AS YOU HAVE heard and confirmed from this morning, former President Benigno S. Aquino III has passed away; he was 61.
By now, this heartbreaking news has triggered a turning point — mostly, turning to a feeling of nostalgia — in dealing with the final year of his successor and what to do come May 9, 2022 (less than 11 months from now).
And I know, some of you remained indoctrinated to negate and disown him with all your hearts, minds and souls through the news feeds. You probably have demonized him by emphasizing his negative engagement during his tenure from the bus hostage in Manila to Mamasapano.
Let’s set straight about him amidst all of this.
Former President Noynoy Aquino continued to enhance the growth of our economy after the Great Recession and put the Philippines brightly on the map as he persistently believed.
Noynoy may not have been a good legislator but as President, he signed significant, consequential pieces of legislation such as Reproductive Health Law, K-12 and the Cybercrime Prevention Act. He even signed a sin tax that imposed a levy on vices like his — cigarettes; which served as a precursor and model to other tax laws (like TRAIN and CREATE) now in force. He made a better peace process in Mindanao by replacing ARMM with the Bangsamoro Basic Law (now Bangsamoro Organic Law); he could’ve done it ahead of time had it not been for Mamasapano. He would have pushed the Freedom of Information Act — for fair and reasonable transparency in dealings with the government — but it always left out on every SONA he delivered.
Speaking of SONA, his use of graphics — made by his social media team under his chief, Manuel L. Quezon III — was professional and awesome to behold. The Official Gazette on Facebook wouldn’t be the same without his team.
Many of you have remarked on him for immaturity — primarily due to finger-pointing his predecessor for the faults that he had inherited. Unlike the ruling incumbent, he knew how to behave with other heads of states and governments and earned much respect from the international community. If you want proof, look at the time when we hosted APEC Summit on his final full calendar year (2015).
It was he who established the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2014. It was intended to monitor and prevent, at that time, Ebola and MERS-CoV from entering our shores; it was successful and more respectable than the present composition and their current handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, if any positive attribution can we agree about him on, it’s about dealing the sovereignty in our territorial waters against a hegemonic, trying-hard superpower. He sent the claims to an international court and we won. The lesson from that is we must uphold it and go beyond.
During his six years, our news coverage was not as tumultuous as we have now. His spokespersons didn’t gaslight or spin every day so that Joseph Morong wouldn’t have a problem crunching bullet points with it. Given the environs of this blog, the national television industry under his watch was very peaceful: less intervention, no major player shutdown (that he didn’t like) and manageable dealing of chaos within and without the walls of the networks.
If you’re not convinced of what I’ve written, you would probably admit this: Your political worldviews and principles — no matter where you’re with him or against him back then — would not be formed and probably solidified without him.
Here at Timow’s Turf, I joined with the rest of the Filipino people in expressing sincere condolences to the Aquino family in these times.