“Presidential” candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III yesterday (21st of January 2010) gave a speech before the esteemed captains of Philippine industry who interbreed and whack golf balls with one another when they are not schmoozing over cocktails at Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, and Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines meetings.
The content of the speech is there. But it is long and unstructured (hopping from one issue to another and going from solution mode to problem statement and then back again in an incoherent ramble) which makes it difficult for most casual listeners and, now, readers to evaluate it for quality and consistency. So over the rest of this article I will do a Dolby on Noynoy’s speech, and enhance the substance in it while filtering out the noise enveloping it.
But first some definition of terms as far as this exercise is concerned:
Substance – information on concepts that are relevant to the goals expected of the President of the Philippines that are stated in a categorical manner. These include (1) descriptions and assertions of our current state, (2) a statement describing the imperatives given the assertions in Item 1, and (3) specific approaches to applying the imperatives referred to in Item 2.
Noise – information described in banalities meant to elicit emotional responses but beyond which do not imply any particular position on any debatable issue nor describe any discernible approach or roadmap to guide our march into the future as a people.
Having gotten the above housekeeping out of the way, we can now get on with it.
Noynoy’s speech presents some clear hypotheses as to what the main challenges of the country are and, presumably, what he will be focusing on as President, thus:
What needs to be changed
– Damage to institutions “wrought” by the manipulations of selfish people.
– A “situation” Filipinos are subject to that is characterised by suffering resulting from “years of neglect” because of a “self-absorbed leadership obsessed with political survival”
The above two imply that Filipinos are poor as a direct result of bad leadership. Therefore it should follow that implementing “good” leadership will result in prosperity for the poor. So let us see if the rest of Noynoy’s speech describes a convincing logical link between (1) bad leadership and the current wretchedness of the Philippines and (2) good leadership and the foreseen reversal of fortunes we can suppsedly expect to see after 2010 under the second Aquino presidency.
Noynoy goes on to cite some imperatives.
What the priority imperatives are
– “Opportunity” and the “means” for the youth to “improve” their “lot in life”
– A lack of “commitment” in government to a “transformation” from a predominantly poor to a predominantly middle class society.
To the first of the above, Noynoy cites a few factoids that allude to “500 factual errors” in a textbook series issued by government contractors and the college graduation rates in the education system. Yeah, the words So what? crossed my mind too. But even more bizarrely, Noynoy abruptly jumps from that useless exercise of citing ho-hum statistics to the issue of Government’s lack of “transformation” commitment. And then he goes on to make another breathtaking logical leap into the assertion involving some kind of bizarre failure on Government’s part to make a “conceptual” leap from “patronage” to “development”. I wonder what all that means? How exactly does a government “conceptually” leap from patronage to development?
But there’s more! In quoting a lady’s blunt observation during his 1998 “campaign for office”, Noynoy implied another imperative:
– Ensure that the presidency is relevant to the average poor Pinoy sod’s fortunes.
Unfortunately he then changes the channels midway through that thought to go into a naked pitch for his bid for the presidency and why his lack of having done anything as a legislator is of no consequence when considering that pitch (indeed he is an obedient little boy to his handlers). Teka muna so how exactly does the poor lady’s lament suddenly segue into an appeal for the vote? So much for that imperative. Noynoy makes no further reference to it as he proceeds with the rest of his speech.
He goes on to mention a hodgepodge of news-making (and googleable) keywords hopping first onto the Chief Justice appointment “controversy”, then onto “intelligence funds”, then the Hello Garci thingamajig, the NBN-ZTE doodad, and the fertiliser “scam”. I suppose this is the part where Noynoy dashes into a telephone booth and emerges in his blue tights and red cape to fight for truth, justice, and the American way. Good luck with that. I think the only “American Way” Pinoys took to heart comes from that famous boulevard in Los Angeles.
So much for imperatives. But to be fair to Noynoy, he does move along. Move along to the hardcore platitudes, that is.
What must be done
– Lead transformation by not being part of the problem
– Give “our people” a “fighting chance” to “rebuild damaged institutions”
– Level the playing field and then “encourage” free and fair competition
– “Foster” service to the public instead of making people “jump through hoops” (wow!)
– Change the current “approach” to “power” and “governance” (that is Noynoy’s and his party’s “core belief” by the way. Yikes.)
– Find “a unity” that transcends the “divisions” of today (I suppose where there are divisions, one does need to find unity…)
What can I say? Not much to be honest, considering there is not much to work with above. So, we may as well go into what, to be fair to Noynoy, constitute some of the detail around the approach he plans to take to realise the above musts:
How things will be done
– Reduce taxes (you can almost hear the shuffle of tsinelas-clad feet as voters scramble to tick Noynoy’s name on their ballots on this one…)
– Transform infrastructure agencies and LGUs into “cooperative ventures” with the private sector by bringing forth an “agreed” infrastructure program based on a “cohesive plan” that “optimizes” the “value” of the entire network (ok, I think Noynoy should be an Accenture consultant instead…)
– ! bonk !
That last item was the sound of me hitting the bottom of the page as I tried to scroll further down after foolishly thinking there was more to read.
What I did read somewhere was that Noynoy was actually given a standing ovation by the supposedly well-heeled and well-educated members of the Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines. Now that was what was truly disturbing.