Aquino first year

The possible dream

So much commentary has been written in time for P-Noy’s first anniversary: wondering, judging, evaluating, scoring and scouring his accomplishments and failures. A respected executive editor writes an open letter plaintively asking, “Tell us where we’re going Mr. President”. I bumped into a businessman-friend who asked me in earnest, “So how do you rate the President so far?” Not wanting to be drawn into a profound discussion, I jokingly said that I was happy because my President is not stealing from me. To which he lightly admonished, “Your standards are too low. He must do more than that.” Even my house-help needed reassurance that P-Noy is doing his job. Does he really play PS3 into the wee hours of the morning?

The Noysayers seem primed to diminish or demolish anyone who gives a positive appraisal about this administration. A quick scan of the “reviews” shows a wide range of valid to petty criticisms that P-Noy would do well to address or ignore. Some come from well-intentioned and knowledgeable quarters while others are obviously from sources with their own agenda. It is good to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The scholarly who used “metrics” for objective assessment and the bona fide bloggers with substantial observations are worth considering. But elements like the frustrated ex-GMA-Cabinet-turned-scathing-critic [because he didn’t get the requested extension of the cushy ambassadorship], the geezer once described by Marcos as “so young, so brilliant and so corrupt”, the residual PR agents from defeated presidential campaigns determined to keep earning their retainer, the vociferous nasty netizens empowered by anonymity and world-rage and the Congress pit bulls who really have dense and short memories — they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Yes there were real errors committed and weak links that magnify the impression of ineptitude. Three frequently-mentioned points of censure are legitimate: the bungled hostage rescue of HK tourists barely three months after sitting in office; the borrowed-from-Erap and rehashed-from-Cory “KKK” allegation; and to a far lesser degree, the ill-timed purchase of the Porsche.

The death of eight Hong Kong nationals was a horrible baptism of fire. This was exacerbated by the non-action taken on DOJ’s recommendations. Per se, choosing trusted friends is not wrong, especially if they are qualified and live by the same values as their chief. Names were cited as “frenemies” of good governance. They should seriously assess if their continued presence damages the President. But having said that, the one who appointed a manicurist and gardener in plum positions, should bite her lips and bow her head.

Now the Porsche. Personally, I have no problem with our bachelor President lightening his burden and amusing himself with a toy that he paid for with his own money. Compared to former presidents who built a Boracay mansion or bought a huge Brazilian plantation with the people’s money, this lapse of judgment was a venial sin.

The oil-and-water Samar+Balay= Sablay combo continue to be unwieldy if not inefficient in the critical area of communications. No wonder very few know which direction the President wants to go. His vision is articulated in various pieces of communiqués, the most recent being EO43. This reorganized the Cabinet into clusters mandated to fulfill the five outcomes that P-Noy wants to achieve.

A bit verbose, the vision states: A re-awakened sense of right and wrong, through the living examples of our highest leaders; An organized and widely-shared rapid extension of our economy through a government dedicated to honing and mobilizing our people’s skills and energies as well as the responsible harnessing of our natural resources; A collective belief that doing the right thing does not only make sense morally but translates to economic values as well; public institutions rebuilt on the strong solidarity of our society and its communities.

Conceptually, this means “Matuwid na Pag-unlad” [Straight Road to Progress] where progress is defined as achieved only when there is: 1) A transparent, accountable and participatory government; 2) Poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable; 3) Rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth; 4) Just and lasting peace and rule of law; 5) Integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

But ”where’s the beef?” The Departments, with their respective cabinet clusters, should line-up the strategies and programs needed for desired results. This time, gains cited should be for real unlike the past, conjured numbers of new classrooms built and 1M jobs created! And for those who feel that walking the straight path to progress is too slow, jog your memory on where the country was after 21 years of Marcos and nine years of GMA!

It might be timely to remind ourselves that as citizens, we too are under review. What have we done to help move our country forward? While leaders shape their followers, followers shape their leaders too. What kind of bosses are we, great at carping and faultfinding, but short on constructive action and community spirit? Consider the behavior when traffic is snarled by continuous rains — to each his own; to hell with the law; each man for himself. Yet we expect that one man should deliver what we aspire for.

Lastly, a President that doesn’t steal is not a facetious statement. In fact if all that P-Noy accomplishes in six years were to curb deep-seated corruption it would be a great legacy. According to the World Bank, the leakage from the national budget was at P1.4T from 2000-2009. That could have paid off more-than-half of our debt obligation. Or built 1.4M schoolhouses, 2.4M health clinics and 87,500 kms of national roads. More important, Philippines will no longer be branded as one most corrupt countries in the world, haunted by scandals like ZTE, Philhealth, the fertilizer scam et al.

To fulfill the possible dream, let us draw inspiration from the immortal song — “to be better far than we are… one man, scorned and covered with scars; still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star.

The possible dream was written by Ms. Yoly Villanueva-Ong.  We republished it here because we thought it to be really good.

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