Being realistic is a good trait. One of the upsides of being realistic is that you do not get disappointed with the result or at least have a Plan B prepared in case things do not go according to Plan A. You won’t get disappointed with the result because you will have predicted the likely consequences of your actions by using your logic, and will do your best to prevent a negative effect from happening or take another course of action to soften the blow of a disaster. If we are to be realistic about Noynoy Aquino’s first 100 days, the likely scenario we are looking at is one of predictable ordinariness bordering on disorganization even.
One of the reasons why I think Noynoy’s first 100 days will be disorganised is because recent events have shown that Noynoy has a tendency to choose his battles unwisely (i.e., who’s going to swear him in, to receive GMA’s call or not, etcetera, etcetera). He also has a tendency to make a lot of excuses for not accomplishing a task that he hasn’t even started doing yet. This guy did not have plans of running for the presidency in the first place; it would be delusional to expect him to have concrete plans around running the country now.
Another reason to expect a bit of chaos lies in how we don’t know if he is going to work well with his elected Vice President. Unfortunately, the position of Vice President in the Philippines is chosen by the voters separately in contrast to countries like the United States where the President and Vice President come as a team. It would be interesting to watch how the policies or decisions of President-Elect Noynoy will be taken in by a much older and more experienced politician like Jejomar Binay.
Noynoy hasn’t even spoken to Binay yet let alone thought about what post to give him. Reports have him dismissing Binay’s thoughts of assuming the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) post saying “I’ve not talked to him” and asserting his right to choose his cabinet with his statement, “And I think I should be accorded the right to choose who I want to serve as my alter-ego. ‘Yun naman ang description ng alter-ego [That's the description of alter-ego].” You would think that he would have a clear definition of what his alter-ego would do by now considering he was adamant about getting the job.
Once a slacker, always a slacker
Noynoy Aquino was so confident that he would win the presidency to the point of boldly stating during the campaign period that he will take to the streets if he lost. Despite this confidence, he did not even bother to choose his cabinet members earlier. With just a few weeks before his proclamation, the media is left speculating about who is going to get what job under his government. One wonders what Noynoy was busy with after all these months when in fact, he wasn’t even very active in presidential debates or any other forums during the campaign period.
Noynoy seems to be eyeing a lot of celebrities to fill government posts. It’s not that there is anything wrong with celebrities, but we all know that they spend more time in front of the camera than on anything else. First it was reported that Noynoy offered talk show host and Aquino friend, Boy Abunda a cabinet post saying that Abunda is “…an icon in the country and even more so for his ability to communicate, to understand the audience and to be able to advance a particular set of ideas.” Noynoy probably thinks that just because someone regularly appears on national television necessarily makes that person an icon. It did not matter to him that Boy Abunda does not have experience in the public sector and that Boy did not even show any interest in occupying any government post. Then there are also reports that Noynoy wants to offer Ding Dong Dantes, Ogie Alcasid, Lilly Monteverde and Jim Paredes other government posts.
It is obvious that Noynoy already failed this early to heed the advice of the country’s much revered scholar F Sionil Jose to “Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them..” The questions we need to ask are: Is Noynoy even aware of who is the best candidate for any of the government posts? Another question is, is he really eyeing them on the basis of convenience or is someone (like Kris Aquino) recommending all of the people for him (which is also convenient for Noynoy). A third question is, what criteria does Noynoy really apply when choosing a cabinet member? Is it the person’s popularity (like in his case) or ability and experience? One wonders why Noynoy does not listen to a leading academic instead of his celebrity endorsers, is President elect Noynoy Aquino anti-intellectual?
He does not even need to replace people who are not doing badly with their jobs at the moment. But he might just feel compelled to replace them out of spite for Arroyo’s administration. The fact that he chooses people who don’t have any knowledge about government policies should already tell us that Noynoy’s administration is going to be one big song and dance routine and nothing of substance.
Too many excuses
You have to hand it to Noynoy, he is good at making excuses. He made so many unrealistic promises during his campaign that so many vacuous Filipinos now believe it is doable. One of them is that that he can eradicate poverty just by getting rid of corruption. But now he is saying things like “I wish the people would give us time. We cannot fix problems acquired over decades overnight” and “I will not proclaim I know everything because I still do not know the true state of the country.” Doesn’t he realise that his late mother is included among the people who acquired problems “over decades”?
The above are statements he recently made over just a period of two days to reporters. These are not very optimistic words coming from a man who is about to be sworn in. We can’t blame Noynoy for being pessimistic now because he did not really come up with concrete proposals as solutions to pressing issues, like policy changes that will see to it that the “problems acquired over the decades” will be solved. All he and his party came up with during the campaign period are motherhood statements that do not translate into much, but which romanticist voters believed in.
He said that not knowing the real numbers would make it harder to come up with solutions. This is in response to the economic data that outgoing President Gloria Arroyo recently released which Noynoy says was tweaked in order to look good. How hard can it be for Noynoy to consult an economist so he could come up with comparative figures? This sounds to me like another silly excuse coming from a person who already feels daunted by the job ahead.
Build a house on rock and not on sand
We all know that if Noynoy’s mother did not pass away, he would not have been voted in as President in the first place. Knowing this, we also know that Noynoy did not win based on an idea. He won based on a people’s mass indulgence in emotion. He basically built his house on sand, which can crumble anytime. What he needs to do is to reinforce the foundation of his house by using rocks and pour in as much concrete as needed. The fate of his legacy will be determined by the way he tweaks the foreign and domestic policies of the country. He needs to find out which of the existing policies are working or need to be changed. Unfortunately, he will have to work with Congress in getting any new policies the nod. It’s all up to Noynoy — whether his first 100 days will be an indication of the next six years turning into a trip down the highway to hell or up the stairway to heaven.
Being realistic is a good trait. It is a hedge that equips us with some idea of what to do if it turns out that our new President cannot handle the pressure of his new job. Being realistic will also give us an idea of what to do when the bubble finally bursts. We should all be ready to duck for cover to avoid the splash.