First of all you wonder indeed what really motivates Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III. No less than the Inquirer described last night’s address to the nation as a “a rare public address on prime time TV”.
A rare public address.
Indeed, it is quite noteworthy that considering that it was akin to pulling teeth to get the Prayerful One out of his mancave to deliver the same in the midst of the most horrifying calamities and most pressing crises that hit the Philippines under his watch, that he would come out and do this rare act to defend his sorry ass is quite revealing of his character. It seems President BS Aquino is motivated by nothing more than self-preservation. Well, preservation of himself and his feudal clan’s embattled assets to be more specific.
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In short, when it comes to defending himself and his family’s interests, BS Aquino will come out on national TV.
So what exactly was the bottomline of the Reluctant One’s droning speech last night? It was this gem, according to the same Inquirer report:
“I am not a thief.”
“The issue here is theft. I am not a thief,” he declared in a fiery 12-minute speech that purportedly sought to set the record straight on the controversial economic stimulus program whose constitutionality has been questioned in the Supreme Court and the special funds that critics describe as the President’s pork barrel.
“Those who have been accused of stealing are those who are sowing confusion; they want to dismantle all that we have worked so hard to achieve on the straight path,” he said.
“We were stolen from, we were deceived—and now we are the ones being asked to explain? I have pursued truth and justice, and have been dismantling the systems that breed the abuse of power—and yet I am the one now being called the ‘Pork Barrel King?’”
Fair enough. Any citizen of our fine republic is entitled to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty (though there’s irony in that too that we will not get into in this piece).
But this is not about guilt. This is about consistency in one’s politics.
Pork barrel may, as far as the Anointed One’s two-cent legal opinion goes, be legal. But there is a bigger principle at stake here than legality. There is the issue of the public trust — the same notion that underpinned all arguments that rationalised all the shortcuts and dodgy approaches that were applied, for example, to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The entire process that led to his ouster was driven by politics first and legality a far second.
So too then should politics — not legalese — be the locomotive for driving the next steps to be taken now that the public have withdrawn their trust from this government en masse. President BS Aquino was entrusted to defend the Constitution and serve as guardian of the Philippine Government’s trusted place in the hearts and minds of Filipinos as an institution to look up to. He has failed in that role and now the nation today staggers under the weight of a corruption scandal the vast vast scale of which utterly dwarfs any in this sad nation’s history.
The fact that sticks out the most, like a bright yellow spot on a black background, is that President BS Aquino has it in his power alone to put an end to this appalling crisis. All he has to do is say the word and sign on the dotted line, and the pork barrel — in its various guises as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or that shadowy beast, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), will be gone (at least for this financial year, at best until his term ends in 2016).
It’s time BS Aquino proves he is a man and not some brat raised by a couple of dead politicians.
Once he’s learned to be a man then, perhaps, he could learn to be a leader. But let’s give the little boy a break and at least allow him to take that first step — to man up…
“If you think that this will stop me from going after you, if you think that you can divert the public’s attention, if you think you can get away with stealing from our countrymen—you have sorely underestimated me and the Filipino people,” he said.
“If there still remains some vestige of kindness in your hearts, I hope that you stop acting in self-interest, and instead act to help your fellowmen.”
Such schoolboyish words have no place in Philippine politics. President BS Aquino comes across as quite presumptuous in his use of the words “me and the Filipino people”. Is he really on the same side as “the Filipino people”? Of course there are enough idiots in this nation of starstruck ignoramuses who will gleefully lap up BS Aquino’s BS about being God’s gift to “the Filipino people”.
And just to correct the President with some due respect; no, Filipinos do not underestimate you. Rather they have foolishly overestimated your ability to lead.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.