By Mariano Santos, PINOY Publisher/Editor
The dog days of August” is an expression often used to describe the lazy days of summer. In the newsrooms, exciting events are far in between. But not last month.
Our printer was quick to charge us extra when we literally ask them to stop the press to be able to include the story of the passing of former President of the Philippine Corazon C. Aquino. Our cover saw an extreme makeover, relegating a much awaited photo-op of President Arroyo with US President Barack Obama at the White House to a secondary slot—giving way to the images of the developing news story of Cory in Manila.
Though the Aquinos rejected a State funeral, Cory’s last rites were nothing short of a state event. But how do we really show a genuine respect for the legacy of Cory? By an agonizing 10-hour funeral procession? Making her son, a lackluster senator, elected president next year? Filipinos are an emotional people. Many times it works to our disadvantage. Veteran Journalist Amando Doronila came out with a rational analysis in the Aug. 24th edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer about this important issue. I am giving way to his opinion which I believe should help us all as a people. His Analysis” follows:
A gory tale of 2 dynasties
As an immediate upshot of the tremendous outpouring of popular grief over the death of former President Corazon Aquino, a movement has sprung to draft Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to run for either president or vice president in the May 2010 election.
The movement rides on the crest of the tidal wave of nostalgia for the legacy of public service left by Noynoy’s parents—Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and President Cory Aquino.
The country has not witnessed a more massive adulation for any Filipino political dynasty than the Aquino mania that swept the land in the wake of Cory’s death.
The undercurrent pushing the draft for Noynoy, however, has opened a rift in the Liberal Party between Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who is running for president under the LP banner in 2010, and those pushing Noynoy to lead the party in the election.
The nostalgia following Cory Aquino’s funeral has thrust a heavy mantle of expectations on Noynoy’s shoulders as the heir to the Aquino family legacy—a burden many fear Noynoy might not live up to fulfill.
The death of Cory Aquino on Aug. 1 was followed within three weeks by the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983.
By sheer coincidence, Aug. 21 was also the 38th anniversary of the grenade bombing of the Liberal Party rally at Plaza Miranda, the Philippines’ equivalent of London’s Hyde Park.
Cory is a sequel to Ninoy’s martyrdom, which set the stage for the “People Power” revolution, and Cory’s ascent to the presidency, a trophy that Ninoy sought assiduously but that eluded him.
During their time, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were described by the late journalist Primitivo Mijares in his book as the “conjugal dictatorship.”
Ninoy and Cory are being held up for conjugal sanctification in the nation’s hall of heroes and idols who had championed Philippine democracy.
The Liberal Party (LP), one of two surviving parties of pre-martial law Philippine democracy, commemorated Aug. 21 with a reunion of the survivors of the Plaza Miranda bombing.
Former Sen. Jovito Salonga, the LP elder statesman and one of the most severely wounded survivors of the bombing, led the commemoration in which the LP found itself in disarray over whether it should have a Roxas-Aquino team in 2010 or vice versa—now a contentious issue in an election that is still seeking and awaiting the emergence of a dramatic dark horse who could set the nation on fire to new heights of hope.
The nation is craving for a new messiah leading a political renewal, such as Cory Aquino in the Feb. 7, 1986, “snap” election and Ramon Magsaysay in the 1953 election.
Man of the hour?
Is Noynoy such the man of the hour in 2010? This is the question that looms large following the euphoric nostalgia over Cory Aquino’s People Power Revolution and Ninoy Aquino’s assassination in 1983.
Even the Liberal Party has no answers to these issues and is divided. The LP found itself stuck in the effort to maintain party unity.
Eddie Ilarde, a former senator and one of those wounded in the Plaza Miranda bombing, agreed with Salonga that Roxas and Noynoy should team up. “Noynoy and Mar should work together because they are both fruits of good trees,” Ilarde said.
“They should join forces for the sake of the country and of progress. Many people have said that it would be good for Noynoy to run for a higher position,” Salonga said. “But I don’t know whether he is determined to run for the presidency,” he added.
Salonga said he preferred Roxas to run for president.
Shaping Philippines’ destiny
Noynoy himself is evasive and not encouraging a draft.
In a privilege speech on August 19, Noynoy said: “To those of us who even prod us to continue the work of our parents by seeking higher office, we can only offer in reply our parents’ gentle reminder that the destiny of our country cannot be shaped by one family alone. Of all the things that I have learned from my father and mother, what I value most is the virtue of humility in the eyes of our Creator.”
This statement is in contrast to Roxas’ determination to run for president and whose backers have insisted that Noynoy should play second fiddle to Roxas.
There is a growing consensus that a Roxas-Aquino combination is a formidable team. That there is a growing public debate examining Noynoy’s qualifications for the presidency that the movement to draft him has triggered is proof that the public is considering seriously an Aquino run for the presidency.
Whether the movement would eventually lead to a Roxas-Aquino or the other way around, (1) there is now a clash between the Roxas and the Aquino political dynasties; or (2) there is a possibility of the fusion of two powerful dynasties in the country.
Dynastic rule undemocratic
Dynastic rule left a mixed result in running a country. It is an undemocratic method of political transition. We remain hostages to dynasties which are oligarchic or autocratic in nature.
Perpetuation of dynasties means that institutions underpinning orderly transition are not working.
The Liberal Party is trying to put its leadership back in the hands of its dynasties. In doing so, it is moving toward the restoration of the two-party system of the premartial law era, which was marked by a period of political stability for 26 years.
Whether or not Roxas or Aquino are “fruits of good dynasties” that would give us good and honest government, we would never know until they are in power.
Ted Kennedy and the Aquinos
As we go to press, The US “Senate Lion” succumbed to brain tumor. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died August 26 after 46 years serving as US Senator from Massachusetts. Sen. Kennedy was on the frontline of civil rights causes espousing racial equality, health care reform and fighting unjust wars like the Viet Nam and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
For Filipinos, we claim him to be our genuine American ally. He was a consistent critic of the US support of the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. It is appropriate that in the three years that Ninoy and Cory Aquino lived as exiles with their children, it would be in Boston that they had chosen to reside.
Ninoy went to Harvard to study—where else?—but the John F. Kennedy School of Public administration and Policy. When I visit the place last June 13, I had Ninoy and Kennedys in mind. Though, Ted Kennedy was instrumental in bringing Ninoy before the US Congressional Committees to testify on how US aid and the presence of the US military bases in the Philippines were used by the Marcos Regime to oppress the Filipino people, Ninoy grew increasingly impatient on the slowness of the restoration of the democratic rights in his homeland.
When he and his family came to the US, Ronald Reagan, a dear friend of the Marcoses was the White House tenant. That Republican Administration effectively marginalized Ninoy and the reluctant exile knew that. Thus, he once uttered to us anti-martial law activists in the US that he was better of being killed for a worthy cause in the Philippines than being senselessly bumped off by a taxicab in Boston.
Ted Kennedy spoke often and harshly of the US support to the Marcoses. Reagan in contrast even accused the Cory Aquino camp of cheating in the snap elections of 1986. The freedom-loving Filipinos owe Sen. Edward M. Kennedy an enduring gratitude for his support to our people during the dark days of the martial law years and to all civil rights causes that made this world a better place to live.•