There is something wrong with some of our country’s so-called “thinking” elite. They don’t use their heads sometimes. They are supposed to guide the members of the public down the right path but much of what they say makes any one with half a brain scratch their head in confusion and disbelief. It’s no wonder that there are Filipinos who have become skeptical about the opinions of our “thought leaders” or simply do not believe what they say anymore.
Take Solita Collas-Monsod, popularly known as Mareng Winnie. She is a Filipino TV program host, economist, professor, and writer. She is a formidable figure in Philippine broadcast media. As a popular (thanks to her TV exposure) economist, most Filipinos regard her fearless economic forecasts and candid political views very highly. Unfortunately, the fence sitting position she took during the campaign for the May 2010 presidential election regarding the then presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) was too disappointing to say the least.
Even before the official presidential campaign season kicked-off early this year, there was an email circulating around titled “Why I will vote for Noynoy by Winnie Monsod” which contained a lot of strong allegations of corruption against the other presidential candidate, Senator Manny Villar, who was P-Noy’s top contender in the race at that time. The letter was eventually exposed as a hoax because Monsod denied ever writing a letter endorsing a candidate. A fake letter like that, which served to damage Villar’s reputation can only come from a P-Noy handler, proves that P-Noy’s supporters are not above using dirty tactics just to win. But I digress…
Sadly, Monsod’s disownment of the letter was a little too late because a lot of voters were by then most likely already hooked into the perception that P-Noy was heavily endorsed by a leading economist of the country. This has a lot to do with the fact that even while she denied ever endorsing P-Noy, the voters never really heard her give a strong unbiased opinion about P-Noy’s capacity or incapacity to lead the country. As someone who once served in Cory’s administration, the only thing Monsod had to say about P-Noy in an interview with TIME Magazine before the election was, “Noynoy doesn’t have his father’s charisma, but he has his mother’s sincerity. Whether that’s enough, I don’t know.” Don’t you think that her statement was a bit lame and lacked conviction, considering her on-screen persona can be very feisty on her television show?
Anyway, her statement above is quite a contrast to what she is saying now about P-Noy in her latest article “Time for self-examination” published on the Inquirer.net. In the article, she admits that P-Noy has committed one too many gaffes in less than a hundred days in office. To quote:
ALL RIGHT, let’s face it. P-Noy’s administration has fumbled and bumbled and stumbled since Day 1: issuing orders that had to be revoked and or amended almost immediately (the one which would have crippled the bureaucracy, and which, alas, has still not been properly corrected); making the wrong conclusions about the government’s budget and cash situation; unreservedly touting “private-public partnerships” as the solution to the government’s resource scarcity problems; appointing people whose integrity and/or competence are questionable; doing a Gloria (the Cito Lorenzo-JocJoc Bolante case is almost identical to the Robredo-Puno situation in that the undersecretary was appointed before the secretary, and effectively shoved down the latter’s throat); and of course the latest series of blunders with regard to the hostage crisis.”
As someone who was close to the Aquino family and as someone who supposedly possesses above average thinking skills relative to the regular Juan, how could Monsod fail to recognise early hints of a likely failure in the leadership of P-Noy? More importantly, why didn’t she do her best to prevent P-Noy from winning the May 2010 presidential election (and have us see a better man in power under whose watch this sorry situation we are in could have been averted)? She is very influential after all (unfortunately). It could be a case of the all-too-familiar padrino system at work – criticize every body else specially those allied with former president Gloria Arroyo (GMA) but go easy on close friends.
Filipinos are quick to judge GMA on the basis of allegations of corruption even if none of it had been proven in court. But it is my opinion that the greatest lapses in judgment committed by most Filipinos in politics are brought about by their penchant for granting favors to their family and close friends. Perhaps, Monsod is not an exception to this rule.
In the same article, she justifies her role now as a (reluctant) critic of the Aquino government. She even goes on to divide P-Noy’s critics into two distinct groups: the unfriendlies and the friendlies. To quote:
Unfriendlies, including the political opposition, who point out the shortcomings (some very much imagined) with malicious glee in an attempt to prove that he was the wrong choice and to position themselves for the next elections. And the Friendlies, well-wishers and supporters who either have taken to heart his invitation for them to participate (they are his bosses), or who are anxious for him (and the country) to do well, and cannot count on getting through his cordon sanitaire who they feel are part of the problem rather than the solution.
I wonder if she can group GMA’s critics the same way? More importantly, why is there a need for her to come up with such a grouping? I’m sure she would like to be seen as being one of the “friendlies”; an attempt to reduce the likelihood of her falling out of favor with the Aquinos even as she turns up the heat or continue with her astute observation of P-Noy’s growing list of gaffes. As far as I’m concerned, a critic is a critic – full stop. Whether it is a genuine or misguided concern about the country that motivates people to speak out against a politician, at the end of the day, criticism will still be a hard-hitting assessment of someone’s work.
Her analysis about P-Noy’s critics is wrong. There is nothing malicious about pointing out that critics who warned voters about P-Noy’s incompetence during the campaign were right about him all along. Besides, everybody wishes P-Noy well, his critics in the “unfriendlies” camp included. There is nothing “imagined” about what P-Noy does to himself and the people who will be affected by his actions. In fact, it is P-Noy who keeps giving his critics all the material they need to continue criticizing him.
Why would anyone wish him ill anyway? To wish P-Noy ill is tantamount to saying that his critics wish all Filipinos ill. Her statements, in that regard, just don’t make any sense. I hope that she is smart enough to realize that none of us wished that a desperate ex-policeman would go berserk and hijack a bus load of tourists just to make P-Noy look like a fool.
There are many members in Philippine society who can be considered to be part of the “thinking” elite. They, it should be noted, belong to two distinct groups: The Delusionals, including majority of the country’s public officials who were elected just because they were popular; some members of the Media, and the technocrats. They all contribute to the dumbing down of the electorate with their irrational reasoning — like voting for “the chosen one” — which, unfortunately, makes perfect sense to the vacuous electorate. And then there are The Realists, including a few public officials, a few members of the Media and a few technocrats and professionals. They use their training and expertise to analyze situations in a more realistic fashion and make no further ado about nothing.
Unfortunately, it is not easy for the general public to distinguish between the two groups, so the public tends to regard The Delusionals as more credible because they so conveniently appeal to their emotions — much to the detriment of society.