Apologies count a lot. Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III has so far done everything but apologise. If he won’t apologise for being responsible then he should at least apologise for what happened under his watch.
Lots of things could have been done differently, and even if Aquino could not possibly control everything, he could have, as the country’s most powerful man, been a stronger influence on activities and events that led to outcomes whether they are the actual ones or the could-have-beens. Not being so is something to apologise for. What’s the point of being the most powerful man in the Philippines? The point is highlighted when Filipinos are searching for answers in the aftermath of a tragic outcome. As the President of the Philippines, BS Aquino will always be in the spotlight so long as he holds that office. As such, he is expected to step up to the part he was elected to play.
But what has President BS Aquino been doing instead? Rather than be a bit more self-aware and mindful of what his “bosses” are saying, he’s dug his heels in and focuses on the adolescent business of lashing out. The president lashes out at his perceived “enemies” whenever there is an audience willing to listen. And lately, that audience has been dwindling. Whereas in the past, his audience would consist of people naturally gravitating to his presence, now it consists of people cherry-picked for their contrived loyalty. No surprise then that the inbreeding of the ideas at President BS Aquino’s disposal has become more acute.
When you choose to surround yourself with people who offer nothing but pats on your back, you become less resilient to criticism and from-left-field ideas that broaden one’s view of the world — and you start your descent to irrelevance. You start to believe that you are the one chosen to be “blessed” and all the rest doomed to be cursed. It is not unlike being suckered into one of those “prayer meetings” and turned into an addict to the dopamine fixes induced by song and chants. A brain routinely engulfed by happy chemicals quickly becomes atrophied in its areas reserved for critical thinking.
The trouble with BS Aquino is that he’s never been a statesman in any real sense of the word. Real statesmen are a rare breed. And in a country that struggles to find even just one good president amongst its 101 million souls, Aquino has proven to be just another traditional choice of a people long-accustomed to embracing the lowest-common-denominator option. Politics is 99 percent communication and Aquino has lost the battle on that front which is a fatal loss considering that the opportunity to spin an astounding military (or, as the case may be, police) defeat when you are no less than the Commander-in-Chief and top boss of the national police force is a fleeting one. Aquino all but squandered that opportunity over the two days following the breaking of the news about the deaths of those 44 Special Action Force police officers.
Aquino’s apologists cry Unfair! when beholding the overwhelming imagery and footage streaming out of both new and old media of rows of flag-draped caskets being unloaded from a military plane and the who’s-who of politicians and other personalities standing solemnly on-site to pay tribute to these fallen heroes. Perhaps it is “unfair”. But seing it from that lens is missing the real point. The point at work here is that, yet again, Aquino chose to be a mere administrator (and not even a good one at that) rather than step up and be a real leader in these critical times.
But, see, all roads lead back to the Filipino people — the ones, if we recall Yellow Rhetoric 101, who have been put on a pedestal and made out to be the source of anyone’s mandate to govern and lead. In BS Aquino, Filipinos have collectively chosen badly. Foolishly even.
BS Aquino, after all, was foremost The Catholic President. Following the death of his much-loved mother and in the lead up to the 2010 presidential elections he was said to have gone to a prayer retreat during which the wisdom of pursuing the presidency was divinely “revealed” to him. This “prayerful” character of BS Aquino — an image he inherited from his even more prayerful parents — was a strong contributor to what endeared him to his prayerful constituents. So perhaps it is now seeing him taking up the cause of enemy infidels that infuriates Filipinos today. And recent revelations that these infidels are being backed and possibly funded by the Malaysian government further enforces the growing public perception that BS Aquino is Bangsamoro first, Yellow a close second, and Filipino a far far distant third.
Ultimately what may have really done President BS Aquino in was plain garden variety vanity. After five years of stumbling from one gaffe to an epic fail, and then to yet another gaffe, perhaps the poor guy just so desperately wanted to succeed for a change in a spectacular way. Unfortunately that desperation may have turned an otherwise healthy drive to succeed into a reckless pursuit of vindication premised on the wrong principles.
We’re talking about a sovereign who would negotiate with terrorists together with a foreign government with which his country is caught in a thorny territorial dispute which, as is increasingly evident now, happens to be one of the possible roots underlying the existence of said terrorists. President BS Aquino’s government is pretty much a failure by design at its most fundamental levels.
The president of the Philippines must apologise to his people. He needs to man up and, for once, before his term ends, act like the leader Filipinos elected him to be.
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