In a previous article, I noted how Manuel Buencamino, a noted apologist of the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III attempted to debunk a remark made by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri that highlighted Aquino’s lack of any sort of vision (the type that refers to the future) for the Philippines. Zubiri said that Noynoy has “no clear vision for our country” and “no 2020 agenda”, much less one “even for 2015.” He compared this sorry record with former President Fidel V. Ramos who, at least, had a Philippines 2000 to present to Filipinos during his watch.
Poor guy, this Buencamino. He thought he’d go into his usual “witty” (by Pinoy standards) style of blogging on Propinoy.net to come to the defense of his beleaguered manok. The results of this “effort” were, to put it quite kindly, flaccid. I summarised my takeaway from Buencamino’s blog thus…
All makes for a good old-fashioned Pinoy style case of expert grandstanding. But then synthesise all that and what have you got? One citation of a clichÃ© inititative [i.e. involving some form of “crusade” against corruption] that every President and his dog sloganeered about during their campaign and two counter-arguments against Zubiri’s “suggestions”.
But as to the whole original point of “Senator” Zubiri’s musings; that is,
The mystery of the postulated existence of Noynoy’s vision for the Philippines
Seems like even Buencamino is left scratching his pointed head when it comes to that question.
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To be fair to Buencamino, most Filipinos and foreign observers are still scratching their heads trying to postulate the existence of Noynoy’s vision for the Philippines of 2016 and beyond. And we are well on our way into the eleventh month of Noynoy’s presidency.
Despite much noise about the fall of Ombudsman What’s-Her-Name, The Economist is not impressed, simply observing that all that “reflects the presidentâ€™s approach to fighting corruption, which is to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crimes in future.” Furthermore;
Mr Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system. His administrationâ€™s reasoning is that the institutions for fighting corruption already exist; they just need to be put to work properly.
Recent history gives little reason to think his approach will succeed. Mrs Arroyo had her predecessor as president, Joseph Estrada, prosecuted for corruption, and the countryâ€™s special court for trying graft cases, the Sandiganbayan, sentenced him to life in prison. Mrs Arroyo subsequently pardoned him. In last yearâ€™s presidential election, Mr Estrada came second.
The institutions in which Mr Aquino puts his faith have brought dozens of cases against Imelda Marcos. None has succeeded in putting her behind bars.
For a top-notch think tank journal like The Economist, that’s not really what I’d call groundbreaking insight. But then in a credential-beholden society (where people are regarded more on the basis of the acronyms on their business cards or the labels and jargon they parrot off their philosophy and economics textbooks than on any real semblance of substance), those words will surely echo far and wide.
For his part, Doy Santos (a.k.a. The Cusp), Buencamino’s vastly more insightful colleague in Propinoy.net had enough material on Noynoy’s non-vision Presidency to fill a detailed three-part series of blogs on the subject.
In Part 1: “The Vision Thing“, Santos suggests that the President needs “a roadmap that focuses on the big picture and provides substance beyond the spin” and that this is “something which is sorely lacking at the moment.”
In Part 2: “Curing dysfunctionalism“, Santos recommends that the President “address personality-based factionalism that has led to organizational dysfunction within his team.”
And in Part 3: “Credible commitment“, Santos observes “several commitment problems in the strategy and vision of the benevolent oneâ€™s regime” and then proceeds to outline several key recommendations on how to move forward,
The bottom-line of the whole series being…
Beyond the 24 hour news cycle, the palace has to focus on the long-term frame. The president himself needs to devote a good proportion of his time and energy in developing this grand vision and oversee the development of a roadmap that brings us closer to it within the next five years.
Santos’s and The Economist‘s assessments of the last several months of the Second Aquino Presidency cast long, broad, and very dark shadows over any counter-argument put forth by the vast Yellow Army of Aquino Apologists — counter-arguments that for the most part cannot seem to go beyond sexing up an unimaginative anti-corruption campaign that Buencamino describes as one that is “bringing back a sense of shame, propriety, and delicadeza” or, get this, “eradicating the climate of impunity where vermin thrived and prospered.”
Even any dismissal of Ramos’s “Philippines 2000” campaign as mere “sloganeering” whether fair or not fades into inconsequence when placed in the context of Noynoy’s no-results track record so far — something that Amando Doronila points out in a recent piece…
Ramos was never famous for his rhetorical eloquence. (There are few memorable and quotable passages in his speeches.) He drew a concrete program of tangible projects, backed by solid engineering studies, and put in a lot of homework on these plans. By contrast P-Noy shuns homework, giving more importance to the charisma of the democratic restoration legacy of his mother, hoping that his electoral mandate, tremendously helped by this aura of Edsa 1, would deliver results and perform miracles for him, based on wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking and prayer, Mr Doronila.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Indeed, Noynoy Aquino has been on the defensive about his “different” working style since Day One when he was marked early in the honeymoon stage of his Presidency for his late morning starts and habitual tardiness. His most recent bout of blubbering over the unfair treatment he cops from the Media about his work ethic comes across like something a little boy stammering to explain to his teacher why he had not done his homework would say…
Before reading a prepared speech at a conference of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) at Marriott Hotel in Pasay City, he told his audience about two â€œcriticalâ€ newspaper columns that, he said, implied that â€œI donâ€™t work hard enough.â€
â€œFor their information, this is my third engagement for the day,â€ Mr. Aquino said of his noontime appearance at the ECOP conference. â€œI started out rising at 5:30 in the morning not because I have to plant some seeds but because I have to board a plane by 6:30 to go to the wakes of two of our party matesâ€”one in Cebu, one in Samar.â€
Whatever you say, Mr President. Whatever you say.
Perhaps the only thing that can arrest Noynoy’s slide down a popularity slope that is getting steeper and more slippery as each month passes (the primary concern of his bloated team of handlers) is to lead an assault team into a foreign country to kill a top terrorist leader or marry a European princess. But even if he manages to pull those off, will he have answered the question of The Vision Thing? Mr Manuel Buencamino may have to work a bit harder to come up with his next “witty” response to that question.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.