As President Aquino completes his fourth year in office on June 30, one thing surely must be said: his term has not been uneventful.
To the contrary, in the era of BS Aquino, the Filipino nation has been deluged by too many events, too many disasters, too many scandals, never-ending drama, and so many pseudo events.
It has not been a fun ride, contrary to what our tourism promoters may be trumpeting.
Kaleidoscope of events (2010-2014)
In the kaleidoscope of events spanning the period, the following are an indubitable part of the Aquino record:
1. The Manila hostage crisis on August 23, 2010 in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed, followed by a cold war with HK over an apology.
2. The impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona on January 16 –May 28, 2012 that may have turned into quicksand for the administration.
3. The Zamboanga City Crisis or Battle of Zamboanga,
September 9 – Sept 28, 2013.
220 killed (183 rebels, 25 soldiers, 12civilians)
100,000 displaced from their homes
4. The landfall and devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda on November 8, 2013.
One of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing 6,340 (1061 listed missing), 11 million people affected, tens of thousands rendered homeless.
5. The midterm elections on May 13, 2013, which was marred by fraud allegations, based on
(a) the failure of the Commission on Elections to review the source code for voting machines used in the elections, in violation of the Automated Election Systems Law, and
(b) the discovery in the vote canvassing of a “60-30-10” pattern of votes—wherein administration, opposition, and independent senatorial candidates consistently obtained 60 percent, 30 percent, and 10 percent of the votes, respectively.
6. The exposé by whistleblowers of a P10-billion pork barrel scam, the discovery of an even bigger pork barrel scam, and the unmasking of the P170-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino administration; the indictment of senators, representatives, administration officials and various individuals for plunder and malversation of public funds.
7. The hosting by the Philippines of the World Economic Forum in East Asia on May 21-23, 2014, and the dramatic declaration by the Aquino government that the country is “the new Asian economic miracle and tiger economy.”
Perception of these events and developments has varied widely, with the yellow crowd fervently chanting that President Aquino may be the best president we ever had, and those who think he can’t do anything right because of lack of qualifications and a track record.
Beyond these two groups, there is a third group, and this is the rising phenomenon of citizens who supported Aquino in the 2010 elections, but are now suffering voter’s remorse.
Rising cases of voter’s remorse
In his column of May 9, 2014 (“Grim Future”, A Law each Day, Philippine Star, May 9), the lawyer-columnist Jose C. Sison perhaps articulated most clearly and cogently the reasons why so many onetime Aquino supporters are turning away and why they are acutely concerned about recent events and developments in the country.
To give full justice to his point, I quote his column at length. He wrote:
“What is happening in our country now is really a cause for worry about the future of our apos [grandchildren]in this beloved country of ours. Our present state of the nation is definitely very much different from what we were hoping for at the start of P-Noy’s term about 4 years ago.
“At that time we were quite euphoric and full of hope that there will be a genuine cleansing in our government; an actual purging of the dirty and corrupt practices in the government especially the previous graft-ridden administration we had been vainly trying to get rid of. It was the same feeling we had right after the 1986 Edsa people power revolution. Indeed Filipinos considered the election of 2010 as another Edsa except that instead of rallying and demonstrating in the streets, the people went to the polls to oust those in power. Like in the 1986 Edsa people power revolution, people looked up to an Aquino to free us from the oppressiveness of a corrupt and rapacious government; Cory in 1986 and her son PNoy in 2010…
“People feel that it was a bigger mistake to have elected P-Noy as President because of what is happening in our country right now. After four years in office people are not only disappointed because of failed expectations. They are actually disgruntled and angry because the present government appears to be worse than the previous ones not only in the performance of their jobs as public servants, but also and more especially in avoiding and preventing graft and corruption….”
Attorney Sison is not alone in his disappointment with President Aquino. There are many others. And they are voicing their feelings more these days.
Citizens should not wait
At the Tapatan sa Aristocrat media forum the other day, citizens took turns lamenting how the government has dropped the ball and failed our people and our country.
One participant, Junep Ocampo, compelled attention because he is a civil society activist and convenor of several organizations that used to support the president.
He declared: “I was stupid for voting for Aquino in 2010.”
And then he slammed the administration for its incompetence and lack of political will in solving the nation’s problems.
Ocampo described Aquino as blind to the many problems facing the country. Despite the problems staring him in the face, the President has done nothing to address them.
“Our experience from the ‘Yolanda’ devastation and relief operations has clearly shown the government’s incompetence and the Aquino administration’s inefficiency,” he pointed out.
Ocampo believes that the citizenry should move instead of waiting for action from the government to solve their grave concerns, which include poverty alleviation, unemployment and slow economic growth.
His call was echoed by others at the forum, including Pastor Boy Saycom of the Council on Philippine Affairs, who stressed that the administration is failing in providing basic services because its officials have not put their hearts into the challenge.
Political consultant Malou Tiquia of Publicus Asia opined that the economic gains claimed by the administration are being wasted because there are really no social services being provided by the government.
“In spite of his claim that they have gained significant headway in the fight against corruption, I don’t see him ridding the nation of the problem at the end of his term,” Tiquia said.
A lesson from buyer’s remorse
With many of them, disillusionment has replaced the old enthusiasm. Four years of amateurism have made them remorseful.
The awful reality for the President is that one-time true believers, like former lovers, can become the most severe and unforgiving critics.
In contrast with buyer’s remorse, which is acute regret over a purchase, there is no quick remedy for voter’s remorse. The voter will have to go through impeachment and recall and wait for new elections to secure a remedy.
Retailers and merchants have come up with various bandaids to placate remorseful buyers—such as money-back guarantees and cooling-off periods.
In the United States, there are state laws mandating a 3-day window for buyer’s remorse and for returning the merchandise. California has the best consumer protection laws in the US, but there is no cooling-off period for auto sales.
Politics should also develop voter protection laws, so that voter’s remorse can be soothed.