It’s been four years into his so-called “Daang Matuwid” (“straight-and-narrow”) administration with just two years to go to make good on his many unfulfilled promises before he bows out of the office he reluctantly took in 2010. Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III is under an even more powerful magnifying glass now.The country he leads is doing everything but going down that nebulous ‘straight path’ he promised the Filipino people (his ‘Boss’ as he likes to calls them collectively). The government is virtually paralysed by a vast corruption scandal involving the systematic theft of public funds, the likes of which have never been seen in the country’s history since being granted ‘independence’ in 1946. Implicated in this “pork barrel scam” is no less than President BS Aquino’s budget secretary himself, Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad — purported architect of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP); perhaps the single biggest feat of fiscal innovation of Aquino’s government. We will recall that the DAP is seen to be the slushy source of funds used to allegedly buy the “cooperation” of the ‘Senator-Judges’ who presided over the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
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One wonders how the Philippine leader manages to look his global peers in the eye when meeting with them.
Nothing frames lies better than historical context. Back in 2012, CNN journalist Anna Coren interviewed President BS Aquino. Back then the Philippines, was hosting the 45th meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. As my colleague Ilda observed in her article Anna Coren CNN interview: PNoy blames Arroyo but takes credit for her work again, the interesting thing about that event was the way Aquino busied his people building temporary walls to hide Manila’s vast squatter infestation from the dignitaries gracing the occasion. Not a very original idea. Former First Lady Imelda Marocs switched on the light bulb on that one back in the 1970s.
The highlight of Coren’s interview was the way her figetty subject waffled his way through his responses [with thanks to GRP commentor Neil for providing us a link to the detailed interview transcript].
On the subject of the appalling massacre of nine Hong Kong tourists held hostage by mad police officer Rolando Mendoza in Manila in 2010, President BS Aquino was apologetic — on behalf of Mendoza that is…
[Mendoza] was caught in a catch-22 situation. There was a decision adverse to him. He said that he made the motion for a consideration and there is an internal rule that says something like, “has to be acted upon by days”. And it was nine months into the process. He was close to permanent retirement and the penalty was forfeiture of all pay and benefits. He had to get a decision on his motion for a consideration before he could elevate the case. And they never got it.
No surprise then that his buddies in the government found accountable for the tragedy — people who were identified by an inquiry led by no less than his Justice Secretary Leila De Lima — all escaped punishment. It took the diplomacy of former President — now Manila Mayor — Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada to mend the Philippines’ fatally-damaged relationship with Hong Kong (one of the Philippines’ biggest employers of its army of overseas foreign workers).
Speaking of Erap, President BS Aquino had an interesting answer to Coren’s question, “For Gloria Arroyo’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada – he was also charged with corruption, and yet she pardoned him. Will this same happen for Gloria Arroyo if she is found guilty?”…
I think my constituents would not agree with my point of view. And I act only on their wishes.
What exactly does that mean?
Seems like Aquino back then was keeping his options open. Erap is obviously a popular character. And President BS Aquino, himself being beholden to the God of Popularity, aims only to please the ultimate source of said popularity.
So is it the popularity of an idea or its objective logical validity that motivates the actions of President BS Aquino? According to him, it is the latter when it comes to his favourite recreational activity: keeping his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in jail. President BS Aquino tried to convince Coren of this back in 2012: “Now, we believe that the cases we filed are proper, are well evidenced – are well supported by evidence. And that there will be conviction at the end of the process. That sends a message. The most powerful person can wind up in jail.”
Ain’t history a bitch. Fast-forward to today and we find President BS Aquino in a pathetic rush to scrounge around for scarce morsels of “evidence” to make good on that pompous assertion. “My promise to the Filipino people has always been: We will go where the evidence points us to,” he says again. He should’ve reserved that for his up-and-coming cringe speech before the Joint Chambers of Thieves. But BS Aquino is adamant — when it comes to changing the subject that is…
Speaking of the administration’s campaign to root out corruption in the bureaucracy, Mr. Aquino said officials of an agency were also being investigated for their involvement in an anomaly. He declined to give details.
“I’ve ordered an investigation of this agency that really thinks they can pull a fast one on me,’’ he said. “Sorry ha, but I won’t alert them. Can I just say that this group is so bold… They feel that they will never get caught.’’
“I will prove to them that is not the case. Secretary Leila [de Lima] is also involved with that, okay. I told her, `Go as high as you can’,’’ he added.
President BS Aquino, indeed, is well-trained by the family media machine. It seems the popular ABS-CBN cliffhanger tagline Abangan ang susunod na kabanata is something he takes to heart. We will all have to tune in next time to find out what this new “agency” Aquino has sicked his attack dogs on is. But unlike Batman, there is no specific Bat Time or Bat Channel the president specifies in this instance. Indeed, PNoy never fails to put the “S” in “BS” everytime his lips move.
Funny that he’d mention Leila De Lima, considering her findings on who is really to blame for the deaths of those poor Hong Kong tourists were simply ignored. Then again, perhaps De Lima after having served President BS Aquino for four years has since been well-trained in the art with coming with the “right” report.
It all makes sense now. Back in 2012 President BS Aquino was being criticised for running the economy to the ground by not spending enough money to stimulate it. He had apparently boasted to Coren then that his government now had the money to do just that. So to Coren’s question, “Are you now investing that money into the community?” the President gave this revealing response (my boldface)…
We have been from day one. And an accelerated program, also, for this year. Look at the credit ratings agencies that we’ve got in multiple credit rating agency…
Well, we all now know, in hindsight, what that “accelerated program” really meant.
Much much more BS laces President BS Aquino’s seminal 2012 interview with Anna Coren. But to cut to the bottomline, the President issues this brilliant non-response to Coren’s confronting question, “President, where do you see your country in 10 year’s time?”…
May we invite you to come back and you will not recognize what it could be.
To Coren’s follow-through question “Really?” the transcript text reads verbatim: “AQUINO: In fact, (UNCLEAR)”.
And so, even back then, it really wasn’t clear to President BS Aquino what sort of Philippines we were supposed to be seeing following the legacy of his administration. He never made that point in his election, never came around to making it over the last four years, and is likely to spend the next two years muddling and waffling through that question even more.
The President will, of course, use the current “corruption scandal” and the idiotic noise surrounding it drummed up by the country’s current crop of non-thinking “activists” as an excuse for his failure to crystallise that vision and deliver to it while failing to appreciate the irony in that very excuse — that his office and particularly his government was ultimately the singular source of this god-awful mess.
All that in mind, it’s gonna be interesting watching President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III walk up to the pulpit and presume to address the Filipino people and their crooked representatives on the state of this sad nation. Perhaps Anna Coren should deliver that speech instead and spare the Filipino people any further waffling coming from the flapping lips of their popularly-elected “leaders”.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.