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PNoy’s own SWAT

Leandro DD coronelBy Leandro DD Coroenl
MANILA
It may not be so apparent but President Aquino is under siege from many sides. Observer wonders if he’ll survive for long.

A reformist president will attract opposition, some virulent, sooner or later. Mr. Aquino ran under the banner of a crusade to clean up government, identify past plunderers and lock them up for a long time. Already he has stepped on many toes, some belonging to previously powerful personalities.

The previously imperious Gloria Arroyo has been reduced to a neck-braced hospital arrestee whose daily sunshine diet is limited to two hours (who does she talk to all day, her husband Mike? Her spokeswoman Elena, the Horn of Gloria? Her lawyer-spokesman Raul Lambino? Or just the nurses?).

The greasy Benjamin Abalos, former elections commissioner, is on the dock too, and the Chief Justice is being pilloried, virtually in the public square for all to gawk at and ridicule. Other minor Arroyo functionaries are either under investigation or indictment and are waiting for their respective penitential coming-out.

The bureaus of Customs and of Internal Revenue are flushing out tax evaders and everyone is running scared while, slowly, the nation’s coffers are gaining heft as collections rise. These bureaus shouldn’t forget to wield the axe inside their own premises and get rid of the extortionists in their midsts.

So, PNoy has been rocking the boat. Naturally, a lot of people are pissed. They want to get even. Do you think Gloria is suffering her indignity magnanimously?

Mr. Aquino must cover his flanks, a lot of people want to take a crack at him. He’s no dummy, of course, and he doesn’t need a lowly columnist to tell him of the dangers that lurk around.
Still, it doesn’t hurt for PNoy to mull the risks and potential dangers ahead. He’s currently untouchable because the people are behind him, as validated by the surveys. They are his not-so-secret weapon. As long as his numbers are up, the talkative congresswoman Mitos Magsaysay can whine until she’s hoarse but she’ll get nowhere. But any erosion in Aquino’s popularity and the daggers will come out, probably not just figuratively.

The national economy will be key. As the priapic Bill Clinton knew early on, people’s wallets dictate political outcomes. Already, PNoy’s numbers are dropping under the dead-weight of an ailing economy, made worse by external dynamics that are beyond the President’s control. But, an empty stomach cares not whence the causes of its pain emanate, it will always blame the guy in charge, rightly or wrongly. “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Hopefully, Mr. Aquino’s economic managers are on the right track and will soon show tangible positive results. Then, he can have more time to take care of the political agitators.
PNoy needs his Cabinet to be candid about the problems the administration faces and not be simply yes-men who are there to please their boss. Besides the justice secretary, he needs a trusted legal guru from whom he could seek independent counsel on complicated issues, one who’s politically savvy and who possesses the gravitas to impress the usual naysayers.

The Observer can sense that the President’s image-makers have stepped up their efforts and are working hard behind the scenes to keep their boss’s popularity up (they’re not, as another columnist has complained, above flooding newspapers’ letters sections with disguised propaganda mail). As a matter of operational policy, the President must surround himself with operatives who are loyal and dedicated to him and, important of all, who know what they’re doing.

The stubborn elusiveness of fugitives like Jovito Palparan, ex-Gov. Joel Reyes and others (including convicted wife-killer Congressman Ruben Ecleo) is a continuing embarrassment to Mr. Aquino, exposing his government’s ineptness in implementing the law. In cases like this, the President must have trained operatives at his direct command whose specialty is to track down slippery outlaws.
In sum, PNoy must have at his quick disposal men and women who can be mobilized at the snap of his fingers and be able to act with decisive results. Critics can say what they want, but a chief executive must possess this capability if he’s to be successful and to maintain the upper hand against those who would subvert or weaken the legitimate government.

Despite initial failures and setbacks, the President’s detractors and enemies won’t stop coming. They will regroup and reload and will be continually nibbling at his heels and banging at his door, and worse. PNoy has no recourse but to fight back.

For all we know, the President already has a defensive (or offensive) setup, as he is, to repeat, no dummy. But, come to think of it, from results so far, nah, he doesn’t. About time to get his act together.

The stubborn elusiveness of fugitives like Jovito Palparan, ex-Gov. Joel Reyes and others (including convicted wife-killer Congressman Ruben Ecleo) is a continuing embarrassment to Mr. Aquino, exposing his government’s ineptness in implementing the law. In cases like this, the President must have trained operatives at his direct command whose specialty is to track down slippery outlaws.
In sum, PNoy must have at his quick disposal men and women who can be mobilized at the snap of his fingers and be able to act with decisive results. Critics can say what they want, but a chief executive must possess this capability if he’s to be successful and to maintain the upper hand against those who would subvert or weaken the legitimate government.

Despite initial failures and setbacks, the President’s detractors and enemies won’t stop coming. They will regroup and reload and will be continually nibbling at his heels and banging at his door, and worse. PNoy has no recourse but to fight back.

For all we know, the President already has a defensive (or offensive) setup, as he is, to repeat, no dummy. But, come to think of it, from results so far, nah, he doesn’t. About time to get his act more together.

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