AFTER almost a year now in office, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III seems to have been very persistent with only one agenda: the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. If there is anything interesting that can highlight best his first year in office that will be his unrelenting engagement with Catholic bishops on the same worn out issue, the RH bill. He may be the first president in this country’s history that had the most overt dialogues with bishops at the first year of presidency—but ended up in futility because, according to the bishops’ letter to him, “the prevailing circumstances where a healthy atmosphere for dialogue on the matter is wanting.”
It won’t appear ridiculous if he will be referred to as the “RH President”. That will at least be higher in moniker than, say, a “Jueteng President” or something of “Hello Garci” and, perhaps, a lighter epitaph of a “president who hid under her bed”. The only rub is, if the RH Bill goes down, he may also go with it. Yes, Virginia, this bill is politically potent that may spell the difference between holding on to power or being booted out of it—or at least reaching the finish line but nursing some wounds of “survivorship” governance.
The plummeting of his popularity rating of late is not an unusual twist of fate. This was expected in the face of a growing number of Filipinos who have become unhappy, dissatisfied and disenchanted. One year in office maybe cruelly too short to deliver campaign promises. But even streaks of his “matuwid na daan” or “kung walang kurap walang mahirap” is nowhere in sight and maybe just as fancy as the PS2 games where he is reputed to be so obsessively adept.
What people saw from day one was the innumerable missteps, blunders, boo-boos and diplomatic faux pas. But these are nothing compared to the absence of a realistic road map that will answer the country’s worsening poverty problem that maybe traced from a whole gamut of mismanagement to endemic corruption. All that this administration has done so far are the “band-aid” solutions the likes of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program and the “Pantawid Pasada Program” which are both tentative and palliative.
Of late one reads a barrage of criticisms from commentators and observers. Nestor Mata, for instance, wrote: “…ever since he came to power, Aquino has already shown that he has no nescience, that is, he lacks knowledge of rules of governance and is ignorant of the Constitution and other laws of the land.” And this one from an online observer: “It looks like unsuspecting Filipinos had elected a little boy to Malacañang Palace, thinking him to be fully a man…The problem is that this man-boy is now technically the most powerful man in the Philippines. Can we still afford to cut him some slack?”