What PNoy should do next

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Saturday, August 30, 2014


President Aquino has categorically declared that he does not plan to serve beyond the term to which he was elected in 2010. At noontime of June 30, 2016, he will gladly step down and embrace the quieter and more peaceful life of a plain citizen.

Well and good. We have waited for this declaration since his allies started floating the idea of a term extension. We hope that henceforth they would stop whispering in his ear that he is the only one capable of leading the country into the glorious era of plenty for every Filipino. That Messianic bent is scary.

Now, what remains to be done by the President is to stop sniping at the Supreme Court. I know that he’s smarting from the decision that struck down his Disbursement Acceleration Program, especially that portion that sought to strip him of the right that we accord even the most notorious of criminals: the presumption of innocence.

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But enough said already. Aquino should set aside his feelings of personal hurt and act like the statesman that a president is and should be. He has already made his point clear. He has filed his Motion for Reconsideration. If it is any consolation to him, it is not only he who has experienced feeling like he has been served a raw deal by the judiciary. It’s a common occurrence among losing litigants.

***

I had the pleasure of having breakfast with industrialist Norberto Quisumbing Jr. the day before his 84th birthday which is today (Happy Birthday, NQ!). It has never ceased to amaze me how one so successful should continue to worry about helping the door at an age when he should be enjoying the quiet and easy life that he has earned.

But he says that at a certain age, a man has to start dedicating his life to helping others. No one is going to live forever, he told me. He has to do something, plant a seed, before he passes on to the next life.

The seed, in his case, is the PUNLA, a program that aims to help poor but deserving elementary school graduates obtain secondary education in private schools that have higher than average academic standards. “You need to shape their minds at an early age,” he said.

In order to reach as many recipients as possible, PUNLA enlisted individual and corporate citizens to contribute by acting as “godparents”, shouldering half the cost of the PUNLA scholar’s education. They didn’t lack in partners until recently when the numbers simply dwindled at a time when tuition fees ballooned.

But NQ is not giving up, even if it meant digging deeper into his pockets. He expressed hope, though, that others would contribute to his cause, not necessarily by partnering with him but by establishing their own scholarship programs.

***

During the more than 40 years that I have lived in Cebu, I have never experienced a traffic situation as horrible as the one I went through last Thursday. No, not even during the Sinulog.

Clouds were hovering ominously in the horizon when I was approaching Cebu City from Compostela but I never imagined they carried so much volume of water as to inundate the Queen City of the South when they poured for a little more than an hour.

By the time I got past the Park Mall in the reclamation area, a long line of stranded vehicles had formed. They had not moved and they were not moving for what seemed to me was eternity. I used to marvel at Mayor Jonas Cortes’s modern traffic lights but at that time, they were useless except as mute witness to how Nature can undo even the most modern human-made contraption.

It took us almost two hours and plenty of frayed nerves to wiggle out of the line of stalled cars and turn right to Subangdaku.
The next time, I spot those clouds again, I will no longer venture into the streets anymore.

frank.otherside@yahoo.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2014.

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