What will we remember of President Benigno Aquino III?

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - July 26, 2015 - 10:00am

The President will give his last State of the Nation Address today. This is the last stretch of his daang matuwid journey (the straight and righteous path) which he began six years ago. Will he change his course today knowing that the road he took was rough and a winding one? Will he apologize to the Filipino people for his shortcomings? Or will he continue to point fingers to the previous administration?

Has P-Noy fulfilled his mission? Is he satisfied with his accomplishments? Is he happy? Are the Filipinos happy? How will the people rate his presidency? Did he pass or did he fail? What will we remember of P-Noy?

How can I forget the Luneta hostage-taking incident where eight Hong Kong nationals were murdered? P-Noy had been in office for barely a month when this tragedy happened. Remember how he handled it. People in the streets were saying that he was near the area monitoring or commanding from a Chinese restaurant. Up to this day, he refuses to apologize to the Hong Kong government and to the victims of the family.

The white Porsche 911 Turbo was a machismo symbol the President purchased for himself in 2011. Wow! What a trip. After the government offices were told to practice austerity, the President makes such a frivolous move to the dismay of his aides. Well, I think five months after he had to let go of his toy.

I will remember his girlfriends and dates. What would you expect with the Philippine’s first bachelor president? Of course all the single ladies in the house tried to get his attention. And he used this part of his life to humor the public as well in his speaking sorties.

I will remember his victory over the Corona case in the Senate. How he worked hard in making sure Corona gets ousted. But with this were talks of bribery that came along with the persuasions for solons to vote for the impeachment.

I will remember how lost the President and his men looked during the aftermath of Yolanda. Foreign correspondent Anderson Cooper deplored the total absence of government in the rescue and relief operations while international organizations immediately went into action. When CNN chief international correspondent and news anchor Christian Amanpour asked Aquino whether he would allow the perceived state of paralysis to define his government for the rest of his term, he answered, he would not. But what happened next was complete inaction to help rebuild the lives of the people in Tacloban. By the way, what happened to his appointed rehabilitation czar?

I will remember how P-Noy ran the operations against the MNLF in Zamboanga City in 2013. He used around six thousand troops to contain some poorly armed fighters. As a result, the MNLF fighters were all killed and 10,000 civilian homes burned to the ground. Sanamagan! As far as the insurgency problem of the country is concerned, we have never seen such a one-sided operation that questioned the conduct of the military force.

Now, how can the Mamasapano incident escape our memory? To this day, no one wants to admit who gave the stand-down order that disabled our troops. At the end of the day, we felt betrayed with the President’s actions. How he indefatigably defended his friend amidst all the blames for the massacre of the 44 SAF. How he chose to give a toast for a new automotive factory while the country was mourning. The faces of the widows with their heads bowed down refusing to even look at him as he tried to console them posed a strong message he seemed to have completely ignored.

I will remember the President for the DAP that he created. My, how it became the biggest political scandal that has enraged the nation! And even if the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, he still believes otherwise. Susmariosep!

I will remember the misuse, misallocation of billions of public funds (our hard-earned tax money) from the PDAF, better known as the “pork barrel fund” distributed to senators and congressmen and Aquino’s own P1-trillion of unexamined and unaudited presidential “pork fund.”

I will always wonder what ever happened to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program (otherwise known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). Despite the growth of the nation’s economy, this program has failed to alleviate poverty. Where did the money go?

I will remember his fight to remove corruption but realized that he was only fighting his opponents and not punishing his corrupt allies. It is obvious that to P-Noy friendship comes first before the nation. Sad but true. So, his administration continues to cuddle and protect his friends rather than heeding the call of the citizens for them to resign.

I will remember him for the worst traffic in the metro; the worst commute (MRT); the worst floods; and the worst infrastructure efforts.

I will remember him for the K-12 program. This should have been a lasting legacy but he rushed it. He should have done a pilot run or studied it thoroughly because he is leaving office with the K-12 program hanging. His initiative will displace 13,000 teaching staff who will lose their jobs over a five-year period not to mention 11,000 non-teaching staff.

I will remember this President as the prime mover of the BBL. How can he give up a part of Mindanao just like that? This is betrayal of the country at its highest level. The BBL is not the solution to the Mindanao problem. The BBL is an abject surrender to the MILF. We all know that there can never be peace in this part of the archipelago until the moros lay down their arms.

These are very strong and vivid memories I have of President Benigno Aquino III.  I hope he makes a last ditch effort to see things through the eyes of the Filipino people. Time is no longer on his side. He must make that bold step to change the course of things and put order in the way things are done no matter what it takes. In doing so, he might have the chance to redeem himself and we may remember him for the good he has done for the country and the Filipino people.

Oh, Mr. President I pray that the Holy Spirit descends upon you today so that you will speak from your heart, guided by truth, justice and humility. Here is part of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, IF. I hope it inspires you..: If you can make one heap of all your winnings/ And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,/ And lose, and start again at your beginnings/ And never breathe a word about your loss. If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew/ To serve your turn long after they are gone/ And so hold on when there is nothing in you/ Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue/ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch. If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you / If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute / With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run; Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it… And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

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