Make way for the new KKK
HE WAVE of goodbye was directed to a heckling crowd. This was a crowd that wanted to seize the last moments to heap ridicule on a leader that surveys had described as “one of the most unpopular the country has ever had,” as the national dailies reported the morning of the presidential inauguration.
“Booing and thunderous applause rose from the crowd” as the outgoing president left the Quirino Grandstand. “They seemed ecstatic to see the last” of this president, the reports said. “Uwi na! Uwi na!” (Go home! Go home!), screamed one woman as the face of the outgoing president appeared on the giant screen. Outrage was displayed with thumbs down signs.
As the outgoing president reviewed the troops for the last time, one woman said in Filipino, “You are pitiful. You are greedy! You still have the gumption to face the people,” directing her words at the outgoing leader’s face shown on the video wall.
Such did the raucous crowd at the presidential inauguration of June 30, 2010, vent their anger on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Albeit the Inquirer report also added: “But some in the huge crowd were also heard chanting, ‘Gloria! Gloria!’ One man in yellow stopped a friend from heckling: ‘Don’t boo, just respect the President.’”
Six years ago, the Filipino mind was engrossed in writing the sins of the outgoing president on the tally sheet. Will it be no different this time? In fact, the less forgiving social media has already began its litany of Mr. Aquino’s sins of commission and omission even before the elections of May 9, as if doing so would bring about a kind of national catharsis.
As Arroyo strode on the parade grounds of the Quirino Grandstand, foremost on the minds of the watching public were the “Hello, Garci” controversy, the national broadband network controversy, the fertilizer fund scam, the North Rail project fiasco, Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and its disastrous aftermath, not to mention the dinner at New York’s classy Le Cirque just a few days before Cory Aquino’s death.
Social media, unfettered and uncensored, has already drawn up its list of the Aquino controversies that partly decided the results of the presidential election: the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program for which calls have already been made to put Mr. Aquino and his Budget Secretary Butch Abad in jail; some have already posted memes of wheelchairs. One potent fact cannot be relegated to the dustbin of oblivion—so much public consciousness still remains about that part of the DAP that allegedly went to the reward money (to the tune of P50 million) for each of the 20 senator-judges who voted to impeach then Chief Justice Renato Corona. “Outright bribery, right at the presidential doorstep,” said Joker Arroyo who voted to acquit.
It certainly was bad fate for the Aquino administration that Corona died at the height of this year’s presidential campaign. Poetic justice? The public was aptly reminded once again of Mr. Aquino’s machinations and the use of bribery by an administration that claims to be righteous by the people. Righteous, my foot!
Of the sins of omission, the most glaring on the list would be the negligence that led to the MRT serial breakdowns and the international airport mismanagement. Mr. Aquino has not been seen nor heard to issue marching orders to fix the problem in both controversies, especially to an airport manager who is family to him. The Mamasapano massacre and the missing “Yolanda” funds will continue to be broken refrains until those guilty will be brought to the bars of justice.
The erosion of Mr. Aquino’s integrity started fundamentally with his characteristic coddling of close friends and shooting buddies. That the creative public mind has been prolific in coining the graphic nomenclatures like kaibigan and kabarilan (add to these, noynoying) should be no small matter. It must be continually emphasized that this was something unexpected of a President whose message of incorruptibility was his presidential theme. Mr. Aquino never learned from the repugnant tag “Kamaganak Inc.” that hounded his mother’s presidency. Alan Purisima and Raul Petrasanta have already fallen. You can be sure what public ridicule will hound Manila International Airport Authority head Jose Angel Honrado the moment he steps down.
Six years of pent-up anger over favoritism, the unconstitutional practice of using discretionary funds sans line items in the budget (a form of corruption, no less), and the protection of inept presidential friends formed part of the “change is coming” grand narrative that helped Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sweep the 2016 presidential election. And this exactly is where the incoming president must tread cautiously. The signs seem to indicate he has not, and the criticisms against his appointments must be taken as reasonable public indicators, to say the least.
“We thought we elected Duterte. We elected Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,” said one. The public is never oblivious of political horse-trading. To underestimate the public now—as it had been underestimated before—for its “ignorance” of the political wheeling and dealing happening is a grave mistake. Thus it has begun an accounting of classmates—kaklase—from grade school, high school, law school, even a dormitory roommate (“Perfecto Yasay, gulp!” said one).
Mr. Aquino didn’t have deep pockets then in 2010. This one seems to be no different—enough talks of a Justin Trudeau Cabinet of cultural diversity and meritocracy. Without meritocracy, the momentum for change has begun its spiral downturn.
Will there be public ridicule and heckling the moment Mr. Aquino steps down at high noon of June 30, 2016? Only the new president can answer that—unless he wants to be booed on June 30, 2022.
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