Last week, Philippine President Noynoy Aquino celebrated his first 100 days in office. In many countries, a new President’s first 100 days are considered very important, because they set a tone for his Administration’s direction. The first 100 days are seen as a kind of test as to what the President is serious about, and if he is effective in getting things done.
So far, what has President Aquino accomplished? Well, personally, as I think about it, I am not really sure what he has accomplished. I cannot see any kind of landmark legislation that has been put in place. I do not see any steps that have been taken that define a change in the direction of the country, at least not in a positive way.
Probably the one event that has defined Aquino’s Presidency so far was the Manila Massacre, a hostage crisis that took place on a bus in Metro Manila back in August. In that crisis, a number of foreigners from Hong Kong were massacred. The operation was botched by the team of Philippine National Police and left a very bad impression for everybody involved. President Aquino was harshly criticized for his handling of the crisis. Not only did the President take a very “hands off” approach to the entire situation, he even refused to take phone calls from the Hong Kong Prime Minister while the crisis was ongoing. After the poor handling of the hostage situation, later the handling of the repatriation of the dead bodies of the Chinese Citizens was also bungled with some bodies being shipped to the wrong families. After this crisis, President Aquino ordered an investigation to determine who was at fault, and to make recommendations on what to do about it. That investigation was headed by Justice Secretary De Lima, and presented a full report to President Aquino. So far, the President has held that report for several weeks, but no action has been taken.
When Aquino ran for President earlier this year, his number one issue was corruption. He promised to eliminate corruption in the Government. So far, there has been no sign of any action on this front. Last week, President Aquino issued a warning, though. He said that if corrupt officials do not clean up their act, they should look out, because soon he will start naming corrupt officials publicly and embarrassing them by doing so.
So, in other words, if this is the case, President Aquino is saying that he knows of officials who are corrupt, but has done nothing. If they don’t get it together and change their ways, he will name them. Well, if he knows of corruption that is going on, isn’t it his responsibility to take actions, press charges against these people, and fire them? But, nothing like that has been done, he has only threatened to expose them. What if they stop their corrupt practices for a while, since the “heat is on”? Then, when things settle down, they get back to business with their corrupt activities? That doesn’t seem right, but based on the threat of exposure, it is something that seems likely. For me, if a person runs for office on a promise of stopping corruption, they should take action if they know of corruption that is ongoing, not make threats.
When Noynoy Aquino ran for President, there were people who said that Aquino was not a strong leader, and really had no track record. They said that he was only able to win the Presidency based on the name and reputation of his parents. Others felt that Aquino was a very honest person who cared deeply and would turn the Philippine government around by cleaning up the corrupt practices of the past. So far, who do you think was correct in their perceptions of the man?
I am not making any claims of my feelings on this, just presenting what I read in the papers and see on TV news. It would not be my right to make a judgment about President Aquino’s actions or lack thereof, since I am not a citizen of the Philippines. I am interested to hear, though… what do you think so far?