Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First 100 Days: The PNoy Administration

The first 100 days of the Noynoy Aquino administration would be on the 8th of October, and already, some groups, sectors and even individuals have come up with their ready assessment as far as the performance of the President and his flock is concerned.

Today, I try to digest my personal views of the current administration, based on events I identified as defining moments of his first 100 days.

Getting over with, Greeting the new Presidency with optimism

I lamented in Gibo Teodoro's defeat, as soon as I found out the margin for him to catch up was so wide. He was the candidate I chose who represented the meaning of true blue reform in this country, the one who bore specific, grounded and granular plans for the country.

But somehow, I found solitude and peace knowing that the Filipino people had put so much trust and confidence in the newly elected leadership of the country. A personal loss was somehow appeased by the feeling that the country you think of has found renewed inspiration and hope in the person of a new President.

The First Minor Test- Selecting the Pieces

Perhaps, one of the tougher things an elected President must do is carefully select the members of his cabinet. Given that view, President Aquino created a Search committee for those who may want to apply for Cabinet posts.

The Media started second guessing as to who would compose the PNoy administration, and it came as no surprise that the Hyatt 10 members were given major cabinet positions. I have nothing against these people personally, but with their track record of betrayal, I must warn Mr. Aquino of what can be in store for him should he not satisfy the whims of these people. Well, what better way for PNoy to satisfy their urges by increasing the budget of the departments the Hyatt 10 people now handle. That should keep them happy, FOR NOW.

The best choices were probably the appointment of former CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima as DOJ Secretary, former Naga City Jesse Robredo as DILG Secretary and DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, a CESO. I found these appointments reflective of the reform agenda this administration sought to push.

The First Memo- uh oh...

Barely into his first week in office, the administration was already in defense mode, with the release of the first memorandum circular on tenure of office for CESO's and NON-CESO's (Career Executive Service Officers). There was confusion already as to when the NON CESO's contracts expire and the question of sustainability and continuity of government operations with the vacuum to be left by the vacancies.

Apparently, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was put in a tough spot, a very tough spot, because the administration wanted to make a mark so early without thinking really well of what it wanted to do.

This was an epic fail, and no excuse would be entertained for this failure.

The Wangwang

The President's use of the wangwang was very popular in the first few days of the administration, citing the President's being one of us as the central message of this act.

Many Filipino's found it a nice gesture, a humble initiative by the President and signaled a supposed new era in Philippine Politics. But while the intent was good, it was later to be found that it had affected the President's appointments, the most evident being the delay of AFP Ceremonies because the President had arrived late by around 30 minutes.

The excuse the President offered was- it was my first time being late in an appointment. I have never been late in all of my previous ones.

Projection at the cost of productivity, hmmm...

The Media Warm President

One good thing about the President is his openness to the press and media. While the former had a platoon of spokespersons to answer, the President wanted to ensure he had time to talk and address the media personally.

The President was intent on fulfilling his promise of transparency and accountability, and this is one thing I actually like about PNoy, his openness and truthfulness.

However, perhaps too much also exposed him to many allegations later on.

As they say in modelling, you have to strike the perfect pose and balance. That, I can also say to the President.

The Hacienda Luisita Issue

One thing that had never left Aquino's watch since the campaign period was the issue over Hacienda Luisita. Also, during the first few weeks of his administration, Auxilliary Bishop of the CBCP, Bishop Roderick Fabillo came out in the open to call on the President to act on the TRO released by the Supreme Court regarding the distribution of 6453 hectares of land in Hacienda Luisita.

The President's response to this issue was very professional, that bore with it the respect the executive has with the independence of the judiciary.

The Manila Hostage Incident- Clearly mishandled

The biggest test of the current administration came during the height of the Hostage Taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand, the same venue where he was inaugurated into public office.
The issue here was the initial no hands policy of the National Government, and all of a sudden the all hands policy of the National Executive after the incident.

There was a lapse in judgment, may PNoy admit or not, in the handling of the incident. What made it worse is that it was only after the rancor and outrage felt by the Hong Kong and Chinese people that President Aquino issued a formal apology. I always believe in the adage that "justice delayed is justice denied", and that the HK and Chinese people were deprived of a sincere apology from our Head of State.

Learning experiences should never come at a cost of losing lives, and the bungle should not be attributed to a lack of experience on this issue. There has never been a farm system or development league for Philippine Presidents, as far as my recollection goes.

The Foreign Trip- Success or Pre-made success?

President Aquino made his major trip abroad to attend the United Nations Assembly held in New York. There, he was able to meet with different leaders of other nations, and also discuss partnerships with international NGO's and Filipino American groups to help our locals here in the country.

There, according to his account, he had a short dialogue with US President Obama on US-Philippines Relations. It was nice seeing the President accomplish something, especially the good news that there are new investments coming to our country, which means more jobs for our countrymen here.

The question though comes as, "Was this a pre-arranged deal made during President Arroyo's term?" I'm sure by nature, these businesses would not jump out readily because of the popularity of this President, because business factors also come into play, such as stability of the economy. I'm sure, these decisions followed processes that required time and careful study.

Whether the investments should be attributed to Arroyo or Aquino, this is still a victory for our Filipino people.

The RH Bill

One of the President's more stronger pronouncements really is his support for pro-choice, responsible parenthood on the issue of Reproductive Health. He stressed that the government was willing to give incentives and assistance to families/communities who were willing to be helped when it comes to their reproductive health.

This issue will further test PNoy's leadership amidst threats of excommunication, civil disobedience et. al, made by the institutional church of our country.

A Sign of things to come?

PNoy's First 100 days clearly has sent a strong signal to us Filipino's- that we have to do a lot of working, participating and engaging when it comes to making our country better off.

Regardless if we voted for him or not, we are bounden by the duty to support the President in issues we feel he is right, and constructively criticize in issues we feel he is doing rather wrongly. The democratic space of course allows opposition to those ideas, but then again, at the end of the day, productive action should be the outcome of all principled dialogues and exchanges.

We saw some glimmer of hope, but also a slate of failures borne out of the lofty expectations set by the people on PNoy.

People have to understand that PNoy is not Jesus Christ who will save them from all their problems and sins on Earth.

I'd put my message as simple as I can to the parties involved:

PNoy- You should get over the hang of the campaign period. Now is the time to start initiating institutional reforms, and not creating more bureaucracies that will bloat the government further. It's also time to get rid of your personal friends who do no good to your good image. There is no use in keeping friends that harm the character you have worked hard for in your years in public service. There is indeed hope for this country, but let not Filipino's become hope fools because of overly ambitious promises, but let them become hopefuls turned action makers because of the vision and directive you have the capacity of making.

People- Don't pin your hopes on the President. For the many years of your lives, you had no PNoy as your President, yet you were able to survive. Whether he succeeds or fails by his own doing, we have to be ready to help ourselves, one another, as we journey into tougher times, characterized by increasing prices of basic services and commodities, high costs of transportation and largely lack of equitable economic opportunities.

Today, the same as June 30, we should remain hopeful that we can do the change making, with the President, because without us, the Head cannot be head without a fully functional state, thus the Head of State only becomes figurative than operational.

This is a call for national unity, solidarity, that above our political
differences, our solutions, our programs for a better country, our dreams of a
better future for our children, can co-exist and can breathe its own under one
society, under the Philippine flag.

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