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Filipinos and the Post EDSA Aquino Blues

February 28, 2011

The recent litany of misgivings about Aquino’s failures in performance, in diplomacy, in the economy gets longer. The mainstream media which supported “the anointed one” is stuck knowing they endorsed Aquino all the way, despite knowing that Aquino was a lazy oaf who played hooky while in Congress and the Senate.

It is not surprising therefore that as President, Noynoy Aquino as of late:

* played hooky at the height of the Mendoza brouhaha;

* nonchalantly brushed the Arroyo-Le-Cirque-category insensitivity of the recent Porsche and bulletproof Lexus brouhaha

* played lousy poker with the Chinese drug mule issue

* has juveniles in its diplomatic trips who are more concerned about wine and pretty faces than diplomacy

* arrogated the performance of Gloria Arroyo in securing the MCC millenium package;

* retaining an incompetent DILG undersecretary (well in fairness, there’s lots of incompetent USecs)

* caught with pants down with the OFWs debacle in the midst of the Arabian spring;

These were the very nature of things that were foreseen to happen in an Aquino presidency.

Clearly, the pro-Aquino forces had the resources, had the better communication strategy – but definitely, the wrong programs (if there was one in the first place).

To a discerning electorate – spotting the fluff in Aquino’s campaign message was easy, specially when run against the facts of Aquino’s lack of ability and capacity for the job.

However, for a non-discerning electorate – the results can be catastrophic when a leader bumbles and fumbles from one crisis to another. And this has never been more glaring today in the growing list of Aquino’s misadventures in governance. It is ironic that while Aquino mouths good governance as the key, his governance is anything but good.

25 years after EDSA

During Noynoy Aquino’s speech on the 25th year after EDSA 1, he asked these 3 questions:

1) Are we not better off today than we were a generation ago?

2) Have we not finally regained the respect of the global community as a beacon of democracy?

3) Are we not on the way to becoming a more equitable society?”

Allow me to answers questions #3 and #2 first, and I’ll finish up with the answer to #1.

Are we not on the way to becoming a more equitable society?

A review of the Gini Coefficient shows the Philippines remains above 40 – the lowest Gini since 1985.

2010 – 44 – Arroyo
2006 – 45.8 – Arroyo
2003 – 44.53 – Arroyo
2000 – 48.1 – Estrada
1997 – 46.2 (FVR/Asian Crisis)
1994 – 42.89 – FVR
1991 – 43.82 – Cory
1988 – 40.63 – Cory
1985 – 41.04 – Marcos

What that means is that Philippines has High Levels of Social Inequality. Therefore, NO we are not on the way to becoming a more equitable society.

Have we not finally regained the respect of the global community as a beacon of democracy?

AP’s position on this matter is quite well-known. However, let’s have other voices do the talking.

As Maria Ressa puts it on CNN – “People power should never have become part of the regular political arsenal; it was a once-in-a-lifetime act that should have been followed by the hard work of building democratic institutions. That never happened. That is the work that, 25 years later, desperately needs to be done in the Philippines — and the lesson Egypt should take to heart.”

Bobit Avila says After EDSA: We are still wanting for reforms! – – “Open any national news daily or any TV network channels and you will see ugly reports of killings, rape, kidnappings, Senate hearings (that doesn’t lead to imprisonment of those charged), our problems with Muslim separatists and the still raging internal conflict waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) through its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA). That promise of change in effect only changed the top leadership of this nation, but the system that could have launched this country to new heights was never put in place. Yes, I’m referring to our shift to a federal system of government away from this centralized form of government.”

BBC’s Kate McGeown, also wrote in People Power at 25: Long road to Philippine democracy – And while the revolution brought some name changes in the top echelons of power, that power remained concentrated among a small rich elite – something that is still the case today. Cory Aquino’s administration also brought few improvements to the lives of the poor, and failed to lessen the yawning gap between them and the moneyed few. And perhaps most surprisingly, the revolution also failed to get rid of the Marcoses. Ferdinand died in Hawaii shortly after he was ousted from office, but his flamboyant 81-year-old widow Imelda is back in the Philippines, with a seat in Congress. Several of his children also hold government posts – his son Bongbong is an influential senator and could well run for the presidency in the next elections in 2016.

Are we not better off today than we were a generation ago?

Ted Reyes, gives juicy answers for Noynoy Aquino to chew on. Ted, in his blog post – Where is the Philippines 25 years after EDSA that:

25 years after EDSA, the Philippines is ranked as the most dangerous place for journalists. In the nine-year administration of Gloria Arroyo, scores of media men have been killed for doing their jobs.

25 years after EDSA, the Philippines is ranked in the top 10 most corrupt nations on earth.

25 years, after EDSA, many works of art are still getting censored out if they are contrary to the government or the church.

25 years after EDSA, the government, Muslim, as well as, communist rebels are still engaged in peace talks and in between, thousands die.

25 years after EDSA, the Philippines is still under heavy debt and has yet to find itself out of the bracket of third world nations.

25 years after EDSA, election fraud continues to decide who will govern.

25 years after EDSA, the politicians in power today bear the following family names: Marcos, Romualdez, Aquino, Cojuangco, Estrada, and Enrile.

Most of the heroes and villains of EDSA 1986 maybe dead and gone, but the demons that made the heroes rise up and fight are still alive and kicking.

Perhaps these demons will outlive us all, including the spirit of that miraculous four days on Epiphanio De Los Santos Avenue.

If 25 years after EDSA we still question its point, then it has no point at all.

If a quarter of a century has passed since EDSA, and we still question if it succeeded, then it failed.

It may be hard to swallow but yes, the spirit of EDSA is dead.

We grieve as we surrender to the truth that 25 years after EDSA, nothing has changed.

For short – NO, we are not better of today than we were a generation ago- it actually feels we are WORSE. There are more thieves, clowns, and incompetents in government. A generation ago, I was living and working in the Philippines and had no reason to migrate. Funny how a few years can make a difference. When Erap won the Presidency, it was time to move on because the Philippine electorate isn’t ready for honst-to-goodness development, yet.

Perhaps, the incompetence of Aquino is really needed to drive home the point to our collective national consciousness. The point being – winnability is not enough.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the Filipino electorate.

The Philippine electorate voted for winnability – and got what they asked for.

Worse, Estrada was playing second to Aquino. If Aquino lost, Estrada would have been president.

The ultimate challenge is to be able to reach out and connect with the Philippine electorate to initiate a paradigm shift – from winnability to ability – a meritocracy.

Depending on how one looks at it – EDSA I was the beginning or the end of the Philippines as we know it.

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