Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III is running for President. The current news stream of his “weighing the decision” and “seeking the support of the people” should not fool anyone, nor should the “discussions” within the Liberal Party about his candidacy. Those of us who are experienced in marketing can recognise “buzz generation” when we see it, and as for the conundrum he has presented the Liberal Party, which until recently was fairly well-organised behind a Mar Roxas candidacy, they appear to have two unpalatable choices: Either to roll over and accept a lesser but more-popular candidate, or see one of their senior and most-recognisable members openly compete with their party’s standard-bearer as an independent.
Aquino’s carefully-calculated ambiguity is necessary because he made a slight tactical error in not announcing his candidacy immediately after his mother’s death. The news cycle and the public attention span are not long enough to maintain the necessary level of enthusiasm to wait for him to observe his family’s period of mourning and settling the matter with the LP to make his announcement, so having not seized the moment, he has to keep everyone interested long enough to get those things out of the way. But at this point, announcing his candidacy is just a formality; for all intents and purposes, he is already running.
That being the case, we can begin to subject the Aquino platform to objective scrutiny. This is published on his website under the tab “platform”. While these particular points were offered as his “platform” for his Senate candidacy, Senators are nationally-elected and so must offer platforms of national relevance; thus pending an update or expansion of his positions (which the Senator is cordially invited to do here), his published Senatorial platform can be considered his Presidential platform. The following is what Senator Aquino has to offer, in its entirety:
“I am determined to continue the fight started by my father and my mother to see that democracy takes root and is strengthened in our country. This cannot happen in a government that serves the interest of the powerful few. We must strengthen the institutions of government so that they truly serve the interests of our people.”
In the light of attempts to weaken our democracy, I therefore stand to;
1. Strengthen the Senate as an independent branch of government;
2. Continue to hold government to account for its excesses and misgovernance;
3. Resist Charter Change if done to serve the selfish interests of the few and if the process circumvents that prescribed by the constitution;
4. Oppose all attempts to impose a repressive government, and more importantly; and
5. Be the voice of the powerless and the oppressed, those who do not have access to our government and are, thus, victims of injustice.
The first point can be ignored since this a presidential election, but none of the others are worth much attention, either. Consider what defines an effective platform:
- Statement of problems or issues to be addressed.
- Statement of solutions or objectives to address the problems or issues.
- Rationale for choosing those solutions or objectives.
Aquino states that “attempts to weaken our democracy,” “government excesses and misgovernance,” “attempts to impose a repressive government,” and “lack of access of the powerless and the oppressed” are the problems he wishes to address. This is simply grim rhetoric in search of definitions or examples, not a valid statement of the problems or issues. Likewise his plan of action is devoid of, well, action – instead, Aquino vows to “continue to hold government to account,” “oppose attempts to impose a repressive government,” and “be the voice of” a certain vaguely-defined constituency. And why will he pursue these meaningless “objectives?” Who knows? Aquino doesn’t trouble himself or the electorate with a rationale.
Hopefully, Senator Aquino provides the electorate, who, after all, are his prospective employers, with better insights as to why they should consider him for the most important job in the country. But so far, even this guy seems to have a better platform than Noynoy: