Noynoy still doesn't get it
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Noynoy Aquino is not going to attend President Duterte's State of the Nation Address on Monday. He has never attended a SONA of his successor since leaving office in 2016. He would rather watch the proceedings on TV, he said, as if it mattered at all that he does or not.

Three years into unproductive retirement, Noynoy still doesn't get it. It is not about you, Noy. Nobody really cares whether or not you show up anywhere. It is about who you once were. It is about the office it was the great misfortune of the Philippines to have you once hold.

You are a former president, Noy, and that is the only reason why year after year, without fail, an invitation has to be sent to you requesting the honor of your presence. It is all about courtesy. It is all about protocol. It has nothing to do at all with you as a person. If that woman in red who keeps popping up everywhere had been a president, she too would have been invited.

I hope Noynoy is not scared of Duterte, which is why he is not attending, because otherwise he seems so brave when attacking the president from afar, or through surrogates. Never having even once given Duterte a chance, one would have thought he was man enough to be in the special seats reserved for those who, in his own time, honored his invitations.

Now, Duterte may have once smirked at a critic at a prior SONA, an act caught and repeated over and over on TV. But the critic was a lower echelon functionary. And the smirk was clearly more in jest than a real dagger meant to harm or shame. The old fart, born and bred in the province, can be as gallant as he can be brusque.

If Noynoy is afraid of a Duterte snipe, then let it be a test of his smarts and his wits. A great statesman with experience strutting on the world stage never fears walking into the lion's den. Great politicians love the challenge of a public confrontasi. Wiggling out of a tough situation is the stuff which leaders, past or present, are made of.

For Noynoy to snub a function that only a few selected mortals like himself can grace is the height of pettiness and pique. But then, what can anyone really do when he just doesn't get it. It is completely lost to Noynoy that the entire hooplah is in fact so much better off without his presence, that his presence might actually be more of an irritant than a real pleasure.

But there are matters of courtesy, respect, and tradition that ought to be observed, even by politicians. There is a time to grin and bear it, to smile even if it hurts, or shake a hand even if it is limp and cold. There are rituals of pomp and office that are far bigger than the men who hold them. And Noynoy would rather watch it on TV.

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