A tribute and an apology to PNoy

THE CORNER ORACLE - Andrew J. Masigan - The Philippine Star

It’s been a week since PNoy’s passing and I am still grieving. I am also overcome by guilt. Last April, I intended to write a tribute to PNoy not only to remind the public of his many achievements but also to extend my apologies. See, I made an error in judgement back in 2009 that caused a rift between PNoy, the Aquino family and myself. Although the family has been so magnanimous as to still be friendly towards me, I know that I hurt them. For that I feel enormous regret.

My family has always been close friends with the Aquino clan. My mother-in-law, Deedee Siytangco, was part of Tita Cory’s Cabinet and later on became her spokesperson and bosom buddy. My wife and I also have the privilege of counting Tita Cory as our matrimonial godmother.

When senator Noynoy announced that he was running for president, I dropped everything to help his campaign. I knew that Noynoy was the only candidate with the moral compass to reverse the culture of corruption that was out of control at that time. He was a diligent, hard worker who had no other agenda but to serve.

I got involved in the various activities of the Liberal Party until party godfather, Senator Frank Drilon, asked me to head the campaign headquarters along with Julia Abad. It was a great privilege which I accepted, no questions asked.

The news that I had been given the assignment spread among the Liberals. One party member was not so happy since, evidently, he wanted the post for himself. A lot of political jockeying ensued – suffice to say that I was asked to vacate the post and remain below the radar.

Being fired and asked to stand down after extending my full commitment was hurtful, I admit.  At first, I grumbled about the injustice of it all. It took me a while but I later understood that it is all politics and such is the way the cookie crumbles. I hold no grudges.

I remained politically ambivalent until I was asked to help in the presidential campaign of Gilbert Teodoro. I have always admired Gibo for his intelligence, integrity and body of work – so I accepted. But being the alpha-male that I am, I went full throttle in my efforts to help Gibo win. Carelessly, I said things that undermined PNoy’s intentions – and I know my words hurt the family. It was stupid and reckless of me, but I was still smarting. The regret stings like acid today.

PNoy eventually won and proved himself one of the country’s best Chief Executives. As an economist and columnist, I recognized the good work and was happy to report it to the public.   I even served in the Department of Science and Technology. When we would see each other, PNoy was so generous as to pretend that nothing happened. However, there was no denying the cold rift. We never got a chance to talk about that ugly incident and put closure to it.

The tribute I intended to write for PNoy would have included an explanation of my side (the circumstances of which I am sure he was not aware), a heartfelt apology and a brotherly hug through my words. But alas, my piece didn’t make it on time. My only hope is that PNoy reads this piece from above.

As I sit here writing this account, my heart explodes with gratitude for what PNoy had done for our country.

Much has already been written about PNoy’s achievements, especially in the realms of the economy and his fight against China’s territorial grab. Let me add ten more accomplishments that may not have been highlighted yet.

PNoy never gave in to populism nor did he bend to the will of special interest groups in the formulation of policies. He worked for the greater good of the greater majority.

He was a servant leader who never felt entitled. Neither did he allow his family or co-colleagues to have special privileges. In our roads, we were all equal, with wang-wang banned. In queues for government permits, Juan de la Cruz was equal with members of the Aquino family.

PNoy understood the importance of economic competitiveness and established the National Competitiveness Council to accelerate the country’s improvement. As a result, the country rose in competitiveness by a massive 38 notches, from 85th to 47th place, as determined by the World Economic Forum. Great improvements were also realized in other development indices.

PNoy ushered in the revival of the manufacturing sector. He initiated the Manufacturing Resurgence Program in 2013 and developed industry roadmaps to elevate certain industries to a level of global competitiveness. For the first time in decades, the growth of the manufacturing sector outpaced the growth of services in 2014. It happened again in 2017 but has deteriorated since then.

PNoy took pains in going abroad to tell the world that the Philippines was back in business and that democracy was alive and well. These trips yielded an avalanche of goodwill and investments.

PNoy understood the value of soft power and country branding. He never said or did anything to embarrass the country. Rather, he made it a point to portray the country in its best light.

PNoy gave due attention to disaster preparedness. At the DOST, project NOAH was realized and Phivolcs was empowered with modern equipment. He also formed the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

PNoy tripled the budget for education, health care and social welfare. He championed the K-12 program to arrest our declining educational standards.

PNoy’s conditional cash transfers program benefitted 7.7 million people and was regarded by the World Bank as the largest and best managed program of its type in the world.

PNoy planted the seeds for infrastructure development and re-arming the armed forces. Although most of the programs were not finished during his term, he left enough money in our treasury to allow Mr. Duterte to go on an infrastructure spending spree.

PNoy has contributed so much more to nation building which space prevents me from citing. Suffice it to say that he has demonstrated that good governance and servant leadership is the most effective way to build a nation.  May our next president share PNoy’s values.

I trust that PNoy sees my regretful heart for that incident back in 2009 and may we have that hug up there when the day comes.

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Email: andrew_rs6@yahoo.com. Follow him on Facebook @Andrew J. Masigan

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