WHY do Duterte’s back­ers see Aquino as a vil­lain?

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE -

As the 15th pres­i­dent of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was largely un­tar­nished by any ac­cu­sa­tion of per­sonal cor­rup­tion dur­ing his six years in of­fice. His ad­min­is­tra­tion is touted by busi­ness­men as the pe­riod when the Philippines at­tained re­mark­able eco­nomic growth. He has also been spared the scathing vit­riol of his widely pop­u­lar suc­ces­sor, so far.

But just a year af­ter his leav­ing Mala­cañang, there’s a per­cep­tion that a large num­ber of those who idol­ize Pres­i­dent Duterte con­sider Aquino a vir­tual vil­lain com­pared to their reign­ing hero. Even dis­count­ing the ob­vi­ous trolls, zeal­ous sup­port­ers of Mr. Duterte would read­ily launch a coun­ter­at­tack on his crit­ics by ac­cus­ing them of be­ing fol­low­ers of Aquino, who they blame for the wors­ened ills of our so­ci­ety.

The ridicule heaped on Aquino per­sists de­spite his si­lence, even in the face of the many con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion that have un­der­mined the trum­peted achieve­ments of the pre­vi­ous one. The Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion’s vic­tory in the West Philip­pine Sea in­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion against China is one is­sue that Mr. Duterte has vir­tu­ally set aside.

Aquino presided over a pe­riod when: For­mer pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo was charged and im­pris­oned for five years on cor­rup­tion charges (although she was ac­quit­ted last year); then Chief Jus­tice Re­nato Corona was im­peached and re­moved from of­fice be­cause of his undis­closed wealth; and then Sen­a­tors Juan Ponce En­rile, Jing­goy Estrada, and Bong Revilla were charged with plun­der, with all three still un­der­go­ing trial, and with Estrada and Revilla lan­guish­ing in prison to this day.

Un­der the sec­ond Aquino pres­i­dency, the “mother of all scams” in­volv­ing the plun­der of P10 bil­lion in pork bar­rel funds was ex­posed, with Janet Lim Napoles as al­leged master­mind, and five sen­a­tors and 23 rep­re­sen­ta­tives as con­spir­a­tors.

Un­der Aquino’s watch, the Philippines’ Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct grew at a yearly av­er­age of 6.2 per­cent, while other coun­tries suf­fered eco­nomic slow­down. The Philippines also earned in­vest­ment-grade rat­ing from in­ter­na­tional credit rat­ing agen­cies.

There were two ma­jor scan­dals that rocked the pres­i­dency of Noynoy Aquino. The first was the 2010 Luneta hostage cri­sis where eight Hong Kong tourists were killed. The sec­ond was the 2015 Ma­mas­apano tragedy where 44 po­lice­men be­long­ing to the Spe­cial Ac­tion Force were killed by Moro rebels. Aquino was ac­cused of grossly and reck­lessly mis­man­ag­ing both in­ci­dents. He has re­cently been charged by the Om­buds­man for usurpa­tion of au­thor­ity on the Ma­mas­apano in­ci­dent.

But com­pared to the mul­ti­ple scan­dals and mas­sive in­stances of cor­rup­tion that tainted the two pres­i­dents who pre­ceded him—Ar­royo and Joseph Estrada—the cases of wrong­do­ing as­cribed to Aquino were es­sen­tially omis­sions of dili­gence rather than com­mis­sion of crimes.

All th­ese not­with­stand­ing, Mr. Duterte’s sup­port­ers heap far more scorn on Aquino com­pared to Ar­royo and Estrada. Is it be­cause the peo­ple still have fresh mem­o­ries of Aquino’s blun­ders com­pared to a dimmed rec­ol­lec­tion of the of­fenses of Estrada and Ar­royo? Or is it be­cause Mr. Duterte’s noisy de­trac­tors are viewed as sour-grapes sup­port­ers of Aquino’s can­di­dates in the past elec­tions?

The dis­dain for Aquino de­spite his achieve­ments may be be­cause his ac­com­plish­ments were not felt as per­cep­ti­ble ben­e­fits in mat­ters where many peo­ple had des­per­ately been long­ing for change. Aquino was fo­cused on the macro level, while peo­ple had been des­per­ate for change at the mi­cro level. Hence, not­with­stand­ing his an­ti­cor­rup­tion and eco­nomic­growth achieve­ments, at the ground level peo­ple felt no im­prove­ment in their lives. They con­tinue to be be­set with “endo” con­tracts, with ram­pant drug abuse in their neigh­bor­hoods, with wors­en­ing traf­fic, and with a fu­ture bereft of brighter op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This should serve as a cau­tion­ary tale for the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion. Af­ter the peo­ple have sifted through the blus­ter and rhetoric, will they see a hero turned into an­other vil­lain?

———— Com­mentsto flea­mar­ketofideas@gmail.com


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.