his fall started when he demonstrated his unfitness with his mishandling of the Yolanda relief operation. All intelligent men have regrets, but the one area where a really intelligent man should not have any regret is in the political choices that he made.

  7. Let us validate this in the next survey: do people still trust the president? This will be more empirical than your opinion. Let’s wait.

  8. The utter failure of Aquino as president is a tragic lesson for all of us. We must elect presidents who are intelligent, have manage skills, and can relate to normal people.

  9. If he wants to deodorize his remaining term, he should fire
    his spokespeople, That would be a good start !

    If he adds a majority of his cabinet, Alleluia !!

    Think positive !!!

  10. The bigger question is: From one Aquino (1986) to another (2016) has the situation of the Philippines and the Filipinos improved or deteriorated? I say deteriorated, what about you?

  11. P, Akialamiro on

    In a way, we deserved what we get. Everyone should think seriously about who should be candidates and who should be elected. Another mistake would be an irreversible disaster for the country. Candidates for President should undergo physical and psychological testing to avoid the same mistake.

  12. BS Aquino III may not be charged with stealing public funds yet. But in my book, a President who kept a P1 trillion un-audited presidential pork barrel, and who refuses to show an audit of how he spent it, is BIG THIEF!

    • i agree with you jose. hindi lang yung may ibendensyang nagpayaman sa posisyon nya ang korup pati yung nagpikit mata sa mga kaibigan, kabarilan, kaklase, kamaganak na nangungurakot ay isa ring korap. corruption is also the creation of dap to bribe his way in congress

  13. Benigno Aquino 3rd! Pangalan hindi malilimutan ng tao!mas malaki pa sa kanyang mga magulang!
    Ang taong nagturo ng tama at mali! Gumising sa lahat,nagpabago sa kalalakaran ng politika!
    Maraming na suklam!
    Ito ang taong kaiba sa lahat! maraming kapalpakan nagawa,pero ito ang taong nagawang kontrolin ang mga buhaya at mga ganid at mapasunod niya ng parang maamong tupa!
    Sa darating na panahon may makikita din maganda sa mga ginawa niya!
    Sa ngayon ang sumira sa kanya ay pride at ego niya!
    Sa panahong darating!
    Malalaman kong baliw ba siya o genius?

  14. True, the bungling incompetent fake president has fallen. And true, he never thought his day will come. But he was never a colossus. He was a just an ambitious psychopathic misfit too big for his breeches. It was just the wrong perception of the nation that he could amount to someone respectable as a leader. We were all proven wrong. His hubris was all he brought to the presidency. His hallucinations of himself as a superman and “God’s best gift to the nation” deluded him to play God with us UNTIL God Himself stepped in and put him in his right place. Which is down below the abyss of Hades, where everyone defying God had fallen.

    We see this poor Abnoy now as he is, without the trappings of his pretenses – an incompetent mentally deranged fool who doesn’t deserve to stay a minute longer in the seat of power. He ought to STEP DOWN if the country is to survive.

    • Glad to read that you use, what I thought and always described PNoy, that is PSYCHOPATHIC. With HUBRIS, PNoy is an abominable president. It makes me puke with sadness to think that we have this obnoxious president. I supported him initially, but now my support for PNoy RUNS OUT. NADA, NIL, CAPUT, ZERO. A year and few a dew months are a long time to wait since PNoy is in a quagmire of errors daily.