Nobody at home (3)

Published by rudy Date posted on May 17, 2011

Here’s the body count so far from this administration’s version of justice for all:

Luneta hostage incident —Entire chain of command absolved; need to protect indispensable Cabinet members and LP bigwigs. Morong 43 —Self-confessed NPA cadres released; need to suck up to the Left. Multiple coup plotters—Danilo Lim and Antonio Trillanes amnestied on the eve of court decision; need to bolster allies in the AFP and the Senate.

Now for the other side of the picture: Tax and corruption cases—Pursue only the Arroyo family and allies. The courts —Add the Sandiganbayan to Aquino’s hit list within the justice system. And most recently, the RH bill—Threaten the bishops with sedition charges if they resist non-violently. So much for Tita Cory’s legacy.

Reacting to the Sandiganbayan’s endorsement of the General Garcia plea bargain, the President bewailed why the justices had decided “in a vacuum”—as if this isn’t in fact the desirable norm for judicial deliberation. Thankfully, his thoroughly vacuous comment was not repeated thereafter. If there’s a vacuum to be found—a total lack of substance—you really don’t have to wander very far from the President’s immediate vicinity.

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Let’s close out our series of pieces on nobody at home in the Palace by looking at the President’s remaining promises in his 16-point “Social Contract”. In the area of government service, here’s his promise number 11: “From Presidential appointees chosen mainly out of political accommodation, to discerning selection based on integrity, competence and performance in serving the public good.”

I must say that the current Cabinet isn’t any worse than its predecessors, and I’ve praised many of them in these pages before. Unfortunately, where the rubber meets the road—and the tires go flat—is a presidential style that relies precisely on nonstop accommodation, in order to massage the well-known factions who’re now endlessly jockeying for Palace power. These contending courtiers would have been put in their place a long time ago by a president with fewer insecurities about himself.

Watch how Aquino will handle all those losing LP and allied candidates once the one-year ban on their appointment expires. Miracles can happen, of course, but now that he’s threatened to jail the bishops, I won’t be expecting supernatural intervention.

Promise number 12: “From demoralized but dedicated civil servants, military and police personnel destined for failure and frustration due to inadequate operational support, to professional, motivated and energized bureaucracies with adequate means to perform their public service missions.”

This is a laughable misrepresentation of what actually happened when Aquino’s yellow army took over. The civil service was demoralized by the disregard of the yellows for career seniority and tenure, in their zeal to go after Mrs. Arroyo’s so-called midnight appointees. The military was demoralized by the witch-hunt launched against decade-old corruption charges, which ignored intervening reforms and demeaned the AFP overnight into one of the most corrupt institutions in the public eye. And the police were demoralized by the early display of ineptitude during the Luneta hostage incident.

Some of the ground initially lost has since been regained, but a full recovery is doubtful—not with the obviously biased agenda of the yellow army, the continuing lack of both strategic direction and hands-on leadership from the President, and the promulgation of a questionable new security doctrine that will compromise the peace negotiations as well as the very operations of our security forces.

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Promise number 13 on gender equality: “From a lack of concern for gender disparities and shortfalls, to the promotion of equal gender opportunity in all spheres of public policies and programs.” This is a promise that admittedly will take time for the President to fulfill. But he might want to start by retracting his lies about his predecessor, before he can even try to match her record in this area:

Under Mrs Arroyo, the very first women were appointed to head the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, Science & Technology, and the Peace Process, in addition to several Supreme Court Justices.

We were the only nation in Asia, and one of only six in the entire world, to close the gender gap in education and health.

We were recognized by the United Nations as the country with the greatest reduction in discrimination of women, and by the World Economic Forum as the only Asian country among in the top ten countries in the world championing gender parity.

Promise number 14 on peace and order: “From a disjointed, short-sighted Mindanao policy that merely reacts to events and incidents, to one that seeks a broadly supported just peace and will redress decades of neglect of the Moro and other peoples of Mindanao.”

Another laughable misrepresentation from a president whose only notable action so far on Mindanao was to try and postpone the scheduled ARMM elections. For no good reason except electoral gain in 2013, in clear violation of the Constitution, and with no support at all from the affected citizens, he is trying to deprive our Muslim brothers of their right to vote for their own leadership. If this is his version of a vision and plan for Mindanao that we’re still waiting for, then it’s a travesty.

The President’s last two promises have to do with the environment. Fifteen: “From allowing environmental blight to spoil our cities, where both the rich and the poor bear with congestion and urban decay, to planning alternative, inclusive urban developments where people of varying income levels are integrated in productive, healthy and safe communities.” And 16: “From a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of its environment, to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations.”

Facts are as cheap as words with this endlessly talkative president. As a matter of record, his predecessor, in her famously hands-on style, dedicated every Friday morning of her schedule to environmental matters. Mrs Arroyo pushed for recycling stations in every barangay, and won recognition abroad for her leadership in such advocacies as the Coral Triangle Initiative and reducing the country’s carbon footprint even more aggressively than global standards require.

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What about her successor? So far Aquino hasn’t even convened the Climate Change Commission, which he chairs. And his only notable action on the environment was a near-total ban on logging, which has mainly resulted only in slowing down the growth of local wood products manufacturing this year to only one-third of last year.

The logging ban admittedly provides instant gratification—much like winning a game on your PlayStation—but it’s still a poor substitute for simply enforcing the illegal logging laws more strictly, relying on the wood industry to protect their own interests through prudent forest management, and championing a philosophy of environmentally sustainable development of our God-given resources for human use.

Can we expect more and better from the President? Can he at least give us a real mission/vision statement at his next SONA, one year into his administration? Surely we deserve the pleasure of at least looking forward to a real breakthrough like that. –Gary Olivar, Manila Standard Today

(E-mail gary.olivar@censeisolutions.com)

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