How to untangle a sabotaged presidency
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-08-10

The unprecedented trust rating of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) can easily be undermined by negative developments or the lack of positive developments. His late mother, President Cory, had enjoyed a similar impetus which delivered overwhelming administration victories in the very first national (Senate) and local elections under the 1987 Constitution — but this was eventually eroded.

One big cause of the slide of President Cory’s popularity was internal administration strife. There were bulls in the China shop in the Cory administration and these bulls didn’t care if the president suffered from their petty intramurals. There were also the coup attempts. Although unsympathetic to the coup plotters, the public started seeing the Cory administration as a source of tension, disorder and instability.

People, especially hungry and jobless people, must feel immediate relief from their most urgent problems. The spirit and morale of Filipinos may have been bolstered by the new-found hope in our new president but their needs compel them to seek immediate relief.

There are two potential sources of problems which could dissipate the high level of public support for the P-Noy administration. It could be prone to a repeat of the intramurals that plagued the Cory administration. There are those among the P-Noy appointees whose loyalties are for his losing Liberal Party (LP) running mate, Mar Roxas, and they have been targeting those whom they accuse of not having supported the Noy-Mar tandem. Their perceived opponents have been the subject of unfair tirades and criticisms emanating from media allies of the pro-Mar group.

However, this is the easier problem to address. There are assurances that P-Noy recognizes this problem and is already watching very closely the brat pack.

The other problem is more difficult for P-Noy to solve. This is the now obvious sabotaged state of P-Noy’s presidency — with thanks to his predecessor, now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

How can P-Noy bring before the bar of justice all those who committed grievous sins against people and country during the GMA regime with an Office of the Ombudsman headed by Merceditas Gutierrez? Based on her perceived track record, who can blame those cynics who believe that the present Ombudsman cannot be trusted to properly prosecute the crimes that had been committed during the GMA regime? Among those who will attempt to steal in the P-Noy administration — will they not be encouraged by this track record of the Ombudsman? P-Noy might have the resolve to catch crooks but how can he prosecute them with an Ombudsman like Gutierrez?

Merceditas Gutierrez had long lost public trust. She assumed her post under a heavy cloud of doubt after being tagged by media as a crony of controversial former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. If Merceditas Gutierrez had any sense of self respect like those admirable British public officials who resign at the slightest question on their action, behavior or integrity – she should have offered her resignation letter to P-Noy on his first day in office. A question of confidence is more than enough ground for resigning a public trust.

The Congress and Senate should now consider providing P-Noy special powers to be able to fulfill his mandate to eliminate corruption. It is either a Special Powers Act — for want of a name — enacted by the House of Representatives and the Senate or an immediate impeachment of these impediments to the public clamor for positive change. Those who shield the lawless should not be allowed to hide under the technicalities of the law.

No different from his mother, P-Noy will not abuse special powers and, like Cory, he will be more inclined to terminate a Special Powers Act once the mission is accomplished. That is in P-Noy’s DNA. He was a reluctant presidential candidate and he wouldn’t want to keep special powers which will counter a very admirable Cory achievement.

A Marcos P-Noy is not. A Cincinattus he will more likely be.

Cincinnatus was working on his small farm when he was recalled by Rome in 458 BC and was installed as a dictator in order to defeat a serious threat — an invasion by the Aequians, Sabinians and Volscians.

Cincinnatus accomplished his mission and saved the Roman Republic. Unlike lesser men who would have taken advantage of the victory and stayed on as a dictator, Cincinnatus gave up his special powers and returned to his farm.

In 439 BC, Cincinnatus was again recalled and given dictatorial powers in order to quash an internal threat, a coup. Again he succeeded in his mission, ceded his dictatorial powers and returned to his farm. It has been said that greater than the man who can wear a crown is the man who can decline it.

We must honor the people’s mandate and empower P-Noy to accomplish his mission – thereby fulfilling the hopes the nation pinned on his presidency. Let’s impeach the impediments to accomplishing P-Noy’s mission or equip him with a Special Powers Act.

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