Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Romancing Politics

Every Filipino, probably, must have known, heard, or seen – in the television – Noynoy Aquino. Everybody who knew or has heard of him knows he is the only son of the “Wonder Boy of the Philippine politics,” Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and the former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who regained democracy from a dictatorial leadership under President Marcos. Ninoy, who is listed among the heroes of the country, was well loved by the people. In fact, it was his assassination triggered the coup d’etat and snap election that lead to People’s Revolution, which toppled down Marcos regime. Up until now, his heroic deeds, his nationalism, his charisma, his adeptness in public speaking and his articulateness are well admired and, probably, have been tried to be imitated. But he's quite a difficult terrain to follow. While Cory, given her limited experience in the public service and lack of time to prepare for the big tasks, has managed to deliver her job pretty well in all possible ways. Up until before she died, in August 1, 2009, she has able to maintain her reputation to be the loving mother of the nation and an icon for fighting and sustaining freedom. Her recent death made the country as one in mourning of a truly great loss.

Everybody knows Senator Noynoy Aquino as the son of the two venerated names in the Philippine politics, but never, so far, as Noynoy himself. Noynoy is even overshadowed by her very forthright and verbose celebrity sister Kris Aquino. Kris has displayed and created an identity of her own. Even so, Noynoy has been in the public service for about over 12 years. He is definitely not a neophyte in the public serving works. Only, I can not associate him with a distinct project or a bill or a law that’s directly linked to him. For that reason, I realized, I don’t know who Noynoy is as a public official.

Recently, during the 40th day commemoration of the former President Cory’s death, Noynoy has finally gave a light to the clamor and rumor of his intention of running for the presidential race this coming election. Yes, he is running for president. I wasn’t surprised. Philippine politics is predictable most of the time. Every politician who has an ambition for higher positions takes advantage and rides the wagon of popularity brought by a certain (political) phenomenon or hullabaloo. Though it wasn’t a news to me, I didn’t know exactly how to take and process the information. Honestly, I felt disgusted by the sudden intention of running, when all I know he has never mentioned of having the interest to run for president. Not this May, 2010, at least. Why now? Upon the death of her beloved mother, the sympathy of the people is overwhelming and the impulsive clamor of the public for him to run molded his decision, most likely. The chance of winning is high. In fact, he already surpassed Manny Villar as the leading contender in the presidential position in the recent SWS polls. What made me bothered above all is my doubt on his ability to be the captain of a wrecked and sunken ship. Obviously, Philippines is, at the moment, worst in everything. I can’t see one good thing in this country. Even the most dearly held culture of being hospitable, family bond and optimism – we always find happiness amidst scarcity – are already too hazy for me to recognize. We are a shattered culture. With all these humongous problems, issues and conflicts I can’t help but undermine Noynoy’s capacity to be the president of the nation.

This forced me research on Noynoy’s previous works/ideas as a public servant. I have found several. Below are the details.

Already passed in the Senate but still are pending before the House of Representative:

1. Senate Bill No. 2978 would amend Republic Act No. 6875, or the Loval Government Act, to put in place parameters for the selection of PNP Provincial Directors and City/Municipal Chief of Police for local government units.
2. Senate Bill No. 1710 would ban the re-appointed of a regular member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) who has already served the full term.

Are still pending before various committees in the Senate:

Government Procurement and Corruption
1. Senate Bill No. 2160 would introduce an amendment to Republic Act No. 9864, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which seeks to remove ambiguity so that the act would cover projects such as the National Broadband Network (NBN) project, the Cyber Education (CyberEd) project, and other projects of the scale.
2. Senate Bill No. 2053 would require contractors to handle the regular maintenance and preservation for public infrastructure after the end of the project
3. Senate Bill No. 3121 would add Congressional oversight to budget decisions undertaken by the President, including budget rescission, reservation, and deferral

Human Rights
1. Senate Bill No. 2159, or the Superior Responsibility Act of 2008, would adopt the doctrine of “Superior Responsibility” for all military and police personnel, in response to extra-judicial killings, particularly human rights activities and media practitioners

Workers’ Rights and Benefits
1. Senate Bill No. 1370, or the Workers Productivity Incentives Act of 2007 would grant annual productivity incentive bonuses to all workers in the private sector amounting to no less than 10% of the company’s net profits before taxes
2. Senate Bill No. 2036 would amend Republic Act No. 6727 otherwise known as the “Wage Rationalization Act,” to increase the penalties for non-compliance of the prescribed increases and adjustment in the wage rates of workers

Presidential Appointees
1. Senate Bill No. 1719 or the Appointee Eligibility Act of 2007, would limit the reappointment of presidential appointees by by-passed by the Commission on Appointment, in response to the alleged presidential abuse of appointments

He isn’t really a newbie, after all. And I can pretty see the sense and importance of those proposed bills. Other reliable testimonies of how he works made me relaxed a bit and submitted me to the chance of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, I haven’t chosen who to vote yet –If I were to vote, which I am not sure yet. If won’t see any potentially better leadership. My penny will be wasted, when I’ll force myself to select and buy among rotten tomatoes – given the selection of aspirants.

But can Noynoy sustain his popularity for nine months, until the May 2010 election? That’s one of the interesting question one could look at, given the tested fickle-mindedness and short-term memory of the Filipinos. How he could sustain his popularity is one another subject matter more interesting to talk about. He can’t, definitely, campaign using his parents’ memories, their words and platforms. It’s a suicide. Filipinos will get bored with it. I guess, he should just simply – but plain and strong – speak, as his own man, of what are his plans to salvage the nation. As I have read more about him and his previous works, I can see the idealism and passion. He seems to be quite different from the other presidential hopefuls. He hasn’t been in any filthy issues on corruption. He seems to be a genuine public servant at heart. For me, these will keep him going until next year, not his parents’ legacy. On how he would package these to convey his intent is the big challenge.

He might come out victorious next year. He is a better possibility.

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