More than one hundred days since the President’s star-studded inauguration and post-inaugural street party, the nation has witnessed perverted magic which is far more troubling than the delusions of the previous regime.
In his report on the first 100 days of his administration, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said the nation inherited many deep and widespread problems which are rooted in a government that is “deaf and blind” and one that makes its own version of truth. Seconds later, he would simply wish away that kind of government:
“Ang natamasa po natin ngayong unang isandaang araw ng ating panunungkulan: Mayroon na po kayong gobyernong hindi kayo binabalewala o inaapi [What we’ve achieved in the first 100 days of my administration: We now have a government that does not ignore or abuse you].”
It takes no less than dead bodies to dispute such grand assertion. Since Aquino rose to presidency, there have been 16 cases of extrajudicial killings and two victims of enforced disappearances according to human rights group Karapatan. The victims include Bayan Muna coordinator Fernando Baldomero, who was shot dead just four days after Aquino assumed the presidency.
Various groups have resoundingly called for the scrapping of the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), the Arroyo regime’s counterinsurgency program that targets activists. Yet Aquino instead announced the extension of the government’s counterinsurgency operations, ignoring not just the people’s call but also the recommendations stated in the Alston report.
New York-based Human Rights Watch in particular expressed dismay over Aquino’s first three months, saying his “failure to decisively address ongoing human rights abuses jeopardizes his stated commitment to justice.” One hundred days have passed and yet not a single one is prosecuted. Even the government’s avowed“superbody” to probe media killings is still a “nobody.”
The President simply wished away the callousness of his own regime, which was demonstrated on many counts by the violent dispersals of farmers peacefully camped out in Mendiola to demand genuine land reform. He swept under the rug the Sept. 23 demolition in Sitio San Roque in Quezon City, which would pave the way for the first public-private-partnership (PPP) project under his administration.
In August, President Aquino introduced a zero-based budget that ironically pushes for huge increases in his pork, intelligence funds, military spending and debt servicing, and budget cuts on public hospitals and state universities and colleges (SUCs) on the contrary. Despite the series of protests primarily from students, Aquino and his allies in Congress remain bent in approving the sorely dysfunctional budget.
More than one hundred days since PAG-ASA erred in its weather forecast for the June 30 inauguration, Aquino cited the improved weather forecasting. “Napansin n’yo po ba na hindi na paulit-ulit ang mga mensahe ng PAG-ASA? [Did you notice that PAG-ASA’s announcements aren’t repetitive anymore]” he asked in glee. One wonders if the sacking of Dr. Prisco Nilo from PAG-ASA has something to do with the improvement.
While Dr. Nilo was booted out, at least six ambassadors whose terms are co-terminus with that of former president Gloria Arroyo managed to retain their post despite the issuance of the revised Memorandum Circular No. 1 in July. The Department of Foreign Affairs’ list of ambassadors posted on its website (last updated Sept. 27, 2010) indicates that Antonio Villamor (Saudi Arabia), Rigoberto Tiglao (Greece), Acmad Omar (Oman), Domingo Siazon (Japan), Vidal Querol (Indonesia) and Generoso Senga (Iran) enjoy fresh terms under the new administration.
It’s a nightmare to see Arroyo mill around at the House of Representatives more than three months after she ended her grim nine-year presidency, and yet Aquino renders her simply as a punching bag for his public statements. It is troubling how Aquino tries to make the public forget Arroyo’s grave crimes by making it appear that his righteousness is enough to mend the wrongs of the past.
In a lame effort to make up for his regime’s failure to prosecute Arroyo and other responsible officials, Aquinoissued a blunt rhetoric: “Kayong mga mali ang palakad, ginagarantiya ko may taning kayong lahat [All of you involved in bad governance, I guarantee that your days are numbered].” Quite absurdly, the President was howling even if the 100-day period has already lapsed.
Perhaps Aquino should be credited for corrupting the executive branch in his first 100 days with brazen patronage as he built circles of friends, classmates and patrons inside the bureaucracy. He appointed at least three classmates (NFA general manager Chito Cruz, Pagcor chair Cristino Naguiat and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa) and three Abads. He also made some queer appointments, like placing a columnist/ PR man to the NFA and a fellow gun enthusiast to the Department of Interior and Local Government. In the eyes of the President, these appointments are in no way political paybacks.
One hundred days after the President’s star-studded inauguration and post-inaugural street party, the nation’s evils were reduced to “wang-wang” and corruption. “Change” was downsized to hotdog-for-lunch-at-the-street-corner. The most hated former president became a mere punching bag and the poor instantly became the “boss.”
And oh, Aquino’s 100-day report almost made me forget the Aug. 23 hostage incident.