President Noynoy Aquino’s crooked path justified @JaimeGarch

On his request, I read Jaime Garchitorena’s End of Year Thoughts. The primary payload of Mr Garch’s piece seems to revolve around the notion that to expect any sort of strategic thinking and strategic execution from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is an exercise in utter futility, and therefore, that expectation is best written off for the remaining four and a half years of Noynoy’s term. Indeed, we don’t really need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. As Mr Garch himself observes, even the dim mind of the president did so…

[…] IMHO, even the President knows that to expect all this from him ( strategic or sinister) is ridiculous. I just don’t think he’s capable of that type of thinking or that much thought. I mean that was never his apparent skill set. It’s certainly not what got him elected into office.

I can’t say I disagree with the above observation. Despite the role of Chief Executive that Noynoy currently holds, Filipinos know better than to expect the calibre of performance one would normally expect of a man in such a position from a guy like Noynoy.

Indeed, I agree 100% with Mr Garch…

(a) Filipinos certainly did not vote for Noynoy because he is a brilliant politician.

(b) They did not vote for him because he is the most charismatic of the lot.


(c) They voted for him because he “represented hope for change”.

The above all pretty much constitute an established fact. Noynoy has so far proven to be a lusterless politician and too dull to be considered truly inspiring. But he embodies the Filipino “hope”.

See, Filipinos are a “hopeful” lot. But the trouble with this Pinoy-style hope is that it does not stand up too well to the simple question:

Hope in what exactly?

To be fair to Mr Garch, he attempts to answer the above question. And he starts from the premise that Filipinos want “change”. And presumably by simple virtue of the fact that Noynoy is president, “change is what we’re getting”.

I read the latter half of Garch’s piece with an open mind and found that some key concepts he’s articulated quite lucidly:

(1) Our ingrained embrace of “democracy” is at odds with the shiny engineered efficiency and expeditiousness offered by an authoritarian state like Singapore and the state of our nation almost provides evidence to support a re-evaluation of this stubborn embrace.

(2) Given that an “over-intellectualised” upholding of democratic ideals by its “care takers” (Mr Garch cites two groups of them) over “the last 25 years” failed to deliver any real results, “[t]he President is justified in breaking the standards [i.e. ‘subvert’ certain ‘legalities’] that these two [‘care taker’] groups would like to uphold”.

(3) Evidence that the popular will is behind the President can be inferred from the overwhelming evidence of assent from Congress (“working within the theory of representation”) and a “lack of any strong protests by the public”.

Mr Garch asserts that President Noynoy’s actions enjoy the mandate of the Filipino people to bend democratic rules on the principle that too much democracy and/or flawed application of democratic systems in the Philippines simply did not work over the last 25 years; but that the President’s approach is subject to the following conditions:

– That his intentions are not compromised by an “agenda outside of the welfare of the people”;

– That his actions are “transparent”; and,

– That the Opposition is “given the opportunity to challenge those decisions whether in court or in congress.”

I think this is one of the closer things to a sensible justification of the actions we have so far seen coming out of Malacañang (though I doubt if Noynoy had actually engineered his administration around such a framework on the onset). Like St Thomas Aquinas does with the convolution that is Catholic dogma, the above comes across as an after-the-fact backward-engineering from the interesting situation Noynoy and his team already find themselves in after bumbling their way through much of 2011. But I dare say the framework goes a bit of a significant way to answer my now famous “Hope in what exactly?” challenge in the context of the current regime of Noynoy.

My big IF, however, is a big one, and it comes in a three-component package. The above framework Mr Garch laid out can be executed IF the person who is leading its execution within it is (1) a brilliant politician, (2) an inspiring statesman, and (3) an overall smart guy. Noynoy, unfortunately, is none of the above. Perhaps Noynoy’s administration passes the latter two of the above three conditions (transparency and opportunity to dissent) that Mr Garch stipulates. Unfortunately there is a single elephantine showstopper that compromises the first (no agendas, please) one — Hacienda Luisita.

Too bad. Kapalaran nga naman talaga ng Pinoy.

But nonetheless hats off to the structure you put to the daan Noynoy is paving for us, Mr Garch. Unfortunately, it is a good framework being tested by an incompetent President. Then again, the framework has been used many times before in previous presidencies. What president after all has not circumvented or subverted the Law to get “noble” things done? There is a daan alright, but it is not matuwid and Noynoy is, by your admission, taking it. If Noynoy wants credibility among the minority of Filipinos who think and therefore do not buy any of his campaign platitudes, he should stop pretending to be anything else but the traditional politician that he is as he is simply carrying on a long tradition of justifying the crooked path he is taking in practice in order to justify his “noble” cause.


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