It has been three days since Philippine President Benigno Aquino III addressed the nation in a primetime simulcast. But public reception and opinion continue to be divided instead of dissipating the growing public cynicism of his administration
Some likened his public address to Nixon’s cry in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Only, Aquino continues to hang on to his overall net positive approval rating.
But ‘public fondness’ of him could dive overnight as opinion makers find his nationwide address more divisive than a rallying point for people to his ‘tuwid na daan’ slogan (straight path), an anti-corruption cry that propelled him to the presidency in 2010.
He was riding so high from the goodwill of his 2010 presidential win that it resulted in a strong victory for his Senate slate during the midterm elections in May this year when tradition dictates that the opposition is supposed to make a strong showing (the administration slate won nine of the 12 senate slots).
But the pendulum is swinging very quickly for him. Four months after his important victory, Aquino now faces, by far, the biggest challenge against his administration.
It all began with Janet Lim Napoles and her role in the multibillion peso scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of members of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives.
What began as promising start to hit at corruption at the core of Philippine politics has since spiraled into a growing acrimonious contradiction between and among the country’s political elites. The president has been reduced to his usual finger pointing and the same worn out blame game to deflect public outrage over his own failings, while the people can only take sides instead of being able to get rid of what the system has bred all throughout its history.
No, Mr. President, it is not just all about you and them being thieves.
It is about your lack of trust in the Filipino people.
Yes, your anti-corruption campaign has failed to resonate and to stir people’s interest because you have lost faith in them, if you ever had it at all.
Pardon us if we invoke the memory of the dead. But like your mother, you shrilled at the thought of having the people in front of you as you battle your own class interests and political survival.
You could have easily reached out to people who are more than willing to provide their warm bodies as you battle the demons of your own class. Instead, you riled them.
You could have broadened your base to bring this issue to a decisive finish. Instead, you chose to find comfort in your clique of friends and supporters who themselves are contemptuous of the real political power that resides and could emanate from the people.
That is why, Mr. President, your line is not selling.