Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When a President listens to traditional Big Business and Politics

As early as a few months of the Aquino administration, several people have already noticed something strange and different. The newly-elected president appointed a few unknowns yet generally kept familiar names associated with the former dispensation in their old posts. Instead of appointing competent people without political baggages in critical positions, Aquino chose those from the Liberal party, a very traditional way of rewarding those who contributed to his election kitty.

Close friends of the Aquinos and the president's own personal circle got themselves appointed to sensitive posts, leaving others to the discretion of businessmen and politican personalities who gave not just millions to the campaign but provided much of the logistical needs.

This is expected since politics works this way. However, for a president elected overwhelmingly by the Filipino electorate based on the oft-repeated platform of Pagbabago or change, most of those who worked for the election of Aquino, those "behind the scenes", expected honestly that this president would somehow, be different from others.

Fact is, this has been expressed early on in the campaign. Most people likened Aquino to Obama who preached for change in America. There was a conscious effort to pattern the campaign like how Obama did in his.

This feeling somewhat defined the first two years of the Aquino administration. However, as things slowly developed, people noticed that this president is slowly losing his grip and is being influenced by proxies of Big Business and Traditional political personalities.

Instead of defining his own way of doing things and implementing a direction different from his predecessors, the first two years of Aquino were attempts at mending fences with traditional power centers either thru political accommodation and most, thru business deals.

Of course, certain political personalities were sacrificed just to misled the reform-minded groups that comprise the bulk of Aquino's supporters. Aquino handed over his former professor, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the hungry and revengeful mob. It was a deft political move, meant to fulfill one of the compromises entered into by Aquino with ideological groups.

While satiating the hunger of groups out to avenge their nine year suffering under the Arroyo regime, Aquino and his allies silently did some measures and deals in favor of their business and political allies. Some politicians who once allied themselves with Arroyo, left their political parties and joined the Liberals. Business interests took part in carving the government, many of them quite hungry for government assets now up for sale. While this administration provides the entertainment for the masses in the guise of prosecuting alleged grafters during the past dispensation, Aquino's allies are out dealing with several business groups in giving them their share of government assets, under the name "private-public partnerships".

Several suggestions coming from well-meaning groups were entertained yet were given for consultations to the elite backers of Aquino. This explains what Congressman Walden Bello said as "pro-people measures" completed under Aquino and were used as basis for Bello's and Akbayan's conitnued faith with the administration.

Measures which were critical and subtantive elements for strengthening democratic institutions were given the run around or worse, relegated to memory. One such promised measure, the Freedom of Information bill, remains unfinished, its fate left to the dogs. Another measure, changes in the EPIRA law, is still not being prioritized by this government.

As this administration aged, it slowly distance itself from the well-meaning groups that supported it in the elections. The interests of this administration are now being defined by business and traditional politics.