IN perhaps the clearest signal yet that this president is a radical departure from his predecessor, President Noynoy has decided that even his father’s holiday is not a sacred cow.

Well, it is and it isn’t really, but he makes his point across.

In a clean break from the past, the usual observance of “holiday economics,” which would have made Aug. 23 a holiday, has been overturned. This time around, Aug. 21 – though a Saturday – is the holiday and the Monday is the regular working day. He has put some sense back to where sense properly belongs.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

It is in things like this that the common folk can see that he is making a difference.

True, it is early days, but it is in the first few weeks and months when a new leader either gains the complete trust of the people, or loses it completely. He only has to look at the United States, where a president elected by popular consensus is now finding himself on the edge of popular discontent. He therefore has to act now to avert the same fate.

Where to start?

He needs to reinforce in the people the belief that everyone is equal under the law.

Not just justice for some, but justice for all. In this regard, the Ivan Padilla suspected rub-out is a test case that must result in a lawful and credible outcome.

True, the man was a suspected criminal, but even as such, he had his rights to a fair trial, and should not have been summarily executed by lawmen, if in fact he was. No one is above the law, and that especially includes law enforcers. He needs to make this point forcefully, and there is no better time to do it than in this case.

And speaking of law enforcers breaking the law, he must put a stop to traffic enforcers extorting bribes from motorists, for real or imagined traffic offences. I can confirm that the practice still goes unchecked and it is business as usual for these folks. Again, this may not be as high-profile as sending the perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre to justice, but it is what the people see every single day. If they see no improvement in this situation, they will conclude – rightly or wrongly – that nothing has changed.

Another simple, everyday and everywhere manifestation of everything that was wrong with past dispensations is the omnipresence of “public advertising.” Donated by Mayor X, Ipadayon ang Tabang by Congressman Y, and a Project of Councilor Z.

These ubiquitous signs are not only an eyesore, they are also crass and tasteless, and speak volumes about the politicians who caused them to be put there. These are public projects, put up and paid for by public funds. What right does any public official have to put his name on it? Truth be told, I have as much right for my name to be in those projects, because I am sure I pay more tax than those officials. But like the rest of us, I grin and bear it when I see that it is these public servants who are hogging the limelight, for the wrong reasons.

Well, I will tolerate this no more, and I demand President Noynoy do something about it. Just as President Reagan shouted to President Gorbachev across the Berlin Wall to “tear down that wall,” I am also shouting to President Noynoy to “TEAR DOWN THOSE SIGNS.” Enough is enough.

The people are impatient for change, and are hardly in the mood for waiting for the benefits of the president’s good intentions to trickle down to them.

In shaping people’s perceptions, and getting them on your side so they will support your greater political agenda, it is the difference that they see in the little things, which will either make or break your presidency.

(http://asbb-foreignexchange.blogspot.com & http://twitter.com/asbbatuhan)