First 101 Days

There will be a cacophony of articles on the President’s 100 days. I thought I would add to the din.

Noy launched his Presidency with an Inaugural address made memorable by the banning of wangwangs. People liked that. I would have preferred that he had banned traffic.

Then there was the SONA which captured our hearts if not our minds. The President highlighted the attractive job opportunities in MWSS and the NFA’s obsession with rice. He also noted the loose change that ex-President Gloria was kind enough to leave at the door. She was not there to receive thanks having decided that summer sales in Hong Kong were simply too good to miss.

The President unveiled the Truth Commission. This body is to expose the truth …but only about Gloria. Not for her to worry, the Commission has apparently gone the way of the MWSS and NFA investigations i.e. nowhere. This Zen Government only lives in the now.

The President did complete his Cabinet. This is no small feat given all the people tugging at his sleeve with their tin cups: the Kamaganaks, the Balay faction, the Samar faction, the Hyatt 10, the LP gang, Makati Business Club, ex-Coryistas, the Batch of 77, the financial supporters, INC, People Power groups, his sisters’ barkada, Kris’ barkada, the Abads. And then there was Binay.

I hope I did not miss anybody.

At the end everybody got a seat at the table except the Abads who got more than their share and the sisters’ barkada who got none of theirs.

Despite its eclectic origins, the Cabinet is surprisingly homogeneous, molded in the President’s image and likeness. In fact some of the heads are indistinguishable from one another. The idea perhaps is that portfolios can be shuffled without the public noticing. Some have described the Cabinet as a case of the bland leading the bland.

The President claimed $2.4 billion in new foreign investments. Let’s chalk that up to his U.S.trip. The DOF promised a tax evader every week and a smuggler every two. They did not quite meet the schedule but that was a tough one to start with.

Noy’s young Presidency was marred by the tragic hostage taking in full view of the world. In a sense the incident captured much of what plagues this nation, the sloppiness, the territoriality, the media anarchy in the guise of the right to know, our unpreparedness.

The Government’s bungling of the affair revealed the immaturity and incapacity of the Administration when, literally and figuratively, under fire. This Government is fine in good weather but unprepared in a storm.

The period also witnessed the flubbed answer of Venus Raj, our candidate for Miss Universe.  Coming as it did within days of Luneta, it served notice that we are a mistake prone nation.

The revelations of ex-Archbishop Cruz added to the woes of the President, exposing the seeming corruption among his advisers if not their incompetence. On either basis, they should have been dismissed. It is pathetic to witness Noy’s close friends so clinging to power even at the risk of bringing down the President.

Many are surprised  it took the President only a few days to dismiss allegations of corruption against USec. Puno, a complex subject of deep implications, when the Government still has to decide on the simpler matter of the IIRC findings, now on its second month.

The rapid sequence of mishaps impacted the President’s popularity. It is now down to 71%, a remarkable figure for any leader (Obama is at 37%), but nonetheless a drop from the 88% before Luneta.

The President got a boost from unexpected quarters, the Church, and for the wrong reason. Possibly upon advise of the Holy Spirit, CBCP head Odchimar threatened P-Noy with excommunication over the RH bill; and got a bucketful from the public in return.

Despite all their problems-pedophile priests, money laundering allegations- the Church still does not get it. That is what a monopoly does, makes you feel omnipotent, thinking you can run down issues and personalities from the pulpit. The Church is clearly out of its depth and its time on social matters, a dinosaur. It is a shame because the Church does do some really good things.

But we are digressing. The upshot of the RH bill is that P-Noy is back on his high horse.

Unfortunately, he may not remain there for very long unless he looks within his advisers and culls those who are either incapable-of which there are many- or corrupt- of which it is said there are still a few.

The first 100 days had a number of wake up calls. I am uncertain that any will be heeded.

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About Leo Alejandrino

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