HE LIFTED the spirit of countless Filipinos during his inaugural speech last June 30, giving a fresh hope on good governance that many believed was lacking, if not non-existent, in the preceding administration.
With his new government, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had rekindled the torch of optimisms that was once lighted by his parents, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.
Few days after his inauguration, the President was in the limelight for his stint campaign against the use of “wang-wang” or siren, including those high-ranking officials of the government.
In just a week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) confiscated a total 287 illegally used sirens, blinkers, and fog lights from the vehicles plying in the thoroughfares of Metro Manila.
Aquino’s act in obeying traffic rules was even lauded by residents of the metropolis who have been pestered in some government men exploiting their post-of-service, turning it into a due advantage against ordinary citizens.
Risking his life and snarling himself among thousands of stranded commuters in obedience of traffic rules was an exemplary act of the country’s Chief Executive, giving the impression that no one is above the law and anyone is capable in observing it.
“Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang kotong” were the most popular phrases that introduced the new President to his constituents. But on when the echo of such marching order will expire, no one can exactly tell.
For the people in the country’s capital, where traffic is a significant part of their daily lives, Aquino’s anti wang-wang edict greatly reduced the annoying sounds of sirens from jeepneys, buses, trucks, SUV, among others.
In as much as the Manila people are concern, the President accomplished a great feat.
But Manila is not the Philippines alone. In places where traffic is seemingly strange, especially in far-flung areas in the country, the people are yet to see what Aquino can do.
Aside from the highly-appreciated no siren policy, he is yet to show what he really can, and if he really can lead this country to a better path.
Since the Aquino government took over, the Philippine stock market was rather posting more losers than gainers – a very alarming situation following Europe’s Sunday announcement that it is bracing for another wave of global recession.
In various interviews, Aquino reiterated that he has instructed his Finance Secretary, Cesar Purisima, to assess the country’s economic status. But up to now, the Palace remains mum on the “assessment” update.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala reported Monday that the country will likely have sugar crisis with the current buffer supply set to last until the end of August only.
Before the Arroyo administration concluded it nine-year stint, the Sugar Regulatory Administration disclosed last month that the Philippines has ample supply of sugar.
Its inventories claimed 600,000 metric tons of stock sugar. It however included those imports that are set to arrive this month which will likely not happen with the change of government.
And if it will, Alcala said such buffer supply would be enough for the months of September and October only, citing the increase of sugar consumption by 23 percent.
Whether the Aquino government is addressing the problem or not, no one can tell because, again, the Palace remains mute on the issue.
Calm as he can be, the President’s first week in office was truly bombarded by drawbacks and setbacks, in-and-out.
His highly anticipated Truth Commission, tasked to investigate possible irregularities of the previous administration, had been gaining oppositions noting that his appointed chief, Hilario Davide, was an erstwhile ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Militant groups had been shouting in the streets of Manila reminding Aquino that former Chief Justice Davide sworn Arroyo into office twice. In return, the latter appointed him in a powerful United Nation post.
The President, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, issued his first Memorandum Circular with two different versions – the one ordering none career officers to vacate their post immediately while the other directed the opposite and extended the workers' term until further notice.
His Presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, got the ire of the media when he lost his temper in a journalist’s query on the matter.
Lacierda was also lambasted by the members of the Malacanang Press Corp when, in his first media briefing, he made them to wait for three hours.
Over the weekend, the spokesman fueled again the fury of the press when he failed to respond to the reporters' calls and texts, forgetting that even Sunday news from the Palace must not stop pouring.
Lacierda then learned the lesson that “Lone Ranger” cannot do the job of a Presidential spokesman; and that he need, he said, to hire deputies to help him in the job.
The Palace’s Communication Group, because Aquino abolished the Office of the Press Secretary, is yet to be established.
Apparently, a Palace insider said that the delayed in the creation of the group was due to the factions in Aquino’s core group, endorsing different candidates.
Ricky Carandang and Manolo Quezon, though the Palace either confirm or deny, are the leading contenders for the post. But until the inner chaos settles in, the creation of this very important agency dangles.
But none surpassed the raining criticisms that Aquino’s education secretary, Armin Luistro, received from the media.
Coming from a well-known Catholic institution, De La Salle University, Luistro stunned the press when he told them, “Hindi naman kayo nakakatulong”.
Because of that, Luistro was bombarded with disparagements until no less than the President himself intervened and apologizes in behalf of him.
Truly, some of the President’s men were not making a good first impression on their first week of office.
This prompted Aquino to have his Cabinet men undergo media relation training, which started Tuesday (July 6).
Aquino’s first week in office was also marred with a killing of a high-ranking political activist, Fernando Baldomero, in Aklan, prompting militant groups to orchestrate a unified call for the President to put an end to extrajudicial killings.
The first media killing was also recorded during the President’s pioneering week. The assassination of former broadcaster Jose Daguio in Kalinga reminded Aquino of one of the problems that hounded the previous administration.
Truly, the President is having a rough ride in his first week in office. But would this be enough to rate performance? No, not yet. After all, a week is just an inconsiderable fraction of his remaining days in the Palace for him to prove if he is true to his words.