Voting against Kris

Voting against Kris
By Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer

THAT Kris Aquino (and Boy Abunda) will run Malacañang is an oft-repeated joke one hears in this campaign season. It is a line that certainly should not be given too much weight in the hierarchy of national problems. It is, as it should be, a non-issue.

But a non-issue it does not seem to be. Listen again to Kris saying that she will reside in the United States if and when her brother wins Malacañang; this would appear to be a tacit admission that fears of Kris manipulating the state of affairs had reached the fractious Liberal Party camp. It can perhaps start with a simple suggestion for “Noy to undergo Botox procedure.” And then it can graduate to more serious suggestions that may translate into policies. (This is not to say that state secrets will be revealed on “The Buzz.”)

Not a few estimations—perceptions—describe Noynoy Aquino’s nebulous stance on reproductive health as actually influenced by, among others, Kris’ own sense of personal morality, given her sordid record of past sexual promiscuity. That she is cohabiting with a man without the benefit of church marriage is another view I have heard.

All is quiet now from the mouth of Kris, about what she had repeated before national cameras—“Noy, please don’t get married”—but this silence doesn’t appear to be a mitigating factor in people’s fear of Kris. Rumors, invented or otherwise, are still part of the presidential campaign menu in the Philippines.

If her “opposition” to Shalani Soledad, her brother’s girlfriend, is true, one gets a picture of a cinematic Kris Aquino who herself has no sense of borders of where her real and reel life begins and ends. Shalani then is more than just a pretty face and demure voice but a flesh-and-blood personality who has her own stake in what a Noynoy presidency would be. That is what public perception says.

Kris is a phenomenon in this campaign. I am not referring to her reported 30-plus percent vote-getting rate whenever she endorses a candidate, as contrasted with the less than 30 percent of Willie Revillame’s (another perceived problem person). They are phenomena in this campaign in the sense that they actually confirm the social defect we have been trying to reform in our election system, that Philippine elections are actually personality-based. After “Hello Garci,” we had thought we had graduated to a mature issue-based selection of candidates.

In fact, it is now more than just candidates swaying and sashaying on the campaign stage. Just looking at the cabal of ABS-CBN talents that Kris was able to muster and organize for Noynoy’s campaign sorties and television ads, one readily knows that Philippine elections are still fixated on personalities rather than the meatier issues of national problems. Kris is both symbol and epitome of our infantile politics. Like Baby James, we have all been rendered babes.

Today, March 15, 2010, less than two months away from national elections, Noynoy Aquino has still evaded the opportunity of articulating what his program of government will be—apart from what he has instead used as tirades against the present occupant in Malacañang (notice the personality base of his discourses). Mar Roxas’ tag of “Villaroyo” does not help us mature either. It could very well be Arroyoxas or Arroyoquino. The allegedly perceived front-runners in surveys are all doing the personality-based politics. And the people like it.

This very much tells us that the Cory magic, certainly now on the wane, is not enough to propel even a Cory son or daughter into the same pedestal that we now reserve for the late former president. Certainly not for Noynoy and Kris, the two most visible among the Aquino siblings, but among the most unfortunate archetypes of Cory Aquino.

This very much tells us that the Cory magic is not automatically transferable to any of the Aquino children. This very much tells us that Cory was possibly sui generis—that she was a class of her own and that she is a tough act to follow. But this also tells us by what standards it is possible for the Cory exemplar to be exemplified. And a hazy Noynoy, aided by the wrong paradigm that his amusingly and brutally tactless (as contrasted to “entertaining”) sister is, does not seem to be the formula.

A recent investigative study making the rounds of the Internet amply says it all for us regarding Noynoy’s personality-based politics:

“Even after Arroyo delivered her famous ‘I am sorry’ speech on TV on June 27, 2005, which the public took as an admission of guilt … Rep. Noynoy Aquino said in a June 29, 2005 report that President Arroyo should be commended for admitting her mistake. He said her televised apology was ‘a good start’ for her administration. At the fifth Congressional hearing on the Garci issue on June 30, 2005, three days after Arroyo’s televised ‘I am sorry’ speech, Rep. Noynoy Aquino voted against playing the ‘Hello, Garci’ tapes.”

“‘Tarlac Rep. Benigno Aquino III disappointed his colleagues in the House when he voted on Thursday night against the playing of the audio tape, although an overwhelming majority had voted yes,’ reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 2, 2005.”

Enter “The Buzz” unto the gates of Malacañang, for, after all, we have lost our civility as a nation.

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Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.