Aquino’s wang-wang policy stemmed from martial law ‘scars’ — Almendras
MANILA, Philippines — One of the things that the late former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino would be remembered for the most was his policy against “wang-wang,” referring to the indiscriminate use of police sirens often as a symbol of abuse of power or privilege.
During the memorial for the late President at the Church of Gesù, former Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras tried to shed light on this landmark policy and which was also reflected in other policies of the second Aquino administration.
“Alam po ni PNoy what it felt to be helpless, to be powerless, what it felt to be ‘api’. But that did not make him a bitter person, no. Nung naging presidente sya, imbes na bawian nya ang mga taong nang api sa kanya, ano pong ginawa nya? Sinigurado nya na hindi aabusuhin ang kapangyarihan,” he said.
“Wang-wang was a representation of the abuse of power that you rightfully have. Hindi naman po ilegal na mag-wang wang kung talagang pulis ka o nasa pwesto ka, but ang punto po ni PNoy, hindi mo kailangang gawin ‘yan, ‘wag mong gawin ‘yan, kahit may kapangyarihan ka,” he added.
Almedras said Aquino’s aversion to using “wang-wang” may be traced back to his past experience during Martial Law when he feared getting caught during curfew, or people wanting to dissociate themselves from the son of a political detainee, then Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
“Nagkakilala po kami ni PNoy dahil sa isang party doon sa kasulok-sulukan ng Cavite. Bagong lipat po ako dito, di po kami magkaklase no’ng high school. No’ng uwian na, martial law, ‘yong nagdala sa kanya doon, biglang may ibang pupuntahan, wala siyang kasama pauwi, wala siyang sasabayan,” Almendras said during the memorial service for Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila.
“Bagong kilala ko pa lang siya, pareho po kaming tiga Quezon City, sabi ko kung gusto mo tayo na lang ang magsama, sabay na lang tayo umuwi. Siyempre hindi ho pwedeng mahuli si PNoy sa curfew, ‘di po ba, so timing talaga, sinigurado namin,” he added.
According to Almendras, Aquino had a safe haven in Ateneo during the martial law period — during which his father was imprisoned. At the same time though, Almendras revealed that relatives discouraged him from hanging out with Aquino.
It was also the reason, Almendras noted, why the former president took his time in deciding what kind of restaurant they would eat in — not because he was picky with food, but because of past experiences wherein they would be asked to hurry up so that police would not see Ninoy’s son staying in their place.
“Minsan po sabi niya, para tayong may ketong. Lumalayo ang mga tao dahil natatakot sila na masali sa atin. Karamihan po ng mga tao at kaibigan, alam nila, mapili raw si PNoy sa restaurant at sa pagkain. Malaking seremonyas ng desisyon […] Akala nila mapili sa pagkain si PNoy. Hindi po, iniilagan po namin ang sitwasyon na sasabin no’ng mga waiter, sir bilisan niyo na po, marami pong susunod,” he said.
During his stint in Malacañang, Almendras said Aquino tried to eradicate rampant abuse of power and corrupt practices, which would culminate in his campaign against the so-called pork barrel system, for which he would make a lot of political enemies.
Aquino would also be criticized for being devoid of emotion during times of national grief, such as his nonappearance during the arrival of the bodies of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were killed in combat in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
But such stiff, if not stoic, reaction from Aquino, Almendras explained, was because he was trying to avoid a situation where he would be forced to put on a show for the victims’ relatives.
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, Mamasapano. Sana daw niyakap ng presidente ‘yong isang namatayan. Hindi ho siya gano’n, hindi niya gagawin ‘yon para pakitang tao lang,” Almendras noted.
Almendras was one of Aquino’s closest allies and friends, revealing earlier that the former president had entrusted him to keep his medical condition a secret from the public.
On Thursday afternoon, it was confirmed by Aquino’s sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada that the former president died peacefully in his sleep, before being rushed to the Capitol Medical Center.
Aquino-Abellada said that the death certificate pronounced Noynoy dead at 6:30 a.m. due to renal disease, secondary to diabetes.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.