Aquino missteps

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


CRITICS of the administration of President Noynoy Aquino are feasting on his recent missteps, the latest being the floating of the trial balloon that is amending the Constitution to allow him to run for a second six-year term. That floored even many of those who shared his “Daang Matuwid” platform in the presidential elections of 2010.

It’s possible the trial balloon, first hoisted aloft by defeated 2010 vice presidential bet and current Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, did not originate from the President, whose mother, former president Cory Aquino, refused to heed urgings for her to run for reelection in the 1992 presidential polls to show she was made of different stuff from the dictator People Power ousted in 1986, Ferdinand Marcos.

When the idea of amending the Constitution for whatever reasons was first broached to him early in his term, P-Noy immediately shot it down. When calls to postpone the barangay elections were made in 2010 and 2013 supposedly for lack of funds, the President also shot these down.

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Both moves show a respect for the 1987 Constitution, the charter drafted during the term of P-Noy’s mother, and an adherence to basic democratic principles. Aquino’s turnaround is therefore a surprise.

What was the game changer? The answer to that can be gleaned from P-Noy’s TV5 interview recently with lawyer Mel Sta. Maria. In that interview, he repeatedly talked about his wish to clip the power of the Supreme Court (SC), which has declared as unconstitutional portions of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

But I don’t think the DAP by itself is his issue against the High Court. Rather, it was the way the SC decision was worded, or the portion that tended to attribute ill-motive to his administration’s good intention in conceptualizing the DAP. That portion of the ruling was used by his critics in filing impeachment complaints against him.

The Aquinos and the Cojuangcos (on Cory’s side) are big landlords, and their views and nature are shaped by that very classification. The children of Cory and the martyred Ninoy were raised the same way even if they imbibed the liberal principles that guided the politics of their parents. Feudal pride is oozing in that family.

That is a weakness, one that the SC ruling touched and which his political allies, consciously or unconsciously, made capital of to advance their selfish goals, which is to retain the power they are holding. Of course, pride should not be used as guide in crafting government policies, which only shows the character that P-Noy possessed when he assumed the presidency.

P-Noy is not a statesman, and his lack of it has been pointed out by some analysts who assessed his recent anti-SC tirade. And that is something that his bosses should have known by now. While that may have served him well in his campaign against crooks in government, it obviously failed him in the other aspects of governance, especially in
dealing with the SC, which heads the branch of government co-equal with the executive.

This weakness caused the missteps he is making in the latter part of his term, missteps that his enemies are feasting on and which even his supporters are criticizing. If he doesn’t change tack, he could end up a lame duck, with whatever belief in his “Daang Matuwid” vision his bosses still possess fading out completely.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2014.

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