Calculated risks mark P-Noy's presidency
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-10-23
President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) was always the antithesis of what we imagine to be the traditional politician. Unlike grandstanding politicians that will jump into the spotlight or grab a microphone in order to generate attention, P-Noy has been self-effacing and would prefer to remain in the background.

My first opportunity to meet and see Noy in action was months after his father, Ninoy, was murdered. Salvador “Doy” Laurel of the then opposition organized a sort of symposium at the Valle Verde in Pasig where he hoped to consolidate the anti-Marcos forces under his leadership. Noy was tasked to deliver a speech on behalf of the Aquino family. As early as then one would notice the detachment Noy had for the events that were happening - not the sort of detachment though of one who simply doesn’t care but the detachment of one seeking other perspectives to what are happening.

During the 2007 senatorial elections, when Noy ran for a senate seat, there was a mini rally that was organized by Manny Villar outside our Philamlife Village subdivision. Leading the mini rally were Manny Villar, Loren Legarda and Noy Aquino. While they were rallying, my wife Mey was out shopping and easily spotted Loren and Manny in the thick of the crowd. What surprised Mey was to see Noy quietly detached from the proceedings, smoking at wings. Quite odd when you consider that he needed the exposure more than Loren and Manny.

What dramatically contrasts with his self-effacing character trait is that he is a big risk taker. One would have expected a self-effacing person to be shy about taking bold moves. We imagine the Napoleon bravado types to be the big risk takers. From his previous actions and decisions, one would note this source of P-Noy bold moves — when he believes that what he’s doing is absolutely right (moral, ethical) or imperative for the country’s interests or survival.

A lesser president would have kowtowed to China and Hong Kong during the embarrassing August 2010 Luneta Hostage Tragedy. P-Noy stood his ground and refused to be bullied by Hong Kong into how to mete justice for those responsible for the failed police rescue operation. P-Noy sent the necessary delegations to China to explain the Philippine position but not to kneel and kowtow to the top Chinese leaders.

P-Noy placed his political capital on the line when he pushed for the RH Bill, a move that pitted him against the powerful Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church. Again P-Noy placed his political capital on the line when he pushed for the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Had the vote been in favor of a Corona acquittal, a lot of presidential clout would have gone down the drain.

The Catholic Church leaders saw the RH Bill as immoral and opposed to Catholic dogma. P-Noy saw the RH Bill as a free exercise of conscience in doing something vital in order to curb the inequality in Philippine society. The Corona impeachment also divided the legal community. One side saw it as an equal branch trying to dominate the other co-equal branch. P-Noy saw it as a necessary first step if we are to hold all those who plundered and abused power accountable for their misdeeds.

Compared to the RH Bill and the Corona impeachment, the push for the increased revenue from sin products — as what cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are referred to — was a lesser risk. This is because the affected tobacco farmers have the option to shift to other crops and because this also happens to be a major health issue.

In what is comparable to the risk taken for pushing the RH Bill and the Corona impeachment, P-Noy took a major risk when he agreed to meet with MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) Chief Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo. True enough, the evil eyes lost no time in calling P-Noy an amateur and a babe in the woods for taking such a risk.
As it turned out, as confirmed by the MILF leaders during the historic signing of the Framework of the Peace Agreement, that was the one bold move that touched the hearts and minds of the MILF leaders and they finally felt that this was the best time to work for a lasting and a fruitful peace. That confidence was generated by the favorable impression they had of the president — his sincerity and his strong sense of mission.

Another calculated risk that P-Noy made was in tapping Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as back channel negotiator with China. Trillanes, a known loose cannon, was the single biggest risk in this equation. P-Noy tapped him just the same after he considered the risks versus the rewards. It paid off as tensions between the Philippines and China eased and we’re back with cordial discussions of the Panatag Shoal issue.

We Filipinos should recognize when we have a great president. P-Noy showed no hesitation in taking enormous risks in order to set things right in our country. The least that we can do is to unite and help him to succeed.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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