Bosses or voices?

By Perry Diaz

P-Noy's "bosses" burn his effigy during his State of the Nation Address on July 28, 2014 (Photo/IC)

P-Noy’s “bosses” burn his effigy during his State of the Nation Address on July 28, 2014 (Photo/IC)

When Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. was asked what made President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III change his mind about amending the Philippine Constitution and pursuing a term extension, he said, “What is essential for the President is to know the sentiments of his ‘bosses,’ the Filipino people. He will continue to listen to them so he will know their views on how to ensure that the reforms and transformation that he has begun will continue and will become permanent.” But what reforms had he instituted that are beneficial to good governance?

If there is one reform that is direly needed, it is the Freedom of Information (FOI), which P-Noy had consistently refused to certify as “urgent” legislation. If he stays in power beyond his six-year term, then FOI would presumably remain in limbo, which begs the question: Is he scared of FOI? If so, why?

Pro-FOI rally.

Pro-FOI rally.

Another reform that is as important as FOI is the repeal or revision of the bank secrecy law and the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA) that have provided untouchable “safe havens” for corrupt officials, jueteng lords, drug dealers, and other criminals to hide their ill-gotten wealth.

That, in a nutshell, is what’s at the center of a whirlwind of debate over whether the Constitution should be amended to give Aquino a second chance to run for president.

If P-Noy was really serious – and sincere – about stamping out corruption, he must have an FOI, which, if enacted into law, would remove the firewall that is shielding corrupt officials and criminals from the reach of the law.

If P-Noy wanted to listen to his “bosses,” then he should look at the polls taken in the aftermath of the pork barrel scandals. He should also listen to the social media “chatter,” which provides a great deal of straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth critique; thus, giving him an accurate measure of the people’s sentiments. He should – nay, must! — go out and rub shoulders with the poor and hungry and feel their “pulse,” and perhaps even taste the pagpag that his “bosses” eat to survive from day to day.

Imperial presidency

P-Noy in Malacanang Palace

P-Noy in Malacanang Palace

But after four years of P-Noy’s imperial presidency, things really haven’t changed much, which reminds me of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s famous epigram in 1849: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Indeed, the changes that P-Noy brags about is like a bucket of water: you kick the bucket and the water pours out — gone. They’re nothing more than empty slogans like his oft-repeated mantra, “Kung walang korap, walang mahirap” (“No corruption, no poverty”), which has become the butt of jokes in the social media. Indeed, his much-touted crusade against corruption is now just another public relations exercise intended to keep the people’s hopes high while lawmakers ransack the treasury.

What is sad is that these lawmakers plundered the people’s money right under P-Noy’s watch. But what makes this whole charade so despicable is that the money the lawmakers stole was from the bloated pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that P-Noy created. These funds were supposed to be used for projects endorsed by members of Congress for the benefit of their constituents. But as the ongoing investigation into the pork barrel scam had revealed, more than P10 billion had been skimmed off the top and pocketed by lawmakers in cahoots with Janet Lim-Napoles, the notorious “pork barrel queen.” To date, three senators are in detention for the non-bailable charge of plunder. More are under investigation.

Patronage politics

Patronage-politicsThe recent rulings of the Supreme Court that declared the PDAF and DAP unconstitutional had put an end to P-Noy’s use of “patronage politics” to keep the loyalty of the majority of the legislators to achieve his legislative agenda. Some say that P-Noy is engaged in bribery using the PDAF and DAP money to pursue his private agenda, which doesn’t equate to benefits for the people, his “bosses.” Take for instance the additional P50 million in discretionary funds – taken from DAP –given to each of the 20 senators who happened to have voted to convict ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona.

And how did his “bosses” react to all these shenanigans? In today’s age of the “information highway,” the people can express their opinions in the Internet on just about everything that the government does. Of course, there is the traditional method of taking the “pulse” of the people, which is to survey a random sampling of the population. The two major pollsters are the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.

Poor performance

SWS-net-satisfaction-Aquino-June-2014Since his presidency began, P-Noy had consistently been rated “Good” or “Very Good.” But a SWS survey taken last June 27-30, 2014 showed that P-Noy’s net overall performance rating had dipped to +29 or “Moderate,” which is down from the +45 or “Good” rating in the first quarter of 2014. But a closer look at the numbers further reveal “tectonic” slippage in P-Noy’s ratings on specific issues. For “Ensuring that no family will be hungry,” P-Noy was rated -9 (“Neutral”); “Fighting inflation” -18 (Poor); “Ensuring oil firms don’t take advantage of oil prices” -19 (Poor); and “Resolving Maguindanao massacre case with justice” -44 (Bad).

For the first time, P-Noy’s net performance hit the “Poor” and “Bad” ratings, which doesn’t bode well with his “bosses.” As to P-Noy’s desire to run for a second term, an ANC survey of business leaders shows that 71% oppose the idea. The question is: Who are those who want P-Noy to run for a second term?

P-Noy, Lucio Tan, and Tan Ching.

P-Noy, Lucio Tan, and Tan Ching.

Various sectors have voiced out their opposition to a P-Noy extended term. The groups that favor P-Noy running for a second term are his Liberal Party mates, his “KKK” cronies – Kaibigan (friends), Kaklase (classmates), and Kabarilan (shooting buddies) – and his relatives; which makes one wonder, why?

The answer to this question is obvious. These are the people who benefit from their association with P-Noy, politically and economically. Needless to say, if P-Noy wins a second term, their political and economic assets would be protected and continue to grow in value as well as influence. On the other hand, if P-Noy steps down, his cronies would have to look for another padrino whom they could cling to… profitably.

P-Noy has to make a choice. Would he listen to his “bosses” who don’t want him to run or to the “voices” of his cronies that are much louder – and more influential — than his “bosses”?

At the end of the day, politics is all about power. And power corrupts.


2 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Mariano Patalinjug says:

    Yonkers, New York
    02 September 2014

    Tell me: which of President Aquino’s much-ballyhooed “reforms” is he talking about? And which a few of his supporters merrily justify amending the Constitution to make it possible for him to go another six-year term to enable him to continue pushing those fundamental reforms?

    Recall that he rode to victory on a vow to slay the twin dragons of CORRUPTION and POVERTY.

    He should logically be judged a success or failure on how he has done actually to redeem this promise to his “bosses,” the Filipino people.

    Except for the fact that he is credited with the successful impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona–but, incidentally, had to “bribe” both Represedntives and Senators with a P50-million “advance” on their PDAF!–he has nothing much to show for his crusade against Corruption.

    The biggest “fish” of them all, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, charged with “rigging the elections” and with plunder, has not only succeeded in feigning illness so make it possible for her to escape being sent to Muntinlupa; she continues to serve as a Representative from Pampanga and draw the salary and perks of a member of the Congress!

    Who else? Juan Ponce Enrile? Ramon “Bong” Revilla? Jinggoy Estrada? True that the Ombudsman has now brought plunder cases against these three malefactors or crooks–but there is a very good possibility that their trial before the Sandiganbayan will far outlast President Aquino.

    On Poverty, reports have it that even after he has thrown over P100 billion into his Condition Cash Transfer Program, the incidence of poverty has actually worsened in the last six years or so.

    Failure on both countys, let’s not delude ourselves. As that cliche goes, call a spade a spade, shall we?

    There is clearly no good reason for Mr. Aquino to be rewarded with another six years.

    Mariano Patalinjug

  2. roy says:

    You are right Perry. P-Noy is a tool to do his corrupt advisers, oligarchs, elites, politicians and public officials for their biddings. No backbone to stand up what is right.

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *