A Repost: A Philippine Hero: Benigno Aquino III

By Joe America

It seems to me that it is time to stop referring to the President casually, as if he were our pal, an ordinary guy we demanded be our president because he was of good parentage and decent character.

For me, it is now Mr. President, or the President, or Benigno Aquino III, or minimally Noynoy Aquino. But no more Pnoy, no more Noy. No more casual.

This is no ordinary guy.

Now some will complain that I am a shill for the Administration, or brand me a yellow-tard, or cast some other credibility-destroying hard words my direction. And they will do this upon reading the headline, or before I even type a word past the first two paragraphs of this article.

Which basically proves the point they are not really writing about my views, but about their bias against Mr. Aquino, probably based on an incident or two that upset them. So cast your stones. It makes no difference to me.

This is no ordinary guy.

Now some want the President to look like Fernando Poe or Piolo Pascual and have a movie star wife and seven kids and a dynasty in process with a kid in the Senate and another the Mayor. They want him to crush people like Pacquiao does and cheat on his wife and get rich by sucking up the taxpayer money like ordinary power-peddlers. You know, show some manhood.

Well, to me the guy has more manhood in his character than all those addle-valued nutcases who are out to prove something to somebody ALL THE TIME because down deep they are blood-sucking leeches preying on our community, or are ineffectual pantywaists who are afraid of their own shadows.

Normally, one’s legacy comes in the future. That gives time a chance to apply its talent to reveal the full meanings of acts undertaken today. Well, let’s just mosey down the road a piece, maybe 10 or 15 years, and look back at now. If we do that, we will see that some hints exist today about President Aquino’s eventual legacy.

Two such hints appeared in articles that popped up on Rappler the other day. They were like flint on steel, generating a spark that simmered in my mind and then, overnight, turned into a blaze of comprehension.

One article talked about the Administration acknowledging that it was falling short of social development goals, specifically a reduction in poverty.
The other reported on Ayala Land Corporation’s proposed investment of P70 billion in new projects this year.

Behind on Social Development Goals

Do you realize how strikingly unusual it is for any public servant to acknowledge he is not doing what needs to be done? That he is not up to HIS OWN expectations?

It doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. This is the land of blame and excuse, of accusation and denial, of sly deceits aimed at preserving face and pasting over insecurities or lack of confidence. This is not a land of forthright honesty, of candor, of confidence.

EXCEPT for the rare executives in the crowd. The pragmatists. The realists. The people who honestly want to do a good job, who strive for real achievement.

President Aquino entered office as a reserved, quiet, humble man. And he went to work. Somewhere along the line he grew backbone to replace passivity, determination to replace hesitation, and maturity unmatched by ANY other leader in Asia and perhaps the world.

Now he has the unmitigated EXECUTIVE GALL – that state of overbearing managerial or presidential COMPETENCE – to look at his own stated measures of performance and to call it as he sees it:

“We aren’t doing enough. We must do more.”

Astounding. Truly. His desire to do well by the Philippines is more important than spinning things pretty.

My dear Filipino friends, enemies, and neighbors, your President is a smart man with good values, determination, and an eye on getting good things done.

He faces up to sultans and rebels and crooks and headstrong mayors and epal-addicted politicians and outrageously negative media and leaders of Taiwan and Hong Kong and China, and he represents us – you and me – with calm intelligence, determined strength, peaceful intent and an end result in mind.

He is building the Philippines like no president before him. None. Zero.

He keeps after his subordinates, cabinet members of no light reputation or character, to stay focused and produce results. Who else built over 66,000 classrooms in three years, or chartered so many road, rail and airport investments that Manila risks crashing to a standstill so that valuable infrastructure can be put in place?

And you don’t see him wasting money pasting his face on big signs near all the construction projects that are under way across the nation.

Who else would have the patience and endurance and maturity to put together a Mindanao investment agreement (that’s what is is, you know), face up to the US at the bargaining table with dignity as equals, and calmly put up with a Vice President of different values who keeps throwing wrenches into the government’s difficult works?

I look at the other clowns in leadership positions in Asia. Emotional loudmouths in Taiwan and Hong Kong, an insane murderer in North Korea, a right-wing reactionary in Japan, insecure bullies in China, politically immature leaders to the left and right . . . you want to know who shines? Who stands out as a diplomat of principle and intelligence? Who walks a straight path and talks a straight deal? Who needs to prove nothing to anybody because he has no aspiration other than to build a better nation?

President Benigno Aquino III

Well, heroes are usually not named during their own time, but after it. But can’t you read the tea leaves? Peer into the future and look back? I do, and I end up looking back and saying, “wow, that man remade the Philippines.”

Ayala Land Investments

Ayala in 2013 spent P66.26 billion on various projects. This year, they expect to spend P70 billion. They are not alone, as other property developers and businesses do the same. Malls and residential tracts and office buildings and hotels and retail stores are being built across the Philippines.

You know what else Ayala and others are building?

Jobs. Careers. Small businesses. Managers. A middle class. Wealth.

Will Ayala shareholders and executives get rich? Yep. They get rich for a reason. They are creating wealth, and it is to the nation’s benefit that they do so. They are not commie leftists with nothing to show for anything, a tower of babble leaning into the 1950’s wind spawning a bunch of gangsters who invest in extortion and destruction.

And why are the Ayalas of the Philippines willing to invest so much in this nation of ours?

Because it is stable. It is financially, socially, and ethically stronger than before Mr. Aquino took office, finances are managed professionally, the coup mentality is going, going . . . gone. Crooks are being rooted out one at a time. Tax revenue is up, leakage from corruption is down. It is a different nation.

They invest because it is a growing nation worth investing in.

You say the wealth is not reaching everyone?

Ha, that’s what President Aquino says as well.

Give it time and some tweaking. Time and the responsible work of doing it better. The US economy collapsed in 2008 and it is now six years later and businesses are still getting back on their feet.

Gadzooks, we found out yesterday that Mercury Drug is moving into my home town of Naval Biliran next month. Jollibee is looking at the market. The municipality is clean, honest, healthy and growing. Bamboo shacks are coming down and hollowblock homes are going up. I’d bet this is a national trend.

Do a stop action photo, like they do of flowers growing, and you will visually see the Philippines emerging into robust, modern times.

Reality Check

Has the President made mistakes? Well, each observer has his own eye (partially blind I might note, as we do not have information the President has) and each has his own interests. But for me, personally, I’d rate the following as “mistakes”, rated on a scale of importance, 1 to 10, with 10 being very, very important. Like, defining a nation.

Not backing FOI as a priority (10).
Not giving a visible priority to murder of journalists (7).
Not being more liberal/aggressive on modernization (ending bank secrecy, divorce law, telling the Catholic Church to move back to the pulpit) (7)
Backing the Cybercrime Prevention Act in its constitutionally challenged state (5).
Politicizing Yolanda recovery (3).

You may have your own list of his “mistakes”. But I find that he has delivered favorable results in so, so many complex areas that the mistakes fall within the realm of acceptable executive choice. They shrink when put up against the achievements, Mindanao, focus on corruption, handling crises calmly and maturely – sultan, Taiwan and Zamboanga – firm against China, economic revitalization, new contract rules to eliminate kickbacks, focus on education, building a healthy US relationship, cutting red tape, turning Customs inside out, building new alliances (Japan, Malaysia, Australia), building infrastructure, raising taxes by insisting people pay what they owe, and much, much more. Superb, mature work in very complex arenas.

You don’t change the direction of an aircraft carrier in a hundred meters and you don’t change the direction of a nation in a year. Or even six. But President Aquino has this baby cranked about.

The important thing is the stability that he brought into office on the dreams of the voters and his own hard, earnest work.

That stability – nay, that promise – is due to the “aura” of President Aquino and the application of the power that came with it to do good deeds. He built a rock-solid core foundation for the nation. It will be up to others – and to voters – to make sure the building continues. But for now . . . before the legacy is recognized worldwide . . . we only need say . . .

Keep up the good work Mr. President

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