Editorial: Symbolism and the Presidency

Between a victory at The Hague and an alleged jetski attack in the Western Philippine Sea, there is this solemn contrast between those who assume leadership roles with reliable sobriety. The actions of the executive are by nature always symbolic of a policy. When a leader says he would be happy to slaughter drug addicts, it becomes policy down the line while a whole culture mimics him.

The death of former President Benigno Aquino III brings us back to this memorable gesture of 2010 when the convoy of the elected president, on their way to the inauguration, stopped at a red light. Captured live on television, it surprised a nation that for a very long time had to withdraw whenever authorized officials hurtled our roads with blaring sirens. This was a new act, and he then found a word in the inaugural address that followed, with Aquino highlighting his main anti-wang-wang policy, pushing for a paradigm shift in the public mindset. – that we, the people, are the boss.

The deluge of posthumous memories highlighted Aquino’s modesty, simplicity and sincerity – uncomfortable with power, meticulous with details, cold and callous because the brain, not the heart, solves problems. from the country. The heart was still there anyway, constant like the mathematical pi, the life of two parents couldn’t make it any clearer.

So what were the cold facts that Aquino left behind? Fiscal robustness, it should be noted, robustness despite the booming global economy after the recession in the United States. Just three years after taking office in 2013, with an average gross domestic product of 6.2, the highest since the 1970s, the Philippines has overtaken Indonesia and China.

Also in three years, the Philippines has earned an investment grade from global debt watchers, such as Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, which lowered the country’s interest rates by 12% under administration. Arroyo at 4% easily under Aquino’s tenure. For the first time in decades, foreign lenders were comfortable with the Philippines, supposedly the eternal “sick of Asia.”

No more numbers, gentlemen. In the 2010 Economic Freedom Index, the Philippines ranked 115th. Aquino finished his tenure with the Philippines ranked 70th. The government has also raised the country’s rank in the Global Competitiveness Index from 85th to 47th. In the Global Enabling Trade Index, from the 92nd in 2010 to the 64th at the end of 2016.

No other administration has invested in education across the Aquino administration. His government surpassed the deficit of 66,800 classrooms, providing 89,720 until the end of Aquino’s tenure. Philippine education has reached a 1: 1 ratio of textbooks to students, with 170,000 additional teachers hired. By pushing the K + 12 system, our graduates were on par with the rest of the world in terms of year of qualification.

In 2012, the Aquino government prominently displayed the token transparency seal on government websites, a badge that would signify that the agency in question had complied with specific openness requirements, such as posting the l progress of projects, procurement plans, among others.

Now that these governance details have come out of the limelight, they should give the public a basis for contrast. It was definitely the best time, not only because you didn’t necessarily have to run the risk of being canceled or bullied for reporting mistakes or incompetence. The government has made tangible efforts to consult with voters, as evidenced by the concept of “bottom-up budgeting” or “participatory governance”. Today, who is launching the brilliant idea of ​​dumping dolomite on a beach, apparently a sign of a misplaced priority in times of health crisis?

He was a president who saw the presidency as a timely symbol for conveying all the best messages to Filipinos: we are the bosses.

Finally, from his inaugural speech: “Have you ever been ignored by the very government you helped bring to power?” I have. Have you had to put up with being brutally pushed around by the siren-screaming escorts of those who like to display their position and power over you? I also have. Have you felt exasperation and anger at a government which, instead of serving you, must be endured by you? Me too.”

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