FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

#NasaanangPangulo is now on top of the Twitter chart not only locally but globally. That is a measure of how agitated our citizens are not only about the massacre that happened but the way President Aquino handled it.

The heavens are falling. Only Aquino seems unaware of it.

When the Luneta hostage incident was terribly bungled in 2010, only a few perceptive voices spoke about the dangers of incompetent leadership. Joker Arroyo called the new Aquino administration a “student council.” Much of our public, however, decided to postpone disbelief and give Aquino the opportunity to redeem himself.

It helped that the administration remained on full propaganda throttle. The legislature was kept beholden with massive doses of pork. Applying the Nazi maxim about repeating a lie a thousand times, Aquino was repetitive about the sins of his predecessor, returning to the theme at every opportunity appropriately or not. An army of trolls was retained to hound the social media sites and bully every dissenting voice.

When the President chronically delivered speeches that needed serious fact checking, the mainstream media glossed over the errors. The honeymoon was long, even as the administration bungled our diplomacy, bungled budget management and bungled the infrastructure program.

Eventually, however, the excrement piled up under the fan. The limits were reached.

When Pope Francis arrived the other week, Aquino delivered a long monologue in the usual monotone. It was a badly conceived speech – rude, coarse, small-minded, petty and inappropriate. The public was disgusted.

Then the massacre happened. For four days, as the nation stood in shock, nothing was heard from Aquino.

Nothing, until it was announced he would address the nation on primetime television Wednesday. The last time he did this, he attacked the Supreme Court and nearly precipitated a constitutional crisis after his “disbursement acceleration program” was declared unconstitutional. It was a speech that betrayed an utter lack of understanding about the rule of law. It was a frightening speech because it told us we are led by someone unprepared to respect the separation of powers.

That speech attacking the Supreme Court was completely uncalled for. It should not have been delivered at all. But it was.

The same might be said of last Wednesday’s address to the nation. If the President had nothing important to say, he should not have wasted everybody’s time by deciding to address the nation.

Our citizens dropped everything. Giving the President the benefit of the doubt, they invested time listening to a speech that eventually said nothing. Aquino was clearly evasive and intentionally vague.

This non-event merely added exasperation to the anger seething in the streets. That is the reason we topped the Twitter charts.

The Chief Executive addressing his people on primetime is an extraordinary event. The address must be substantial. It must galvanize the population, resonate among the citizenry and, at the very least, enlighten.

Interrupting everything for a non-speech can only be a supreme act of political vanity – or simply lame-brained. The President deserves the tremendous backlash to that non-speech for being so callous to his people’s sentiments.


At the peak of his powers, Napoleon Bonaparte, the boor who ruled France two centuries ago, decided he should be emperor. He asked the Pope to come and crown him as such. The Pope refused.

Irked, Napoleon sent an army down to Rome. The Pope was dragged out of the Vatican and brought to Paris. Thoroughly humiliated, the Pope agreed to perform the coronation in lavish ceremonies. At the last moment, when the Pope was about to put the crown on Napoleon’s head, the despot grabbed it and crowned himself.

The point of the whole exercise was for Napoleon to marvel at his own power. It was a moment of supreme political narcissism.

Four senators last Thursday attempted a pathetic copy of this event. They decided that the Mayor of Makati, who asked to be furnished a list of questions to be asked of him before he appeared as resource person before the senatorial inquisition, be cited for contempt.

The four senators twisted the rules of the Senate, that turned out to be unwritten, to produce a warrant for the younger Binay. The warrant skirted the authority of the Senate President whose signature was not sought.

Having produced a warrant, they sent out a posse to drag the Mayor of Makati to the Senate. Manhandled, humiliated and brought forcibly to the Senate floor, Junjun Binay was then petulantly dismissed and sent home. A flippant flick of a senatorial finger ended the episode.

The sum of four boorish senatorial egos might approximate that of Napoleon’s. But Guingona, Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes, in their wildest dreams cannot match the flair and audacity of Napoleon Bonaparte. They can only mimic his most inconsequential acts.

 If these four can play out their narcissistic fantasies, go on a power trip, on the Mayor of Makati then all ordinary citizens are in peril. Those of us who do not share the senators’ inflated understanding of their power may simply be cited in contempt and summarily demeaned.

The Senate has become a chamber of ignorant despots. The despots peer into their looking glasses and admire the grandeur of the power they imagine they possess – power that is unrestrained by clear rules or even by good manners.

Wednesday, the President summons the nation to listen to him say nothing. Thursday, four senators order the arrest of a mayor charged with nothing in particular.

The events of this week tell us one thing: the political class that rules us has no class.












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