You thanked your hairdresser for that?

Ben D. Kritz

Ben D. Kritz

I have it on good authority, Mr. President, that taking care of a streamlined hair layout is not really too difficult. You sit down in the chair, you tell the man to throw a number one at you (or a number two, if you prefer the shaggy look), you’re done in about five minutes – three-and-a-half, if the barber uses both hands.

I don’t know what happened to you, but see, that’s the kind of scrutiny you start to invite by trying to convince everyone that your standards should be their standards, and that by those standards, some basic responsibility of your government has been satisfied.

President BS Aquino 3rd devoted most of the latter part of his windbaggery on Monday to individually thanking his Cabinet officials and many of his personal staff. Deep well of material for comedy writers though it may be, it was a nice gesture and one of those glimpses, which have become increasingly rare as the years have gone by, of a genuine human personality behind the creepy marionette he most often appears to be.

Personal staff is one thing. Most of us forget all the “little people,” whether they’re in our employ or not, that actually make our lives and work possible. Those that work for the President are not government officials, they’re people doing jobs, and judgments of their output are subjective. It doesn’t matter what someone else thinks of Aquino’s hairdo, if the person who cleans him up thinks he looks good and the President thinks he looks good, then exactly everyone who needs to approve of the look has signed on, and the job’s successfully done.

That is not the case, however, with Cabinet secretaries. Aquino devoted about 550 words—four entire paragraphs—of his speech to praising DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for his excellent work, lamenting that the “complicated challenges” of the MRT had taken attention away from his achievements.

And what were those? Aquino first thanked Abaya for “all that you have done for our sailors,” and then highlighted the lifting of restrictions on Philippine aviation by the international regulator ICAO, the US, and the EU (which are all really the same thing, despite Aquino’s attempt to make three achievements out of them), and for issuing a rule that boats and ships may not sail in a typhoon.

Those are not achievements. Achievements are things that are planned ahead of time, and when accomplished, result in a positive change in the status quo. Achievements are not solutions to problems that one creates himself, and achievements are not things that, if not accomplished, will necessarily be failures to fulfill objective responsibilities.

To use just one of those three “achievements” as an example, the downgrade of the Philippine aviation sector by US Federal Aviation Administration was, indeed, an inherited problem, but the ICAO’s issuance of “significant safety concerns” only happened after the international auditors developed grave concerns about the evident politicization of management positions in the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, in late 2010.

In other words, BS Aquino thanked Jun Abaya for cleaning up his mess, and tried to pass that off to the rest of us as a positive step in the development of the nation’s transportation environment.

The most infuriating thing about the past five-plus years of the Aquino presidency has been watching most of the public, the media, and the business community let him get away with “Hey, I tried,” as cover for a sometimes willful lack of performance, and worse, buying into the spin that because the results are acceptable to him personally, they represent policy achievements.

No, they do not. BS Aquino 3rd has half-assed his job—a job he wanted and fought hard for, and has treated as his personal kingdom—since day one of his term, and has left his successor a huge mess to clean up. Aquino was hoping this speech would close the books on his term and let him avoid further scrutiny, but all it did was invite us to take a harder look at what he’s done, and what the next aspirant to the big chair will need to do to fix it.


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  1. The SONA of BS Cojuangco Aquino III, must be like a seranade of sweet refrain falling on the ears of Jim Paredes and of those who continue to belie the truth that this president and his administration has over failed miserably to give the country the economic upheaval, given that the national budget had reached into trillions of pesos.

    The only sign seen throughout these years of being under this pseudo-democratic government is the signs of a quasi-martial law regime – a government rift with rubber duckies and swines.

    To cap it all, SONA was a political fashion show.

  2. Aquino corrupted the SONA completely. He delivered a political speech when he was required to give the State of the Nation. He did not talk about the biggest event of the past year, when he led 44 SAF policemen to their death. He did not talk about what we need to do to achieve Justice for the fallen 44 or the status of rebuilding caused by Yolanda. He turned it all into a talk about friends, even mentioning his barber and yaya. This my friends is how to take government processes and change them to do something for you. This is corruption.