Yes, “golden age” was the phrase used by a New York Times article on the EDSA I celebration, with the second paragraph reading, in the man-on-the street-quote style of American journalism: “I think Marcos was our best President,” said a Manila resident who was born two years after the dictator was overthrown. “That was when the Philippines was the leader of Asia. We were respected.”
Another interviewee was quoted: “Apple 26, an employee of a Manila aluminum siding company, said the fate of Imelda Marcos’ jewels was not a priority for her in the next election. She spends hours each day battling traffic to get to work and is frustrated by the current government. She said she has heard stories of how orderly the country was during the Marcos years.”
“During the time of martial law, the Philippines was disciplined,” she said as she gestured toward a group of jaywalkers dodging vehicles and blocking traffic. “People don’t even know how to cross the street now.”
How many Filipinos would have read the New York Times? But it is this bungling, onion-skinned President who drew everyone’s attention to it by reporting such a perception now in his speech at the EDSA celebration, and lamely retorting that it was rather “a golden age only for Marcos.” It is, indeed, strange that after nearly six years in power, and with Marcos having been toppled from power three decades ago, Aquino would dedicate his last EDSA celebration speech as President to portraying how bad the dictatorship was.
What if it’s Jinggoy?
The plain fact, though, is that rather than whether the Marcos years were golden or iron, Aquino’s six years in office have been so bad that the strongman is now perceived as one of the best Presidents ever.
But if it were President Estrada’s son Jinggoy Estrada running and now ahead of the pack – instead of the strongman’s son, Ferdinand (“Bongbong”) 2nd – I’m quite sure Aquino would be devoting much of his speech not on EDSA I, but on EDSA II, and narrating in sordid details the corruption during Erap’s Administration.
And in that comparison, I’m sure most Filipinos would say that Aquino’s years were so bad, that Estrada’s shortened three years in office were the golden age.
And why are Aquino’s years so bad? Well, in the first place, only die-hard Coryistas would believe that her intervention from a heaven somewhere could make a good President out of this brat who never really worked a day in his life, and did nothing much in his years as congressman and senator.
Here are some of the reasons why he’s been so bad, which even if summarized would take longer than five times the length of this column:
Aquino has not initiated any real program to reform the economy, with the much-ballyhooed gross domestic product (GDP) growth since 2010 due almost entirely to overseas workers’ remittances. In contrast, among others, former President Gloria Arroyo instituted the VAT reform program, which if controversial, stabilized government revenues, undertook the RO-RO infrastructure program, and developed the BPOs sector as a major industry. What has Aquino done?
Aquino has damaged our institutions to the extent that it would take us years to repair. The Congress was bribed to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, something that has never happened before, and even seemed inconceivable. The Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit have been transformed into weapons against the opposition, and the next Administration, I’m sure, will unravel that other than Aquino, the biggest beneficiaries of this has been the Ombudsman’s staff.
Aquino would be known in history as the President who utilized the “rule of law” – through the Ombudsman and the plunder law – so well to put his enemies in prison.
With his pork-barrel and DAP, Aquino had made, and continues to make Congress a den of political prostitutes, that they nearly passed a bill – on the Bangsamoro Basic Law – that would have dismembered our Republic.
The most corrupt
This Administration will be known as one of the most corrupt, yet so skilled in hiding it. Who or what group has been getting the lion’s share in jueteng, which has been estimated to amount to P10 billion yearly? Illegal drugs have proliferated so much in the country, which could be explained only by the fact that government and police officials have been their protectors.
How can we, as a nation, have such a shameful episode as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency head accusing a Navy official of protecting a drug laboratory with stocks of hundreds of millions of pesos worth of illegal drugs?
The MRT-3 that has become a ride-in-hell for millions of Filipinos in the metropolis has served as Exhibit A of this Administration’s ineptitude and corruption. It has made a mess of what was before considered as the international showpiece of the Japanese firms that built it. Why or how did that happen? Because rather than focusing on making it efficient, Aquino’s people in the DOTC had been busy plotting the most efficient means of milking it. This is really one of the costs of corruption: Officials have to spend time and brain power away from work to think of creative ways of executing their corrupt deals.
Smuggling has become so rampant that smuggled goods now don’t even have to be the high-value type of merchandise, as in the past, but for chrissake, even garlic and onions! Trade data indisputably shows that this has gone out of control, and I had estimated the value of smuggled goods in a column I wrote on Aug. 15, 2015: $94.4 billion from 2010 to 2014, or a mammoth P4 trillion, resulting in foregone duties and VAT payment of P760 billion. Has Aquino done anything to stop the drug and smuggling syndicates? Nada.
His mother Cory in 1986 gave new life to the Moro and communist rebellions after Marcos nearly brought them to their knees, reportedly with 80 percent of the armed forces clashing in battle with these insurgents. She herself went to Sulu to meet with MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, while she sent her brother-in-law, Agapito Aquino, to pay his respects to the MILF, boosting both organizations’ prestige among their ethnic groups to the extent they stirred back to life, after having been practically routed by the Marcos army.
Her son BS outdid her, however, when he went to a Tokyo airport hotel to meet with the MILF chairman and vice-chairman for peace talks. One can’t imagine how the MILF’s prestige had zoomed up after that, with even Muslim politicians and young would-be mujahideen’s rallying around the MILF flag. Under Aquino, the MILF has expanded, and is even manufacturing now the dreaded Barrett M82 sniper rifle, the weapon used with deadly results by the Islamic insurgents in the Mamasapano massacre.
And lastly, BS Aquino has been such a divisive President, with his Yellow Cult opening up the deep wounds between those who supported the EDSA revolution and those that did not, mainly from North Luzon.
And some people want another six years of this?