PNoy’s legacy

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

A friend introduced me to the stock market through an online stock brokerage firm in 2012. Those were good times for ordinary stockholders like me, particularly the years 2012 to 2016. An average 12% rate of return for one’s stocks at the end each year was not bad.

Sometimes one got 20% rate of return on a blue chip stock. A blue chip is investment jargon applied to known companies that have long and steady, yet modest, record of profit growth. It is the stock equivalent of a dull boyfriend who is husband material. They are not supposed to excite you. But those were good times I said; the returns from blue chips exceeded expectations.

It is on that note that I remember most the administration of Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III (2010-2016). President Noynoy or PNoy died on Thursday at the age of 61 due to renal failure secondary to diabetes.

In the world of petty bourgeoisie politics, PNoy’s administration was successful on two counts; firstly, from the economic point of view as I illustrated earlier; secondly, from an institutional point of view, his ‘Daang Matuwid’ principle brought back hope for clean and efficient governance which was severely eroded during the Erap and GMA administrations.

PNoy was a wounded leader, in that one can sense the visible and invisible scars in him left by his family’s political and personal trials. Literally, a bullet was still embedded in his neck, one of five that struck him when rebel soldiers tried to attack Malacañang during the 1987 coup attempt against his mother, Cory. At the age of 12, he lost his father, Ninoy, to prison, and later at age 23, to an assassin’s bullet.

Those deep personal and political scars served PNoy well, I surmise. He became a principled and decent man, aloof to power yet conscious of its enormous responsibilities.

Power players who hated PNoy could not quite make sense of, to borrow the eloquent words of Foreign Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, his being ‘sea-green incorruptible’. The dictionary defines ‘sea-green incorruptible’ as “one utterly, disinterestedly, and rigidly devoted to some ideal or objective especially in the world of political thought or action.”

Indeed, PNoy’s cold indifference to political backslapping an old-boys’ club accommodation irritated those who were sidelined by his rise to power. Traditional politicians could not quite get why he was so different from them and indifferent to them. He was a person of unquestionable integrity, a straight arrow, a killjoy. His haters could hardly measure up to such standards.

His critics had repeatedly asked: What did he do to deserve the presidency? Yet he left office with a strong economy and high popularity ratings, despite having been marred with controversies on the Mamasapano massacre and the unwarranted Dengvaxia hysteria.

At the end of his term, it was not what he did that mattered more to a grateful nation. He left many unfinished big-ticket PPP or BOT projects that were continued to this day or inaugurated by the current administration.

People, instead, remember him more for what he didn’t do. He did not enrich himself in office. He did not sell us to China. He did not advocate mass extrajudicial violence, or inspired a spree of murders. He did not take criticisms personally, or at least did not threaten those who were unfair to him. There was not a chill down the spine of journalists who struck at him with words, whether above or below the belt. He didn’t have to bargain for political support with juicy propositions.

His biggest contribution to our nation’s constitutional democracy is his good example in not holding on to power, and his sense of decency inside and outside of it. He followed in the footsteps of his late mother, democracy icon Cory Aquino.

The Aquino family’s legacy makes it difficult for wannabe tyrants, dictators, or authoritarians to impose their own lasting brand in Philippine politics. The moral compass drawn by the Aquinos has permeated the culture of our democratic institutions including the military.

Our people may have flirted with populism from time to time. Yet there is that unbreakable bond that ties them to the Aquino legacy. At critical junctures in our history, the people always held and will hold on to that bond. Proof of that is that no leader post-EDSA has yet emerged as being trusted enough by the people to change the 1987 Constitution which was penned under the watch of an Aquino.

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