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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Don’t kid yourselves. Dynasties won’t vanish.

The Freeman

Guess where the loudest applause came when President Aquino called for an end to political dynasties in his State of the Nation Address last Monday? Why, from the members of both houses of Congress themselves, sitting in joint session for the purpose. Judging by the loudness of the applause, one would think the call was the greatest thrill of their lives.

Now guess where the second loudest applause came? Why, from the gallery, of course, where were seated the families of congressmen and senators. Judging by the loudness of the applause, one would also think it was the greatest thrill of their privileged lives. Now, do you know why they were all in such a happy mood when the president made the call? Because all of them, Aquino included, know nothing will come of the call. They might as well have been winking at one another.

At the cusp of an election year, with his Liberal Party still not comfortable with its presumed presidential bet, Aquino is not about to antagonize anyone with local fiefdoms that can help deliver every crucial vote needed to make his weak candidate win. That is if he really meant what he said. If he didn't really mean it and was just playing to the gallery, well, no harm done really. Nobody expected otherwise.

It was a call that was quite easy to make, not just by Aquino, but any president for that matter on the homestretch of his term. Indeed, Aquino could have promised everyone the moon, the stars, and even the contentious Freedom of Information bill that he has shelved and forgotten long after he promised it at the start. From experience, we all know any promise made this late in the game is not expected to be realized by the time any president bows out of office.

Any promise made at this point is up for the next president to fulfill, if he or she does not scuttle it altogether. Yet, having made the promise, he can claim having started the process, and if it succeeds, he can always claim that part of the credit should be his. If nothing happens, he can still claim he did start the ball rolling but, unfortunately, he has no control over his successor.

But Aquino probably realized people were more interested in the public accountability promised by the FOI than the anti-dynasty bill. Filipinos may have grown tired of seeing the same old faces and their families, but they are not too tired to lose their common sense. Filipinos are among the most pragmatic people on earth. In a choice between FOI and political dynasties, Filipinos know they can live with the latter, as indeed they have lived with dynasties since forever.

As a Filipino, Aquino knows that too. It was therefore easier to bring up the anti-dynasty bill in his SONA than the FOI. And look what happened. Everyone in the Batasan praised him for being the first president to have the guts to grapple with the political dynasty issue. But back to the original question -- who applauded the loudest? If you answered the political dynasties themselves, then congratulations, you will go far in the world.

APPLAUSE

AQUINO

BATASAN

BUT AQUINO

CALL

DYNASTIES

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

LIBERAL PARTY

PRESIDENT

PRESIDENT AQUINO

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

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