Chaff from the Grain
BY FORMER PRESS SECRETARY HECTOR R.R. VILLANUEVA
“There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
PRESIDENT Benigno Simeon Aquino III, like a man possessed, promises exciting times and more fun for his “bosses,” the masses, except those caught in the crosshair of his ire.
As John Steinbeck, in his best-selling novel “The Grapes of Wrath” on the tragic hardships of the Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties, had written, “A man got to do what he got to do.” Thus, President Benigno Aquino, in his zeal to pursue his straight-path mantra, seems bent not only on upsetting traditional institutions and norms but also on upending the etiquette of good manners and right conduct.
When President Aquino deliberately snubbed and ignored the sitting Chief Justice at his inauguration, and successfully engineered the impeachment and ouster of the same Chief Justice, and short-circuited the detention and incarceration of former President Gloria Arroyo, it was a classic example of the arrogant exercise of power.
In the process, the President is not only revising the political rules of engagement, to the chagrin of many politicians, but is also beginning to reveal an authoritarian streak, inherited from his “cacique” upbringing, which must have been repressed or dormant during his unremarkable and forgettable years in the House of Representatives and the Philippines Senate.
Be that as it may, the Philippines for the first time ever, has a maverick leader who not only appears disinterested in serving beyond 2016 but is also revealing previously undetected personality traits. He is obdurate, unafraid, unimpressed, and unintimidated by money, political dynasties, Big Business, taipans, power brokers, rebels, or trapo politicians.
In fact, President Benigno Aquino III appears diffident and does not seem to care, or give a hoot, towards any of these pressure groups as he focuses mainly on his perceived political enemies, detractors, and critics from the previous administration.
On the contrary, it is the traditional pressure groups, whether tycoons, political dynasts, senators, congressmen, justices, judges, parvenus, has-beens, and religious sects that appear intimidated by President Aquino’s penchant for rudeness and ruthlessness. Most have opted for prudence and a wait-and-see attitude.
Thus far, whatever President Aquino wants, Mr. Aquino gets, by whatever means that will justify the ends, which is highly alarming.
In brief, any business conglomerate bigwig with vast holdings to conserve, or political dynasties with constituencies to protect, will not dare tangle with, or cross swords with President Aquino at this time.
While these novel and refreshing developments are revitalizing the nation which should result in less corruption and better governance, the propensity of President Aquino to use and mobilize the entire resources of the government to persecute his political foes regardless of the means and the rule of law, is symptomatic of autocratic tendencies that will put freedom at risk.
On the other hand, the masses do not care one way or the other, provided there is food on the table, regardless of the political system in place, or, to paraphrase again a dictum of President John F. Kennedy, “A free society that cannot help the many who are poor will not be able to save the few who are rich.”
When all is said and done, these are exciting times that bear close watching as President Benigno Aquino thrashes and slashes away at the weeds of corruption and at his political foes that can lead to abuse of power and loss of liberty.
There is method in his madness.
You be the judge
* * *
(For comments and views please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)