No compassion

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How sweet it is, the old, ironic Spanish proverb tells us, to do nothing and then to rest afterwards. And it is truly ironic that the President whose biggest supposed failing is a very visible lack of a work ethic is taking a holiday break from work.

 

President Noynoy Aquino has, after all, been accused of many things. But “workaholism” is never going to be one of them.

And Aquino goes into his holiday recess, which he will spend doing God knows what, after leaving us with a gem of a quote, to the effect that he welcomes all the problems that have been besetting the nation because life would be “boring” without them. With a President like this, you can’t blame people for praying that Aquino takes a permanent vacation.

Why can’t we have a President who isn’t bored because he’s always working? What an excellent Christmas gift that would be.

•••

One thing’s for sure: Aquino is never, ever going to work at showing compassion for his predecessor by, say, doing what Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada did when the latter visited Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in her hospital detention cell. Aquino is simply not as compassionate as Estrada or as willing to forgive.

Aquino’s mouthpieces tried very hard to spin Estrada’s visit to Arroyo, saying that they do not have any information if Aquino is going to pay her a similar call. But a small recent incident is all the proof anyone needs – if proof is still required—that any display of compassion or even humanity from Aquino towards Arroyo is not going to happen.

Last week, for just one night, the Armed Forces of the Philippines held a wake for recently deceased AFP Chief of Staff General Delfin Bangit at the military’s headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. But the real story was that the abbreviated Aguinaldo wake for Bangit—who, as a former head of the military, should be given the courtesy according to military tradition—almost didn’t happen.

When the relatives of Bangit, including his elder brother Reynaldo, also a retired general, first asked the AFP hierarchy to host the wake, they were told that it couldn’t be done. Subordinates of current AFP chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista told the Bangits that the area where such ceremonies were usually held was being used for an ongoing exhibit.

But according to sources in Aguinaldo, Bautista was under orders not to hold a wake or any military ceremony for Bangit, who had an abbreviated stint as AFP chief because he was forced to retire by Aquino in 2010. Bangit was closely identified with Arroyo—who appointed him to the top military post right before her term ended that year.

It was only after Bautista was informed that a group of retired high-level military officers was grumbling about the apparent vindictiveness that the Aquino administration wanted so hard to show with regard to Bangit even after his death that the wake was allowed. But for one night only.

Of course, had Bautista and his boss in Malacanang not realized that they could literally be playing with fire if they let politics trump military tradition, they would not have allowed the wake at all. Such is the 24/7 partisanship of this administration that it will even seek to deprive the military of its non-political tradition of honoring dead former chiefs of staff, just to show that a dead top soldier was a political enemy.

So Edwin Lacierda and Sonny Coloma can just stop trying to deceive the people that Aquino may try to show that he can forgive Arroyo. No one, at this late date and after all the demonizing of Arroyo by Aquino, believes that will ever happen.

Oh, and by the way, I really feel sorry for those people still under the spell of Aquino’s vindictive, take-no-prisoners brand of politics who see an Estrada-Arroyo conspiracy a-borning with the meeting of the two ex-Presidents. It’s scary when some people become as paranoid as their idol, to the point where they see visions of great political forces being ranged against the incumbent, when Erap just made a compassionate gesture by visiting his former political foe.

•••

Aquino went ahead with his plan to inaugurate (for the second time) the Gerona-to-Paniqui portion of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) yesterday. Mercifully, he did not claim that the ongoing 88.85-kilometer toll road project was a part of his centerpiece Public Private Partnership program, as earlier planned.

But Aquino could not resist describing the toll road as an early Christmas gift to the people (“maagang aguinaldo sa taong-bayan”) even if his administration had absolutely nothing to do with TPLEx, apart from the ministerial and regulatory functions that any government is committed to do for such privately-funded schemes. And even if that woman in charge of the PPP Center was in attendance (a hint that some credit-grabbing was being planned), Aquino did not acknowledge her presence.

 

Next time, Aquino and his minions should make sure that they will claim credit only for stuff they really did do. That way, they won’t have to inaugurate projects that have already been inaugurated - and the President won’t get too exhausted from working.