Revolutions tend to create the seeds of their own destruction. In the closing chapter of 2009, the battle for 2010 began. Lines were drawn in the sand. The Force of Aquino was poised to take the presidency. Manny Viliar, the once favored candidate would fight the contest in less favorable territory. There would be a point in the campaign when Aquino and Villar would find themselves eye-to-eye, but Aquino’s forces rallied better than Villar’s.
Aquino’s camp attracted so many experts and so many capable men and women who believed that the future lay in electing a president that leads from the top. That to win the Presidency would be a step in the right direction to right wrongs.
A social contract was drawn up. A campaign platform was written.
There were many men like Ben Totanes and women like Betty Abrantes who joined the fray as soldiers in the vast Yellow Army. There were many such volunteers. There were those who fought in Cyberspace, to wage battle in that theater of war like their counterparts in the Villar, Gibo, and others camp. There were many more in the field of battle. Those countless nameless faces who fought the ground war to deliver for Aquino an epic victory.
In recent days, the controversy between Totanes’ and Coloma reached a fevered pitch. Totanes and Abrantes took the Facebook fan page and turned it into a multimillion club. Throughout the campaign it was touted as indicative of the people’s will. Especially since it was way more than Villar’s.
It was a battle for perception of course.
Two million likes is hard to fake. That was organic.
Of course the palace wanted it. No matter what the President’s trust rating says, it would be difficult to create a new fan page as much as 2 million. It was hard the first time, and it would be harder still now.
There are many schools of thought why there should only be one page. One official page, I may add. Aquino is president now, and there should only be one source of communication and that would be the Palace.
There is no doubt about that.
The way the situation was handled only tarnished the Palace, particularly the communications group.
Coloma’s statement on the matter was dry, and undiplomatic .
There was nothing to thank Totanes and Abrantes for the handwork they laid down. In so doing, and indadvertedly spat on the millions of volunteers that help bring Aquino to victory. It was a far cry from a campaign that valued every member of that team.
Were the negotiations behind the scenes so toxic to warrant that lack of graciousness and capriciousness?
The forced transfer of “likes,” broke down a tenant of this social media. It should be organic. It should happen because people wanted it to happen.
How difficult would it be to say, “This is our new official site, please like us.”
It showed a fatal lack of understanding of a Social Media, for a government that does fairly well to use it. It is almost schizophrenic.
Aquino’s critics have in recent months railed at far too many missteps of the past five months. They criticized that lack of capability in a few of the President’s men.
Cronyism did not disappear overnight. As we witnessed in the aftermath of the botched August 23 hostage taking, Aquino’s government still protected some of his men, when they should clearly defend themselves in court. Justice is important in the Philippines and when the Palace gives us the perception that it is protecting these loyal troops, it does not inspire at all.
Could that side be characterized as Hyde?
Yet on the flip side there is much to be thankful for. Five billion investments, just from Japan alone. Over US$400 million from Millennium Challenge Cup, the changes happening at various agencies of the government; the absence of airs from the President. All these are indicative of a government that, while very imperfect is working far better than the government it replaced.
The BIR while still below expected revenue is proceeding slowly.
DOST is doing better than expected.
DEPED is slowly getting there.
The government will announce a roadmap of public-private partnerships.
The organs of government while still years behind from being a real one is showing signs that at least this time around it is doing its best to be for the people. This side is like Jekyll. Benevolent. True.
Pulse Asia recently announced that Aquino’s trust rating is still in the stratosphere. The President’s rating dropped of course. A few news agencies made it a point to indicate that it was a nine point drop.
The President’s numbers are so high that there really is no other way for it but to go down.
The question isn’t whether that number is going down or up. The question is, when is the President going to take those numbers out for a spin?
When is the President going to lean on members of congress to fast track important laws like the reproductive health bill or the freedom of information act? When is the President going to use those numbers to indict corrupt officials from the former regime?
The changes are really slow in coming. The action the same, and it is easy enough to understand people’s frustration that things are too slow. The inertia of real life and government bureaucracy while understandable is also not a good excuse.
What was it that Frank Herbert wrote?
“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interest of the ruling class— whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires or entrenched bureaucracy.”
I had hope Aquino’s government would take a bit longer to get there. With this whole debacle on Facebook, his government took another step towards that aristocratic form.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe it is simply Mr. Hyde coming out to play.
That’s dangerous in itself.
Photo credit: in the public domain.