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PNOY One Year After


                (MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES) More than ten(10) months since President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) has started his presidency with a solemn vow to stop corruption in the government in particular and the country in general.  In fact, his campaign slogan during the May 10, 2010 elections “Walang Mahirap pag Walang Korap” (there will be no poor if there is no corruption), has made a big difference between him and all the other Presidential candidates.  His landslide victory was made possible because more than fifty percent (50%) of the voters believed and identified with him.


                But that was more than ten months ago, today the bleak reality has come down to millions of poor people that there has not been much difference between PNoy and his predecessors.   In fact in some areas he shows signs that he is worst than his immediate predecessor GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo).  Results of surveys have shown that his downtrend direction seems unstoppable.  His fights against corruption have met head on collision with the people and mechanism set-up by GMA and initial results show that PNoy is knocked down in every turn.  The so-called advisers around him and his dependence on them have made things worst and people have began to react and it will just be a matter of time when a symbols like a poor and unemployed person out of desperation will burn himself/herself in public like in Tunisia and people will converge in EDSA like in the Egyptian Tahrir Square to start or restart an EDSA uprising.  That is if PNoy will not made a major rethinking and refocusing his presidency and his priorities.


Focusing and Prioritizing


                PNoy and all his advisers have known long ago that GMA and her people have set-up her continued governance even when she is long out of her presidency.  One can easily spot these mechanisms, several of which were made possible through her midnight appointments in the Supreme Court and in all anti-graft and corruption instrumentalities.  Hence, PNoy should avoid confronting these territories head on otherwise he will be facing Constitutional dead-ends and debates and  in effect derailing and delaying his corruption campaigns. He should concentrate on winning concrete battles and proceed from there.


                Educate the people and rally them towards the goals of eliminating corruption and improving their lives through empowerment and not dole outs can help in moving forward  while strengthening his grounds for  more battles ahead.


                At this stage, PNoy should identify areas where he is sure to win with the people and prepare to mobilize them again for bigger and difficult battles.


                Reproductive Health Bill or RH Bill is very important but it is surely dividing the people and it is an area where the people of GMA has prepared  a political ambush for PNoy.  Currently,  signs are showing that this Bill is dividing, derailing and delaying his campaign against corruption.  At this stage, the Church can be the best and reliable ally in PNoy’s campaign against corruption.  Winning the Church hierarchy at this stage on Pnoy’s side is very important asset than liability.  Obviously, the GMA people and the opposition do not want the division to disappear.





The ARMM Elections and the Ampatuans


                PNoy’s position on postponing ARMM elections is an example of not hitting his aim, in fact, it is surely bringing him down lower than his immediate predecessor.


                Achieving reforms is not contradictory to getting a broader democratic support  that can be best express through elections.  But PNoy or his advisers want to convey a message to the nation in general and to the ARMM in particular that having elections in the ARMM now is not achieving reforms or worst having a democratic exercise such as election is contradictory in achieving reforms. And what is unthinkable is that PNoy wants to be dictator worst than Marcos, because he wants to appoint the people in the ARMM Executive and Legislative bodies, who will be directly accountable and responsible only to him or his advisers for more than 2 years.  At least Marcos at the peak of this power had to create a modicum of legality to do this  but PNoy and his advisers want that only in being authoritarian can reforms be done in ARMM.


                Everybody knows that ARMM is a failed political case where the word autonomy is understood as autocracy at least  by the leaders supported by the previous administration.  But PNoy should make a difference at least the people of ARMM believed then during the May 2010 elections.  The Maguindanao massacre in Nov 2009 has shown one of the ugliest results of the impunity created by the symbiotic interests of GMA and the Ampatuans.


                PNoy can make a concrete difference if he gives full support to solving the Maguindanao massacre and punishing the guilty.  At this stage, it is clear that only the lawyers of the accused are pretending that their clients are innocent.  PNoy should at least help in the campaign that the trial should be made public thru live coverage and people will see if the millions of pesos paid to the lawyers of the Ampatuans can make the accused and their defenders look people straight into their eyes.


                One of the reasons put forward by PNoy and his advisers for postponing the ARMM elections is to prevent the return of the influence of the Ampatuans in the elections (August 8, 2011).  But it is nowhere in this  reasoning that states that the Ampatuans  have not lost their control even when they are in  jail. In fact, they have become as powerful as when they were in office. Through their cellphones and their operators, they have been  meeting their people in the region.  They have retained effective control of their billions in pesos and dollars as well as their powerful guns.


                Actually, the people of ARMM is wondering why there are no moves from PNoy side to pursue these areas.  Sources are coming out that PNoy and his advisers (including from his family) know where  the money of the  Ampatuan are.  The Central Bank can start the paper trails.  Yes, paper trails because the people are made to believe that the Ampatuans are not fan of the banks.  That was true in the past but not now they have to hide part of their billions in haste in the banks because of the Martial Law, which they were given timely warning by PNoy’s predecessor.  Hence, time to move and bury their monies and guns.


                And now, because of PNoy’s inaction, the Ampatuans have started to recall these amounts.  Surely, these can influence the elections in August 2011 and even the  2013 elections.  As these amounts have influenced the criminal cases they are facing in their favor.  Hence, postponing the election in August 2011 is not a solution besides is too presumptuous for PNoy and his advisers to think that the PNoy’s appointees can solve the problem.  In fact, as we have known, the identities of their favorite appointees, they can even make things worst for signs have shown that these potential appointees can even be worse than the Ampatuans notwithstanding their affinity to the Ampatuans by marriage and political connections





What about the Guns?


                For months now, PNoy and Congress have been talking about corruptions in the military.  In fact, is has focused mainly on the J6 or the controllership or specifically Lt. Gen Ligot (ret) and Major Gen.  Garcia (ret). Of course, this is very important but it makes people in the ARMM or elsewhere in the country think that the case of ARMM and the Ampatuans have been  intentionally avoided.  If PNoy and his advisers are serious about solving the corruption in the military, the case  of Ampatuans and their methods of acquiring their arsenals is sure way to lead in to the right way (daang matuwid). All those guns found or unearthed in the many properties and compounds of the Ampatuans have shown clear identifications of their sources – from the AFP.  How the Ampatuans got their Barrett guns (50 calibre specialized for sniping) which only few are in possession of the elite AFP units are worth of serious thinking.  Worst these guns are finding their ways to different groups not excluding the rebel groups like MILF but worst the Ampatuan relatives(those in wanted list) and followers are freely bringing their guns to former MILF 105 brigade commander Ameril Ombra Kato’s  Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters (MIFF).


                Surely these guns and those who are in possession of them can influence the results of the elections in 2011 and more so in 2013.


                PNoy and his advisers can start concretely on the serious investigation of how these guns came into the possessions of the Ampatuan and their followers and they will surely arrive in the doorsteps of his predecessor and the generals (active and retired) who received millions of pesos from the Ampatuans to facilitate the arms transfer from the AFP arsenal to the Ampatuan arsenal and now to the people or the so-called “enemy of the state” who can easily purchased the guns in the market.


                And what is important in their processes is that the people in the ARMM and the whole country will be supportive and joining PNoy in walking through the “daang matuwid” (right way). Proceeding with 2011 (August) election in ARMM will be the most appropriate way to do this and sustain the fight against corruption and punish the guilty, and the corrupt.


The  Need to Proceed with 2011 ARMM Elections


                In less than ten working days , the Senate will decide whether to agree to postpone the ARMM elections and synchronize it to the National Elections in 2013.  Some of the honorable senators especially the four Liberal Party members (PNoy Partymates) have already agreed. It is just a matter of adapting HB 4146 which the House of Representatives had already adapted with the votes influenced by the pork barrel and the quid pro quo arrangement with signing for the Impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez and approving the Heroes Burial for the late dictator Marcos.  Now, the Senate is facing a not so different situation, where Senator Bongbong Marcos, Jr.,  Chair of the Constitutional Reform Committee which is in charge of making the amendment for the postponement of the August 2011 ARMM election as stated in the R.A. 9054. It will not be far-fetched, the burial of his father will not be used as quid pro quo arrangement.


                Hence, the possibility of postponing the ARMM August elections in 2011 is becoming greater.  Already the deadline of filing the candidacy for the ARMM Executive and Legislative positions have been moved thrice.  A clear sign that the COMELEC headed by the former Comelec Commissioner, the maker of GMA, Garcillano protégé (Rey Sumalipao) is awaiting for the Malacanang signal.


                Surely, if the ARMM election is postponed, Pnoy will be one of the worst President the country has ever had.


Richard de Silva, May 14, 2011


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