Maybe in some future election, a presidential candidate will come along with the same combination of an excellent political pedigree to go along with near-zero previous experience-but with a gift for sloganeering and self-promotion. And we, the voters, will say: "Not him, we already saw what happened when we voted for Noynoy Aquino."
Tomorrow, Aquino will end six mostly performance-free years as president. Assuming he doesn't end up in jail like his two immediate predecessors right after stepping down, Aquino said he expects to rest in his mother's house and travel by car around the country.
What is also expected to happen is the start of a sober evaluation of Aquino's term, an assessment no longer blinded by the awesome machinery for propaganda that was the only real infrastructure that this president built. Yes, Aquino saw early on the value of good propaganda, which got him the presidency despite his handicap as a nobody with famous parents.
And so, Aquino greatly expanded the once-tiny Office of the Press Secretary, revamping it so that it required three Cabinet-level heads instead of one. It was the only original idea his administration had and it served Aquino in good stead, keeping him in office despite the many man-made and natural calamities that his government would suffer over its six years.
Indeed, everything else that Aquino claimed were his achievements during his term were really programs he continued from previous administrations or the result of incredibly good luck. All the bad things that happened to him were, unfortunately, of his own or his men's doing.
And the things that should have happened but didn't, that were promised but weren't fulfilled? That's Noynoy doing Noynoy things-also known as noynoying, which is roughly translated into "talking a big game but doing nothing."
Let's get this straight, like the much-derided straight path itself: Noynoy did not grow the economy. The national economy grew "organically," as they say, as a result of the policies originally implemented in the time of Fidel Ramos and continued by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The main drivers of economic growth in the past six years were record-breaking OFWs remittances (sent home by second-generation workers who followed in the footsteps of the Marcos-era pioneers) and BPO workers (who thrived in an industry started in the Ramos years, even if falsely claimed by Mar Roxas). Furthermore, the economic growth experienced since 2010 really happened because of renewed international investors' interest in emerging markets like the Philippines, after markets like the US, Europe and Japan started drying up.
The financial and economic reforms started by Ramos and Arroyo bore fruit in Aquino's term, when a worldwide low-interest regime made it possible for investments in the Philippines to become attractive. Aquino and his men will not admit it, but the Philippines was merely the beneficiary of these wide-ranging policy reforms because the country was ready when the good times returned regionally and worldwide after several upheavals and cyclical downturns.
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But while Aquino claims the economic gains that happened in his watch as his greatest achievement, he always fails to point out that, compared to other countries and especially to our neighbors, the Philippines really missed out. It could have grown a lot more, but it didn't.
While Aquino, for instance, points to GDP and FDI growth rates never before seen hereabouts, he never says that because of our much smaller base and humbler starting position, we really didn't grow as fast and as much as our Asean neighbors. Like Mar Roxas claiming a five-fold increase in survey ratings, Aquino doesn't say that we started at single digits, which is why we still cannot grow fast enough to achieve the First-World status that the President says he has in store for us, as long as we stay on Daang Matuwid.
But what did Aquino do to the economy in six years that worked so well? Nothing except, as one prominent businessman said recently, in a sightly different context, to get out of the way and do nothing.
What Aquino provided, some analysts have explained to me, is not innovation or reform but stability. Of course, stability really means that the business community was confident that the government would still be there the following day, week, month and year-that was all business needed in a boom cycle and it would do what it does best, which is to be profitable.
But Aquino's term was only profitable for his friends in business, chiefly new-old crony capitalists like the Ayala family. Precisely because Aquino did nothing much, he allowed select business groups to thrive with hardly a care for the poor-whom he never really did have empathy for as the heir to hacienda owners.
Call it laissez-faire by unimaginative laziness -but with a lot of propaganda-savvy credit-grabbing. Aquino's term was very good for some businessmen, but hell on earth for the poor, who represented the majority and who would eventually reject everything that he stood for.
Source: The Standard