Midway Into The Honeymoon

We are halfway into the magic 100 days that elected Presidents have, the honeymoon, after which the hunting season begins.

How is Malacanang doing 50 days into its bliss?

There was the SONA which despite its lightness resonated with the masses.

There was the Wang-Wang which despite its inconsequence vis-à-vis say our P4.5 trillion debt; resonated with the masses.

There was the dismissal of Nilo, head of Pagasa, which paled in relation to the appointments of Alvarez, Tolentino, Paje, Ong, et al; yet resonated with the masses.

The nation is satisfied or so it seems. The President, as we are tirelessly reminded by his Communications Group, has an 88% trust rating and that is the proof of the pudding.

Yet even with the all-clear, there are clouds over the horizon.

Like the free-for-all in the Palace.

In the Communications side, the saga continues. The friction between the Montelibano/Kamaganak faction and the rest of the world was ostensibly settled with the formation of the Communications Group, an awkward structure of three units in one. The Government owns a trove of valuable media assets so the stakes are not just about bragging rights. The final chapter has still to unfold.

The economic team is more unified with the Mar/Hyatt 10 camp having taken hold of the key positions and the agenda. Sitting in left field is Paderanga, unsolicited and unattended, notwithstanding that he is Secretary General of NEDA, the constitutional body designated to lead the economy. He seems to like it that way.

There are the Abads. When they congregate it is not a family gathering it is a Cabinet meeting.

Dinky Soliman in DSWD is flying solo. She was the first Cabinet official named, a badge she probably flashes.

INC has their man in the DENR, a choice that has alarmed NGOs and those in the know.

DILG, arguably the most powerful office in the Cabinet, is in safe hands. Robredo is by all accounts a good choice.

Binay sits in Housing, hatching his ideas, and watching, watching.

In the heart of Malacanang, unbeknownst to the public, roams an opaque group composed largely of recycled Cory advisers. Their turf is the Presidential appointment book, his daily schedule, who he sees and for how long, the moments of a President’s life that are publicly unmonitored.

The currency in this inner-world is the gossip of smoke filled rooms, the innuendoes that embed themselves in the President’s psyche.

More than any Cabinet memo, the last word whispered into the President’s ear is what remains when the day is over.

These insiders sway the President’s judgment, away from the public eye, unaccountable.

Then there are the three Angels, the President’s sisters with their ear to the real world, the NGOs, the religious sector, friends and friends’ friends. They represent the backchannel, the public feedback the President encouraged at the start of his term. Unfortunately, the sisters are being shunted by the insiders since they represent the biggest threat to their existence.

Lastly, there are the friends of the President. He is most comfortable with them, trusts them even as it seems they are over their heads. The office of the Executive Secretary houses many of these figures.

And at the center of the universe stands the President, increasingly isolated. In the face of the motley of advisers that cling to his being, clutch at his persona, hoping to put their word in his mouth, their message in his brain; the President stands unshielded from the winds, many of ill will, buffeted every which way, demanding of his attention.

How can he survive in the vortex, maintain his judgment and balance in the face of unsubstantiated claims, panderings  and malicious intent that are unceasingly presented to him, ostensibly in a pure and silver plate?

With his trust rating that is difficult. For as far as he can tell all is fine in the Republic (and in his office); even if it is not. It is hard to be discerning when all is seemingly well.

It will take a mishap, a crisis to bring the President back to his roots, to the realization of his surroundings. His sisters will be a safe haven in those moments.

Yet it is a pity that it requires a crisis to return him to his flight path, the course he set  with the nation on the dawn of his Government.

Would it not be better for the Filipino that the President find the true nature of his Government and his people now, as he is in full flight?

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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