People elected a ‘big mistake,’ says Lagman
The people made “a big mistake” in electing President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said on Wednesday.
But while the people expect the economy and confidence in the government to deteriorate for the rest of the President’s term, they will not be sufficiently dissatisfied to oust him, Lagman said in a press conference at the House of Representatives.
“I would not want to be a prophet of doom or purveyor of the downfall of this administration. If you consider the containment of the military and the patience of the Filipino people, it would take more than five years for them to make a radical uprising. By that time we will be in a great abyss,” the lawmaker said.
According to Lagman, “the people should be prepared to expect the worst because their mistaken choice is the big problem.”
“Blunder begets disaster,” he said. “It’s a big mistake. You see now that the people really committed that blunder. The economy is in bad shape. The President failed to deliver on his promises. Governance is really in bad shape. Corruption went up under his watch.”
Lagman also said voters expected too much from Mr. Aquino because his slogans and promises during the election campaign “concealed and overshadowed his inadequacies.”
“Who should have been elected? Most probably, anybody else but the incumbent, and one more who has been adjudged by the court as having committed a serious offense against the republic,” Lagman said, referring to ousted President Joseph Estrada, a plunder convict who got the second biggest number of votes in the May 2010 presidential election.
Lagman said that “despite the President’s allergy to bad news, he must be made aware repeatedly that virtually all principal economic and social indicators are down, just like his plunging popularity and trust ratings.”
The lawmaker also noted that Mr. Aquino “gloats over artificial savings and cash surpluses, [but] forced savings are like drugs locked up in a medicine cabinet while an epidemic rages.”
Failing grade of 5
In a media forum at Aloha Hotel in Ermita, Manila, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz and Terry Ridon of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) gave the President a failing grade of 5 in his first year in office.
“We have been like this before. We are still the same,” Cruz said in Filipino, adding that there had been no substantial change in the country’s economic situation despite the change in leadership.
“In the past, the Philippines was second only to Japan. But if Fourth World countries exist, then we could be one of them,” he said in jest.
Cruz said democracy and poverty could not “go hand in hand.”
“How can [a country] be free if [its people] have nothing to eat? How can [a country] be free if its people do not have shelters to stay in?” he said.
Asked what could be the possible solutions to these problems, Cruz mentioned three elements of effective leadership—integrity, competence and diligence.
Unfortunately, he said, none of the present and past two administrations had all three: Mr. Aquino’s had integrity but not competence and diligence; Joseph Estrada’s had diligence but not competence and integrity; and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s had competence and diligence but not integrity.
The LFS’ Ridon cited rising tuition and Mr. Aquino’s purported failure to address the crisis in education as some of the reasons a large portion of the youth sector lost confidence in his leadership.
Ridon questioned Mr. Aquino’s alleged inaction and called on him to present a clear agenda and solutions to the problems confronting the country.
The Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND) announced a plan to walk out of classes on Thursday and hold a protest rally to mark the President’s first year in office.
“We will join students from other schools and universities to stage a walkout and go to Mendiola [in Manila] to dramatize our frustration,” a student leader said in a forum sponsored by STAND at the Claro M. Recto Hall at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) is part of the student walkout.
STAND mentioned the cut in the budgets of state universities and colleges, continued rise in the prices of basic goods, fare hikes but no wage increase, demolition of urban poor houses, extrajudicial killings, unemployment, and the issue of Hacienda Luisita as among the reasons Mr. Aquino was getting a failing mark (“singko”) for his performance in his first year in office.
“The grace period is over. We waited and we were frustrated. Hence we have no qualms in proclaiming our verdict. Aquino’s first year failed to live up to his promise of social change,” another student leader said.
STAND head RG Tesa said the President’s followers should look beyond their being members of the “yellow fever” and give him their rightful assessment.
“We should look at how we are governed. Enough with who to woo … It’s time to work,” Tesa said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He said Mr. Aquino had not delivered change for the better: “This assessment is crucial then, for we cannot be silent and passive about how our leaders rule the land. This is a grave sin to be committed in a time that warrants our participation in genuine social change.”
The students also said “[Mr. Aquino’s] posturing as a man of the masses—using Filipino in his speeches, his famous ban on the use of wangwang (siren)—crumble in the face of his economic policies and maneuvers.”
“His inaction [on Hacienda Luisita] betrays his shallow understanding of the problems of the Philippines as an agricultural country,” they said.
They noted “signs of weak leadership” in critical incidents that tested the Aquino administration in its first year: the hostage crisis in August, problems concerning migrant workers in conflict areas in the Middle East and, most recently, flooding in Mindanao.
“The Aquino administration’s policies and programs showed the outright [failure] on the part of the state to provide for people’s welfare,” said NUSP secretary general Vanessa Faye Bolibol.
She said students were “very disappointed” at how the administration had so far fared.
Gemimah Garcia, University Student Council chair at UP Diliman said: “We have seen enough and what we have seen appalls us. But instead of listening to demands of the people, the Aquino administration continues to feed us with empty statements and band-aid solution. Puro papogi na lang ang kayang gawin (All he is capable of is posturing).” Reports from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Maricris Irene V. Tamolang, Nancy C. Carvajal and Tarra Quismundo
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