Edgardo J. Angara warned of strongman rule’s dangers
In one of his last public appearances before his death on Sunday, former Senate President Edgardo Angara warned of the pitfalls of strongman rule, saying the people would only accept a consultative leader.
“When we look at our next leader, we must judge him to be a very steady leader, a man who has his own conviction, a man who looks into the future rather than the past,” he told students of the National Defense College of the Philippines on April 27.
“Should it be a strongman? I don’t think that kind of a one-man, strongman rule is acceptable anymore. What the people can accept is a consultative leader,” said Angara, who was appointed special envoy to the European Union by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year.
The former president of the University of the Philippines succumbed to a heart attack on Sunday morning. He was 83.
In his talk, Angara said the Philippines may benefit under an authoritarian ruler similar to the late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew but the government must ensure that political power remained civilian in character.
“That [being consultative] doesn’t mean he will not decide, but he will decide on the basis of consultation. It cannot be a one-man rule. He must bring in different constituencies,” he said.
Angara did not point to the Presidentin his remarks about strongmen.
But when students asked him about his thoughts on the President during the open forum, he said: “My actual personal experience is he listens to sensible advice. The danger is when there’s no one who can tell his boss good, bad, or different.”
Before he died, Angara served as the bridge between the European Union and the Duterte administration, working to defuse tensions sparked by criticisms by European politicians of his brutal war on drugs, and the President’s caustic remarks against the bloc.
In his talk, Angara also revealed that the President had offered him the ambassadorship to the United Kingdom, but he declined as he did not want to be an obstacle to the careers of younger diplomats.
The President then asked him to be the permanent ambassador to the United States, he said.
Former Speaker Jose de Venecia, who came on the first day of the public viewing of Angara’s wake, described his peer as “one of the greatest Filipinos of our time.”
“We had formal diplomatic relations,” De Venecia joked when asked to describe the working relationship between the two of them when they still headed the legislature.
“Ed Angara was a brilliant lawyer, articulate but softspoken. He was also a successful executive, having worked as executive secretary [to Joseph Estrada],” De Venecia said.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos said today’s politicians would do well to learn Angara’s work ethic.
‘So many plans’
“He was not a total politician nor just an aggressive lawyer. He was a humanitarian,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, one of the last people who saw Angara before his demise in his Tagaytay City rest house, recalled the “very nice and pleasant” two hours they spent on Saturday, the day before Angara’s death.
Drilon and Angara celebrated the anniversary of ACCRA law offices over lunch.
“I kidded him because he still had so many plans. I told him, ‘You know Ed, you should live to 183 years, because you’re 83 now’,” Drilon said.
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.