Jojo A. Robles

‘Boy Scout’ Aquino

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To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzche, finding out that you’ve been told a lie isn’t as bad as realizing that you can no longer believe in the person who lied to you. And when the liar pretends to be an upright person, it’s that much worse.

 

I’ve been asked if I find nothing wrong with President “Boy Scout” Aquino sleeping in a tent when he visited Bohol province recently when he actually didn’t, as some people in the social networks have alleged. My initial response to the question is, what does it matter where Aquino sleeps – or even who he sleeps with?

If Aquino felt he had to go all the way to Bohol, where the recent earthquake caused so much misery and devastation, to get forty winks under the stars, that’s not really a story. Except, of course, if you’re a Palace propagandist who reflexively tries to impart a positive spin on every little cute, populist thing that Aquino does.

More troubling to me is the accusation of presidential prevarication lobbed at Aquino by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying. Hua, reacting to Aquino’s statement before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines that he did not discuss the killing of a bunch of Hong Kong tourists three years ago in Manila with Chinese Premier Li Kequiang at the sidelines of the recent Apec summit in Brunei, said the President told Focap “an outright lie.”

“I have already briefed journalists on Oct. 11 about Premier Li Keqiang’s short discussion with President Aquino on the Hong Kong hostage incident in Brunei,” Hua said. “[Li] hopes that the Philippines can treat the matter seriously and offer a fair and reasonable solution as soon as possible [while] President Aquino pledged to carry on with relevant investigation[s] and properly handle the incident.”

Now that was truly a painful sight, that of a mere low-level Chinese bureaucrat calling out the leader of our own country for lying in public. However, if Aquino was really telling the truth, it’s safe to say that a Chinese ministry spokesman wouldn’t even dream of calling him a liar.

This is not about a powerful nation bullying a smaller, weaker neighbor, as Aquino’s flacks always say when they talk about our tenuous relationship with China (a situation, by the way, that Aquino almost single-handedly caused). This is about telling a lie – and getting caught red-handed for it.

Still, to me, if Aquino can lie to an entire roomful of foreign correspondents about his discussion with Li, why can’t he lie about sleeping in a tent in Bohol? And how can anyone really believe that Aquino possesses all the virtues he professes to have, if he cannot even tell the truth to a gathering of reporters?

Besides, why did Aquino feel that he needed to lie about meeting Li anyway? And did he actually think that he could get away with that?

But lying about sleeping in a tent is one thing. Playing fast and loose with the facts about meeting the head of another country is just, in a word, idiotic.

* * *

Former Senator Panfilo Lacson, as a prominent ally of Malacañang, must certainly have known about “the dark side”  of the Aquino administration, as he calls it. Lacson struck a nerve when he told the Philippine Constitution Association that the government cannot justify burying its citizens in debt when it also claims to have billions upon billions in savings.

Lacson accused the Aquino government of perpetuating greed and corruption when it used purported savings to fund projects identified by legislators through pork barrel funds, all while the Philippines continued to pile up debt that he estimated at around P5 trillion. And Lacson, who never used his pork barrel funds during his entire term as a senator, has the credibility to talk about the allocations that Malacañang has been freely giving Congress.

New presidential spokesman Sonny Coloma was quick to say that Lacson can say whatever he wants. However, it’s safe to say that Lacson has now said goodbye to any plans he may have had about being named to an appointive government office under this administration.

Lacson, after all, cannot be expected to remain on the good side (never mind if it’s really the dark side) of Aquino now that the former senator has joined the growing chorus of people who are openly against the government’s misuse of pork barrel funds. But perhaps, for Lacson, there is really nothing to be gained anymore from being an ally of Malacañang, now that more and more people have become outraged by the money politics practiced by its occupant.

This is not to say, of course, that Lacson has gone over to the other side merely for political self-preservation. Anyone with half a brain will be able to come to the conclusion that this supposedly virtuous President was a little too loose with the taxpayers’ money that he’s been entrusted with.

What I am saying is that Aquino may soon run out of the political allies he will desperately need when push comes to shove. And when that happens, he will only have himself to blame – except that Aquino has never been know to accept blame for anything.

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