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PNoy’s tough job

Leandro DD Coronel
By Leandro DD Coronel

MANILA

If we thought being President would be a breeze for Noynoy Aquino after getting an overwhelming mandate from the people, we couldn’t have been more wrong. What a tough job he’s gotten himself into!

One wonders if PNoy ever thought it would be a walk in the park. Having lived a life in politics practically all his life, probably not.

But, in the aftermath of the magical election in May 2010, he or anyone of us would have been justified in entertaining the illusion that all Nonoy had to do was be the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino and everything would cushily fall into place.

The landslide victory in May 2010 made giving in to the illusion easy. The only son of the best-loved pair in recent political history had been installed as the leader of the nation. At the same time, the most disliked and distrusted leader — Gloria Arroyo — in recent history was out of the way and out of our lives. Things were looking up and looking good. What could go wrong?

Well, it’s been a year since the euphoria of Noynoy’s presidential cinderella tale swept the nation and what have we got?

Unfortunately for Noynoy, his approval numbers have come down to earth from their dizzying levels at the beginning of his term. Recent surveys show a downward trend which Malacanang operatives pray will level off to a respectable plateau and which Noynoy’s detractors hope will slide down even further. What the surveys indicate is that the people aren’t all satisfied with the President’s performance so far.

Is the magic gone? Has the shine on Noynoy’s Good Housekeeping seal faded and gone? If so, why so soon?

Actually, PNoy and his people have been doing something, as he had pledged during the campaign. Hewing closely to his promise to rid government of graft and corruption, PNoy has sicced his men on previous and current wrongdoers.  Big tax evaders have been identified and some of them hauled to court. Big-ticket items on the infrastructural pipeline have been put on hold for review for possible graft. The military’s dirty money secrets have been exposed and a number of top brass are on the dock. The greed of executives in government-connected firms who had been pigging out on self-granted allowances has been tempered.

PNoy wanted a truth commission empaneled but the Supreme Court shot  down the idea. The lady Ombudsman, seen as one who abetted crooks rather than throw them in jail, initially fought ouster but later wilted and stepped down on her own.

None of these things would have happened during the past administration. In fact, these things had flourished in the previous government.

And yet, the people are unhappy? We should all welcome with glee what PNoy and his people have done so far. But why are many of us starting to grumble and to express disatisfaction?

There’s an explanation.

Good and commendable as they are, none of these things the Aquino administration has achieved so far helps the majority of our people where it counts. People do appreciate– they must, in their silent ways – PNoy’s reform initiatives. But what they want dearly and direly is food on their tables, regular and meaningful jobs, homes and communities they can call their own, and safe streets where they work and live.

The people want policemen they can trust, barangay leaders they can depend on, and tricyle, jeepney and bus drivers that will deliver them to their chosen destinations in one piece. They want the prices of things to come down to levels that they can afford.

Hasn’t PNoy delivered on these basic needs? Unfortunately, no, or at least not yet.

Is it all PNoy’s fault? Realistically, no.

PNoy became President in the cusp of the tremendous good will that his mother, Cory, left when she died and the memory of his martyred father, Ninoy. Formidable assets, those. But soon to conspire against him were global events that were out of his control.

The price of oil has kept rising — with the occasional negligibly tiny price-down along the way — because of the turmoil in the Middle East. The same events forcibly sent home thousands of Filipino workers, further bulging the heavy unemployment rolls here. The United States got hit by its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, causing not only a ripple-effect but wave-like tremors in our own economy. Japan suffered its worst nuclear meltdown and a resultant tsunami which also had grave economic consequences on the Philippines.

These consequential events were not PNoy’s doing but they have created a negative impact on the Philippine economy and on the President’s track record.

The President’s bosses are not happy.

Which makes one wonder if PNoy had erred at his inaugural when he declared that the people were his bosses – “Kayo ang boss ko<D>!” Because now everybody is bossing him around. Now everybody tells him what to do, what not to do, and what he has done wrong.

People have taken the President’s humble declaration literally and that is what it should be in a democracy. But only as long as people are realistic and reasonable, and don’t overdo it.

The President’s critics have been overdoing it. They’re out to derail PNoy’s initiatives and undermine his government. Maybe there’s some truth to what one bishop has claimed to be in the works, a plot to oust Aquino. (It’s unclear at this time whether the Department of Justice is investigating if this is true or not.)

One’s reading is that those who didn’t like Noynoy before — or, put it another way, those who liked someone else before, whether it was another presidential bet in 2010 or Gloria Arroyo – still don’t like him today. Because they supported a different candidate, they still can’t accept that someone unworthy of their approval like Noynoy is the President. Thus, they continue to put him down as unworthy of the presidency.

Ninoy Aquino said governing the Philippines after Ferdinand Marcos would be like hell. He didn’t live long enough to say that governing the country after Arroyo would be nearly impossible.

 

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