Understanding President Aquino


I am aware of this: that no words will suffice to explain the deaths of our brave policemen. A report or a speech can never reflect the entirety of what is felt by a parent who lost a good child. All I can do, after saying all that must be said, and after doing all that must be done, is to ask for your deep understanding.
–President Benigno Aquino 3rd at Philippine National Police Academy graduation

SHOULD the nation understand and not blame President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his actions in the bloody Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos, which has imperiled the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?

Yes, we should understand why Aquino botched the dangerous operation, insists on shirking blame, and keeps repeating his version of events despite contradictory facts.

First of all, let’s remember he never showed any aptitude or inclination for the presidency until after his mother died in August 2009. Then, suddenly, public sympathy and media exposure turned him from mediocre scion of fabled parents to frontrunner in election surveys.

Can we now blame him for continually failing in presidential leadership and intelligence, especially in crisis stiuations?

We chose a leader with zero track record
Aquino never managed an organization of note, as Fidel Ramos did as Armed Forces Chief and Secretary of National Defense, and Joseph Estrada as San Juan City mayor. He never authored any major policy legislation, as Gloria Arroyo did as senator for measures in agricultural modernization, trade liberalization, and privatization.

He certainly faced major crises: his father Ninoy’s incarceration and assassination, and the seven coup attempts against his mother Cory, including two bloody ones. In one he himself was wounded. But he never had to manage any of them.

Aquino’s lack of significant leadership experience, sophisticated policy expertise, and sound crisis management shows in Mamasapano. He risked the Mindanao peace process in a highly dangerous mission, then let a suspended PNP chief and a mid-level commander take charge. And when the going got rough, he lost nerve and poise, then scrambled to shift blame away from himself, as he did in other crises.

Thus, the nation now sees what we should have known from the start: Aquino was never presidential material. And for his repeated failings in leadership, we have only ourselves to blame for electing him. (Those who think he actually has done well as president should read the four-part article “Busting the Aquino myths”, found at http://www.manilatimes.net/custom-search/page/2/?search=RICARDO%20SALUDO.)

We cheered Aquino’s law-breaking
But some may argue that despite his lack of leadership and crisis experience, Aquino should have at least followed rules and made sure that all duly constituted authorities were involved and informed in the PNP Special Action Force mission.

Yes, Aquino should have known better. But then, if the public and the media have largely tolerated, if not celebrated his breaking of laws in the past four years, can he be blamed if he again played fast and loose with the rules in the SAF operation?

After all, Aquino got away with far more serious violations like bribing Congress, disregarding a Supreme Court restraining order, and spending billions of pesos in public funds on unbudgeted items.

If one could brazenly undermine the Constitution’s principle of separation of powers, break anti-bribery laws, and trash the Rules of Court on judicial orders, what’s the big deal about ignoring a mere suspension order from the Ombudsman or sidestepping the PNP chain of command?

Again, the nation showed little concern when Aquino flouted the law. Indeed, one top columnist even declared that Aquino would go down as the second-best Philippine president, and urged the Supreme Court to let him off the hook in the Disbursement Acceleration Program case, despite the writer’s view that DAP was illegal.

So let us please be understanding toward Aquino’s disregard of the Ombudsman’s ruling and the PNP command structure, and see where the real fault lies: the people and the media’s silence plus the cheering of a good number when the President made mincemeat of established laws, rules, conventions and institutions.

We tolerated repeated untruths
The citizenry is also unhappy with President Aquino’s dubious explanation of his actions during the SAF debacle. Nearly half find it inadequate, according to a Pulse Asia poll, which is another way of saying they don’t believe him.

And why should one believe Aquino, who admits responsibility for the Fallen 44, but repeatedly blames relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas, later adding presidential friend and suspended-then-resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima when the public didn’t buy his ploy of pinning all the blame on Napeñas.

Yet before we again lambast Aquinos dissembling, we must understand that huge segments of the public and the media swallowed his past untruths.

Early in his rule, Aquino claimed he bought a used Porsche, but never produced the sportscar’s registration papers. He stopped a Belgian flood control project to dredge Laguna lake, alleging anomalies, but never issued a cancellation order explaining why.

Even Pope Francis had to hear Aquino falsely accuse Filipino bishops of keeping silent about issues under then-President Gloria Arroyo. And he called her rule a “lost decade” before global investors who knew that his own economic gains owed much to her tax reforms, infrastructure program, and business process outsourcing boom.

Again, after initial controversy, few raised howls over these and many other presidential fibs. So Aquino feels he can dish out more, and many will still swallow his story.

In sum, as the President pleaded, we must understand why he failed the 44, flouted the law, and foisted unlikely tales about Mamasapano. We are to blame for electing, tolerating and cheering him.

But enough’s enough. Filipinos must now debunk untruths, enforce rules, and elect the truly capable. And Aquino must understand if we move to correct our errors in 2016. Or sooner.


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  1. Some of the things that happened in our country can also be blamed for the lack of political will to enforce the laws and the public’s tolerance of corrupt practices in governance, business and everyday interaction have been going on since we gained our independence.
    Question- Why is it that in the U.S. 4 senators have been aggressive to raise the issue of China’s incursion on the West Philippine Sea while no legislator has done any kind of noise about it in the Philippine congress?

  2. Alejo Rosete on

    Hindi namamana ang pagka presidente.
    WORK FOR IT. Show if you are worth it.

    That is what happened to BS Aquino.
    Sentimental VOTE. What did we get?


  3. Bong bong Marcos has been speaking more like a President lately. Pinoys must take note of this. He will ascend to become a Presidential candidate soon and it is because he earned it. Start from the bottom to rebuild his family name and reputation. Pnoy is different he has too many bosses because he was appointed to his position and his reputation is built and crafted by their media allies.Pnoy is a lamb walking in an African Safari..You cant change carnivores it is their nature.He is wasting his time with the MILF.

  4. People understand that had Mamasapano succeeded, Aquino would have been selling the BBL like hotcake in Congress and his friend Purisima would have been fully rehabilitated. Now that it failed what is it that Aquino wants us to understand?

  5. Okay na sa akin ang kabobohan, magnanakaw, at katangahan, pero ang hindi ko mapapalampas ay ang TRAYDOR…..

    I will only vote for the candidate whose platform includes a promise to jail this TRAITOR!

    He finally makes it to the front page of http://www.jihadwatch.org

    • Buti pa si Mr Bean nakaka-entertain. Itong si Abnoy kahit na naka front page sa mga balita ayaw mong bigyan ng pansin ang nakalagay sa article kasi alam mong SINUNGALING.

  6. Amnata Pundit on

    He did not ask for this job, it was forced on him by the yellows and the Americans who thought they had found the perfect stooge. its a waste of energy to keep on blaming him. The yellows who have experienced an epiphany brought about by the epic failure of their boy BS and everybody who does not want to see blood spilled in the streets must concentrate their fire on the only thing that will prevent that in this crisis, and that is the election system. If its still Smartmatic that will select the winners in the 2016 elections, I fear for the worst.

  7. Very fair and balanced anaysis! We all deserved what we get. But, where has all those who claim to be leaders and fierce group of fiscalizers gone? PDAF and DAP must have silenced many of them! Kawawa naman ang Pilipinas.

  8. Edgar G. Festin on

    Heto naman ang sang very bright mind, morally upright person and very good writer who ends his very good column with a very BAD paragraph: “But enough’s enough. Filipinos must now debunk untruths, enforce rules, and elect the truly capable. And Aquino must understand if we move to correct our errors in 2016. Or sooner.”

    He has analyzed the gravest threat to our existence as a Republic–President Aquino who seeks understanding but cannot understand anything and anyone.

    But Mr. Saludo still thins electing the truly capable can happen with the Smartmatic-PCOS machines in control of the precinct-level election results.

  9. I am trying to understand Aquino, but find it so difficult. For instance, why does he blame Gloria Arroyo for everything that went wrong with his administration and does not credit her for the good economic results that were products of Gloria’s economic policies?

    He finds fault with everybody and exalts himself at every instance, never admitting his mistakes and never apologizing for them.

    He appealed to the people to understand him in his last speech about Mamasapano. But he did not reveal what his role was in the debacle and why he entrusted such an important military operation to a suspended PNP chief, his “kuya” Alan Purisima.

    He begs for understanding but he does not want to tell the truth.

  10. One of the models of leadership Randy David elucidated is the protector-provider. References to the President as father of the nation bear this out as evidence that the Filipino culture have our leaders as protector – provider. According to him this model is a relic from the feudalistic era.

    The Aquino presidency is the turning point from this feudalistic culture in which people look out to the leader for everything and take no personal responsibility of their own action but overall assign them to the leader towards a real democratic leadership.

    This is more about the people waking up to their obligation and responsibility as a citizen to be vigilant how their leader governs, than about Aquino. The advent of technology surely allowed participation in the discussion and dissemination of information. Hopefully the Filipino people had finally move from their adolescent democracy to a adult democracy.

  11. Maria De Leon on

    Sooner, please! Aquino should not be allowed to rule the nation for even one more minute. He’s simply disgusting.

  12. PNoy is a hopeless case, a pathological liar, a psychopath, juvenile, incompetent, incorregible, ignoramus, traitor for BBL sponsorship, egotistic, unreliable, lacks empathy, dismissive, lacks credibility, etc,

  13. How can you understand an IDIOT?
    How can you understand a PCOS President?

    Only idiots understand their fellow idiots – I AM NOT

  14. What understanding?

    To give the order “STAND DOWN”
    and let the soldiers MASSACRED.

    Tell that to the marines.

  15. This article is a very good and eloquent expression of national disgust. Only a person whose disgust is overflowing could have written such a bitter article. I could have written it myself. Indeed, we must be able to rectify our error or the PCOS machines’ error sometime soon. Nothing else is as important and as crucial as this, to promote JUSTICE.