Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino’s speech to welcome Pope Francis was outrageously inappropriate. It was so wrong. Some of us didn’t see it coming. It was shocking to hear him talk about himself and complain about how some of the members of the Church in the country are being mean to him. Who would have thought the President would use what was supposed to be a solemn occasion to badmouth his political enemies once again in the presence of the leader of the Catholic Church?
But quite frankly, we should have known BS Aquino would not miss an opportunity to blame the country’s previous administrators as well as his critics in his speeches. Putting others down is something he does in an effort to lift his own image up to those gullible enough to believe him. Sometimes some of us still get surprised at his insensitivity though.
BS Aquino accused the members of the Church of turning a blind eye to the transgressions during former President Gloria Arroyo’s term:
He described as “a true test of faith when many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which we are still trying to rectify to this very day,” in obvious reference to his predecessor, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is under hospital on plunder and graft charges.
“In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin. Is it any wonder then, that they see the glass not as half-full, or half-empty, but almost totally empty. Judgment is rendered without an appreciation of the facts.”
First of all, was BS Aquino advocating for the Church to meddle in state affairs in his speech? It seems he was blaming the members of the Catholic Church for the corruption during the previous administration. Second, the record shows BS Aquino was not very vocal against corruption when he was a member of Congress during Arroyo’s term. In fact, he was seen to be an ally of Arroyo when he was still a Congressman even voting against playing the notorious “Hello Garci” tapes that could have contributed to achieving closure to the election fraud allegations against Arroyo during a congressional hearing. In fact, as a member of Congress, he could have done more to stop corruption because he was in a position of influence compared to members of the Church who do not have legislative powers.
It is worth highlighting how BS Aquino contradicted himself during his speech. At one point, he was admonishing the members of the Church for being “silent” against corruption and then the next he was complaining about them for being critical against his administration. He can’t accept that the reason he gets criticized is because of the corruption that is happening during his term.
It is indeed unfortunate that the Philippines is being led by a self-righteous man. Obviously, BS Aquino won’t even think Pope Francis’s call “to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor” was addressed to him and his own cabinet members.
Like a true statesman, Pope Francis was wise enough not to react to his host’s — BS Aquino’s — subtle tantrums against members of the Church in the Philippines. Regrettably, BS Aquino is not wise enough to realize that Pope Francis must know a thing or two about the corruption scandals in the current administration that has been making the news both locally and globally. I’m sure the pontiff does his homework before visiting a particular country and is also updated by his own clergymen. Plus, the result speaks for itself. No amount of window dressing can change the fact that despite BS Aquino’s slogan “where there is no corruption, there is no poverty”, poverty levels in the Philippines remain unchanged. Following BS Aquino’s logic, that means corruption levels also remain unchanged.
A lot of people are wondering if BS Aquino will ever stop blaming former Presidents for his own shortfalls. Former President Marcos has been dead for two decades now and there had been four Presidents after him but BS Aquino still blames him for the ills in the land. It has been three decades since he was ousted. Those three decades should have been enough time for the Philippines to be transformed from Third World to First.
Evidently, without the Marcoses or past administrators to blame, BS Aquino has only himself to blame for country’s problems. We all know that accountability is not a word that he is familiar with. He would rather continue to blame others and look like a fool in the process than accept responsibility for the lack of progress in the country.
Once again, BS Aquino has proven that he is not the leader that can unite Filipinos. He has turned an otherwise peaceful and unifying occasion into a vindictive one. It’s a pity Pope Francis had to witness the ugly truth about the Philippine president.
[Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.]
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