Preaching perspective

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


IT IS but fitting for President Noynoy Aquino to use his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) to preach perspective. His critics in past few weeks have been aggressively demonizing him. He is no longer just Abnoy, BS (bull shit), stupid, etc. but is the second coming of Lucifer, all because of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

His Sona last Monday sought to blow away the smog that covered his “bosses” view of the entire landscape. To a certain degree, he succeeded.

Aquino was elected in 2010 mainly because voters wanted to end the impunity that characterized the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He wasn’t the intellectual that the other candidates like Gibo Teodoro were, but he was the son of Ninoy and Cory—meaning that integrity was, for him, a surefire thing. With him as president, sincerity was a given.

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In a way, what his bosses wanted was for him to reintroduce honest governance, summed up well in the slogan “Daang Matuwid.” If he did well as an administrator as well, that was gravy.

As the President described the situation then in his Sona:

“To dream was an absurdity. We had a senseless bureaucracy; padded contracts had become the norm; and corruption was endemic to the system…We failed to gain the confidence of investors…We found a people deprived of hope…With heads bowed, we had come to accept that we would never be able to rely on our government or our society.

“The Philippines sank deep into despair because of dirty politics. Our trust in each other disappeared; the confidence of the world in the Philippines ebbed, and worst of all: we lost faith in ourselves.

“It was at this juncture that we began our journey on the straight and righteous path.”

Indeed, things have changed considerably since Aquino took over from Arroyo four years ago. The most visible change was in the image of the national government here and abroad. The Aquino administration is being viewed favorably even by respected foreign institutions.

Of course, PNoy gave considerable attention to substance in his Sona. The various aspects of governance was tackled and given a positive spin, from fiscal management, to the economy, labor, peace and order, the military, etc. That is, after all, the function of the Sona.

Which is also its weakness. The President can present figures, or can show video clips of people benefiting from government programs, but the correctness of those figures can be questioned and context can be raised for every video clip shown. Even if the figures are correct, there’s the trickle-down effect to consider.

But the Sona made sure that the power of incredulity would be rendered ineffective by using perspective and focusing on honesty of intention. He was not asked to do miracles, only to right the ship.

“When some groups appealed to me to run for President,” he said, “they told me that they did not expect to solve all the country’s problems in a span of six years. They simply asked me to begin the change. You saw where we came from, and you are seeing how we have far surpassed the aspirations with which we began.”

In a way, this was where the President’s Sona succeeded. He took the wind from the critics sail labeled DAP, and made his “bosses” view the bigger picture of his governance. Thus, when critics started acting up after the Sona was delivered, they ended up sounding petty.

There’s one Tagalog word for that: naisahan.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 30, 2014.

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