Saturday, March 21, 2015

The blameless president

Mr. Aquino has expunged several words from his dictionary of leadership. More than four years is enough to leave a trail and a compilation of his spoken and written words has unraveled the words that he has excluded from his preferred verbal and written word pool.
A tragic contemporary event has identified the number one word that he does not use and does not apply to his deeds as president. Mr. Aquino does not have the word “ humility” in his leadership dictionary. If there is one constant to his leadership that starts with the letter “H” it is hubris, tons upon tons of presidential hubris.
Even under conditions of duress, when just a small dose of humility could save the day for him and his embattled leadership, he would rather dig in and assert his belief in the omniscience of his leadership.
The truth is such small dose of humility could have eased the public fury over the senseless death of the SAF 44. Mr. Aquino could have offered a sincere apology to the families of the slain 44 officers, then owned up the full responsibility. With a promise that the deaths would not be senseless deaths, and there would be justice for the slain, the president would have placed himself in the midst of families and the nation in that tragic event. The families would have understood the presidency in that light—a leader big enough and presidential enough to own up the operational bungling that led to the senseless deaths of 44 officers.
The only condition is you have to be sincere, the acknowledgement of failure must be a genuine and a heartfelt one.
Instead of doing the right thing, Mr. Aquino fell prey to the temptation of ego-centered leadership. He blamed Gen. Napenas for the bungled, tragic operation in Mamasapano. He shielded his favorite PNP general, resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, who was identified as the real brains of the operation. More, he used a pedestrian term “ binola” which a president should not have used in a time of grief. The public now could not decide on which grated more—the president’s failure to accept responsibility or using the word “ binola” under the most inappropriate circumstance.
The likes of us who lack formal education and have been raised by laborers and sharecroppers could be forgiven for occasional verbal indiscretions. Those born in the haloed circumstance of Mr. Aquino are not easily forgiven.
Mr. Aquino’s seeking God’s forgiveness for omissions that he might have done was also out of context. It showed that he really did not know how the Scriptures treated leadership. He should have invoked the Sermon on the Mount, which is about the meek and the humble. Or, the line which clearly defined what leadership is all about be : he who wants to be first should be last.
It is no weakness, the Scriptures remind us over and over again, to accept responsibility for failed acts of leadership.
President Aquino was safe to play the blameless game in his first two years in office. His approval ratings were very high. In his first two years, his massive public support enabled him to shrug off criticisms, even the most valid ones, as acts of desperate political partisanship or the unintelligible rants of the relics of the old discredited order.
A section of the media dedicated to the proposition that Mr. Aquino was a great president muted the valid criticisms. The blame on all wrongs in the country was someone else, or some vested interest, not Mr. Aquino, never Mr. Aquino.
That section of the media is still devoted to Mr. Aquino but it is now hard put in skewing the headlines, in slanting the stories, to lay the blame for the presidential bungling elsewhere. It is reckoning time and the anti-Aquino forces opposing in the shadows over the past four years have gone beyond burning his effigy. There are now organized groups, multi-sectoral ones, pressing for his resignation. An uncle and aunt of Mr. Aquino on the Cojuangco side of the family are with one of the groups working for his resignation.
On the Aquino side, even the most political ones have yet to come out to defend Mr. Aquino.
The business groups are still with Mr. Aquino. In fact, they, along with some politicians angling for favor, are the remaining bastions of support of the Aquino presidency. The public pulse is reflected in the sense of rage expressed by netizens. If Mr. Aquino does not have a sense of the true public perception of his presidency, he should ask his staff to compile the list of damning names by which the netizens call him now.
Can Mr. Aquino reverse course, drop the hubris for some needed dosage of humility?
Zero chance that would happen. The people with him in his bunker sustain the narrative of his supposed greatness as president. Ang galing mo Boss. And like all presidents, Mr. Aquino loves listening to the timber of his own voice. They live in either in a bubble or in an alternate universe.

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