I have been writing about President Noynoy Aquino’s lack of vision and substance even before he got elected. Back then there were only a handful of political pundits who where vocal about his competence levels. And back then, it was so hard to convince Filipinos in general that he didn’t fit the image his public relations machine was projecting him to be. Who would have thought that giving a catchy name like Noynoying to describe PNoy’s work ethic would help convince people not to vote for a dud? I should have realized that marketing gimmicks always work well with most people. I suppose it is easier to give it a name nowadays. After two years in office, the results can speak for itself. The lack of progress under PNoy’s watch is undeniable. There are now quite a number of people who would readily agree that PNoy is slow or doing nothing to face the country’s problems.
It’s hard to tell though if there are indeed more Filipinos who have finally realized that PNoy is not fit for the job. I get this feeling that some are just riding the bandwagon after Noynoying became the trend in various social network sites. These people may not even know what the concept behind the name is about, which is why it is still better to call a dud, a dud. So instead of feeling glad that Filipinos may be starting to demand more from the government, I am feeling a bit wary that this is just another one of those things that make you go hmmm…
To be honest, I feel a little bit annoyed that it is only now that the idea is catching on — the idea that PNoy is not The One. I guess it is easier to deal with this phenomenon by accepting that there are only a small number of people who have foresight. And in the Philippines, that number is even smaller as evident in the number of times Filipinos have been duped into voting the wrong candidate.
Foresight is having the ability to see the consequences of doing something by analysing it first before actually doing it. It’s the ability to plan for the future. Obviously in the Philippines, foresight is not yet the trend. Most Filipinos are only capable of hindsight, which is basically useless especially when you are already stuck with a leader for a good number of years. While most of us already knew from the beginning that it was just a matter of time before the true extent of President Noynoy Aquino’s incompetence was revealed, many, if not all of his supporters are genuinely quite surprised by PNoy’s falling out with the voters. The reason for the falling out is quite simple: PNoy never really had essential leadership and diplomatic skills from the very start. Forget his acing the popularity surveys they keep harping about, because there is only one way but down for this government if they do not listen to their critics.
It’s the people’s fault.
It’s not really fair to expect much from PNoy now. It’s like the idea of someone who marries a bum then expects him to change after the wedding. One can’t really expect that to happen considering that the bum might have been expecting his spouse to accept him for who he is. In PNoy’s case, there were so many signs he wasn’t going to live up to people’s expectations. How could his supporters have missed his reluctance to carry out playing his role? First, staunch Aquinoist supporters had to beg him to run for the presidency. Second, he was averse to joining public debates or forums and even lost his cool when asked complicated questions by moderators or reporters. He always gave the impression that he would rather be somewhere else. This almost always caused him to have a negative mental attitude.
You can’t blame this entire Noynoying fiasco solely on PNoy. The people around him and those who supported his candidacy are to blame too. Like what I have said in the past, there are many ways to try and talk with President Noynoy Aquino’s supporters. Unfortunately, none of them works. They are so caught up with their own narrow view of what is good and evil that they cannot see beyond their flawed reasoning. They did not listen when economists from Bloomberg predicted that Noynoy won’t be good for the economy; they even ignored TIME magazine when they painted a not so good picture of Noynoy when they said that being part of the oligarchy makes him part of the problem; and they definitely ignored bloggers who warned that we might become the butt of jokes if Noynoy gets elected. They definitely came across as anti-intellectual.
Staunch Aquino supporters did not even give PNoy time to grieve after the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino. We recall that immediately after his mother’s funeral, Aquino supporters pleaded with him to run for the highest job in the land even without consideration for his own personal needs.
PNoy’s supporters are very difficult people to deal with. Like cult members, they just kept chanting yellow slogans like, “Noynoy has integrity” or “Noynoy is not corrupt” over and over. No one from among the true Aquino supporters or even those who voted for him because of his high ranking in the surveys heeded the warnings given by genuinely concerned citizens about the risks of having him in Malacañang. Like someone who had been possessed or been under a spell, PNoy’s supporters bought the story line that “The presidency is Noynoy’s destiny” — a belief perpetuated by none other than Noynoy Aquino’s handlers themselves.
In PNoy’s case, he allowed himself to get bullied into accepting the nomination to run. He probably felt he had to live up to the image of his own parents and fulfill the expectations that the people who surround him want him to step up to even if these are beyond his capacity or not in line with his personal wishes. Now he is suffering the consequences of his lack of foresight by being the butt of jokes not just in the Philippines but also coming from international pundits.
Since those who voted for PNoy never really asked him prior to voting him in how he was going to manage the economy, the energy crisis, the population crisis, the environmental crisis, and all the other crises facing the country today, they really can’t do much now but make some noise — noise they should have been making prior to the election. Had they asked all the candidates to come up with a platform months before Election Day, they would have gotten an idea of who best can deal with the problems.
It’s not hard to avoid another PNoy from being voted into the highest position in the land. We just need to plan and think ahead. One can think ahead by asking our candidates to come up with a platform. In the lead up to the 2010 presidential election, blogger Benign0 already came up with an approach to developing one. He outlined the process by using simple terms:
– Understand the situation.
– Take a position.
– Articulate actions.
– Compile into a coherent framework.
How hard could it be, considering that one would at the very least expect a bit of executive management chops in the various characters who are vying for the highest executive position in the land? If we are to expect Filipinos to courageously rally around a serious effort to become a better country in the foreseeable future, it would help to see a leader who has it clear in his or her mind how to get us from A to B.
Fortunately the answer to the above question is a resounding NO. It is not hard.
Coming up with a roadmap that befits a presidential candidate can be described in several easy steps:
STEP 1: Understand the situation and state relevant issues associated with key aspects of the situation.
– Widespread poverty
– lack of employment
– lack of skills
Often a statement describing a “situation” sounds like a description of an “issue”. In the case of the above example, it can be argued that “widespread poverty” is an issue. Thus for the purpose of this exercise we make the following proposed differentiation:
A situation most closely expresses one of a handful of key metrics that quantify or qualify the headings in a platform summary matrix.
An issue describes complications in factors that contribute to a situation. It more closely approaches a challenge that implies a specific solution that would yield specific measureable results. These results in turn contribute to changing the stated situation.
STEP 2: Take positions on relevant issues.
Candidates should state in precise terms how different the parts of the world affected by an issue would look when their envisioned position has been achieved.
– Reduction of birth rate
Note in the above example that the difference implied by the position stated is a lower birth rate compared to the galloping birthrate that describes the situation in the Philippines today.
STEP 3: Articulate actions that can be implemented to achieve the stated position.
Position: Reduction of birth rate
– Mount campaign to de-stigmatise birth control
– Distribute affordable contraceptives.
A statement of action should allow identification of clearly-defined deliverables (e.g. information campaign or condoms supplied to Barangay (community) Health Centres) and outcomes (e.g. positive public response to condom distribution).
STEP 4: Compile and describe a platform in a coherent and internally-consistent framework.
The following diagram illustrates how the examples used above form just a small subset of what should be a comprehensive roadmap for change that a candidate — or political party — should bring to the table.
The principle of MECE (mutually-exclusive, collectively-exhaustive) should be evident in how all the elements of the platform/roadmap are stitched together. This involves careful thinking-through. As such, considering that Filipinos are not known for thinking things through carefully, a politician that is at least able to come up with such a framework that stands up to the standards described here already demonstrates that he or she is different from all the rest.
The challenge, Mr./Ms. Politician is quite simple, reallyâ„¢.
An inability to describe one’s vision beyond quaint slogans and tired platitudes simply highlights the kind of intellectual void that has characterised Philippine politics for the last half-century. The results speak for themselves — in a muted tone that is, considering that there are no results.
I suppose we should all be happy that Noynoying is all the rage. We should see this as an opportunity for all Filipinos to unite. It is an opportunity for everyone to turn their backs to decisions that are just shots in the dark — like that of electing someone who only has a popular name (like “Aquino”) to his credit. It should be plain obvious to us now that PNoy’s lack of experience or expertise does not help him make the necessary decisions in critical situations. As the head of state, experience is not something that can be served on a silver platter to PNoy when he needs it.
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