The Drop

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Federico Pascual of The Philippine STAR described it as “political pneumonia:” the double-digit drop of President Aquino’s ratings should be disturbing not only for the Cabinet, but for the President himself.  What worries Ernie Maceda, on the other hand, is that his officials may be taking this too lightly.  Which is in more ways than one a big mistake: “clearing the landmines” of the previous administration is one thing, but perception makes up a good part of political reality.

I wrote to a friend that P-Noy may end up going down in history as the most polarizing President we ever had.  It’s more than a “to-whom-much-is-given-much-is-expected” thing: it’s an Administration that came into power setting the bar to heights that were polarizing, and one that sought to polarize the wrongdoings of the previous Administration and frame it under the rubric of “evil.”  If this Administration is to be believed, its past 365 days have been involved – completely – in the arduous process of cleaning up the ravages of Arroyo.

The problem is that P-Noy’s administration is confronted with problems that are unique to its six years, with most of its actions – and inactions – proving costly not only to the national interest, but also to public confidence.  In the quest to correct the errors of Gloria, the Aquino administration also pulled itself into enough gaffes and mistakes that involved everything from handling a hostage crisis, to taking care of national patrimony.   For the past year, that’s what we have.  While the administration should be fairly lauded and applauded for making things right, it should be fairly criticized and castigated for things it does wrong.  Most of the time, it is in the latter where the functions of a political process is highlighted: it is here where the Aquino administration is lacking.  We laud the “Daang Matuwid” and all, but should a drop in public confidence be a necessary part of it?

Not that Arroyo’s errors shouldn’t be rectified and the criminals of the previous Administration should not be brought to justice, but to do that at the expense of moving forward (deliberately or by consequence) is something that requires a lot more thought.

The danger lies in the Administration reflecting Gloriaesque reactions to a survey: that is, to dismiss the diagnostic functions of a survey to “inadequately represent public sentiment.”  While it doesn’t, the President should be aware that part of the job of being a popular President in a popular democracy is to be – and to remain – popular; that is, while he may not be expected to make popular decisions all the time, the confidence of the people should always be on his side.  Not because a mandate is something that’s renewed during election time, but because it is renewed all the time.  This Presidency exists not to solely and exclusively rectify errors of the past, but to move forward.

And that’s part and parcel of the difficulty of the task for Aquino, who has, on a number of occasions, complained about how difficult the job of a President is.  Of course it should: had he been at the forefront of the roadmap to progress instead of being incidental to it by virtue of his position, no one would ever ask him an annoying question about his love life.  Had Aquino demonstrated able leadership and control, no one would question his competence.  And while a whole country waits – and waits – on the promises made a year ago, his ratings drop in a system where perception is nine-tenths of reality.  By delegating key Presidential tasks to advisers and czars and Cabinet leaders, he, in effect, distributed public confidence, accountability, and most of all, the spirit of why he’s the President and the leader.

While the country waits – and waits – for him to act, he echoes, “Kayo ang boss ko.” Knowing, despite the value and the glitter of the rhetoric, Benigno Aquino III should, in more ways than one, be the boss of his Cabinet, his Administration, and his country.  In short, the President must step up.

At the height of Typhoons Egay and Falcon, there was little to no mention of the President.  He may have been in the background for all we know, but if the past year of Aquino’s administration is proof of anything, the background is not the place for the Philippine President.

4 comments on “The Drop”

  1. Reply

    A leader must be seen to lead otherwise he is no leader at all.

  2. Reply

    It’s posts like this that keep me in awe of you as a blogger.

    Indeed, Pres Aquino must step up and be more in control. While his efforts are mostly laudable, he must remember that people didn’t vote him to clean up Arroyo’s mess but to lead the country to a better path.

  3. Reply

    Drop? I think we could have expected it from the very first day! Come on, seriously, it was a matter of time. Unheard of approval ratings on the first get go? It was really inevitable that the numbers would drop because there was no other way for it to go. And People expect the numbers to drop. Now let’s put things in perspective, 71 percent still approve of what he does?

    Should we quibble with minutia?

    I agree with you that the government could do a lot more. In fact it should do a lot more. What I think people do not understand is that this government what it is trying to do because it can’t be simplified.

    On the one hand, could “The setup”, the clearing house, the steps to make sure corruption is limited should be done a lot faster? Yeah, but at this point we’re backseat driving. The case of GovPh the website for example can’t be purely published on the web because of some law that hasn’t been rewritten. Amidst all the other priorities of governance, i’m sure that little detail rates little compared to say, LEDAC bills.

    It’s easy to say things could be done faster. I call it government inertia. There is an escape velocity We need to overcome. The problems are complex.

    I do agree with you to the point that for all the good this government has done, it needs to do more, and to do more quickly. I agree with you governance and politics is for the most part, a matter of perception. People are impatient. We need tangible results. Small victories.

    You know, de Quiros was right. It is a matter of perspective. Ondoy we didn’t have a government. However imperfect the reaction of government was to Falcon, at least there was a government. I’ve seen how hard working MMDA was over the past week. They were organized. They were working.

    A lot of things are wrong. A lot of things are still broken. Perspective: some things are getting better. It isn’t consuelo de bobo. Whoever said nation building was easy? For that matter, whoever said Aquino could magically make things better. Let’s judge this administration after six years. So far, I’m satisfied, but yes, there is a lot of room for improvement.

    • joe
    • June 27, 2011

    If the president wants a pick up on his popularity rating, the solution is quite simple. On the platform of honesty and good governance, his people should crucify a former government public official who had nothing prior to his government service and now owns, cars and houses and has tons of money in the bank. They dont have to look very far to find someone like that. The question in my mind is ” Do they have the balls to do it”. So far, I have not seen anyone who they say stole, end up in jail. I voted for P’noy and am now part of the disgruntled citizens who are starting to doubt if good governance and integrity in government is at hand or remains a far off dream.

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