PRESIDENT AQUINO: SAINTHOOD POSTPONED
This is the best book about former President Cory Aquino’s ways of governance resulting in regression, vengeance, and her tolerance for incompetence and corruption among her cronies and relatives. To make this happen, she had to double-cross all those who brought her to power. Her actions were all motivated by pique, pride or prejudice, which she robed in pious sanctimony by raising the flag of righteous indignation.
President Cory Aquino’s pious and do-gooder image; heralded with fanfare; became the bastion of her administration. This gave birth to the “Yellow Cult” that dominated our political landscape for more than three decades after 1986. The author asserts that “Never has one nation judged another’s leader so inaccurately: they believed they had found a saint, but in the end found her just another sinner.”
She entered politics as a saint and left as a sinner.
(The author was a former US diplomat, historian, former Consul General of the US Embassy in Manila, and author of several books several books about Philippine politics: President Marcos and the Philippine Political Culture, Dissolving the Colonial Bond: American Ambassadors to the Philippines (1964-1984,) and Americans on the Philippine Frontiers.)
Excerpt from, President Aquino: Sainthood Postponed, by Lewis E. Gleeck, Jr.
On re-reading my manuscript, I realize I have written what some readers may feel is too critically of President Aquino. I make no apology for my judgements. I welcomed her proclamation as president in February 1986, as I welcomed the Marcose‘s departure, miraculously without bloodshed, from the Philippines. I regretted several of Mrs. Aquino’s first acts (liberation of Communists from jail”, the “liberation” of Marcos family assets by cronies and relatives, etc.), but I kept an open mind until November 1986, when she fired her Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, who had convinced a reluctant General Fidel Ramos to join him in a military mutiny. This made it possible for street demonstrators to sweep Mrs. Aquino into power. Cory’s defenders claimed that Ponce Enrile was contemplating a coup. If he was, it was a reﬂex action. From her first days in power, Cory had been scheming to get rid of him.
I am also no believer in the myth of Ninoy Aquino as a champion of Democracy. I knew him too well. I deplored his assassination not only because it was evil and despicable, but still more because it converted into a hero, rather than the martyred macho he actually was.
Finally, I am firmly convinced that a government cannot perform adequately if its basic reason d ’etre is revenge. I am not so Christian as to believe that such sentiment is never justiﬁed but revenge, as a basis of government, covers up ﬂaws in both the policies and performance of government. Hatred can so deform thinking that anything that the dethroned Monster has done must be seen to be Evil, and its opposite, Good. This was the rationale of Palace policies for the entire six-plus years of the Aquino government.
In sum, I regard the presidential term of Corazon Aquino, Ninoy’s widow, as not only a failure, but in the end, a regression comparable to the worst days of the Marcos regime (August 13, 1983 to February 26, 1986). As a consequence, my one book has become two separated, but overall, bearing the judgement: Corazon Aquinos Failed Presidency.
To American Readers:
Cory Aquino, choreographed in 1986 as a saint by the world media and championed by the American government, ﬂashed like a meteor through the heavens for two years, but failing to capture the coveted Nobel Prize, quickly sputtered to earth. During the next four years, she was sustained in ofﬁce largely through the efforts of the United States, which fell victim to its own delusion that it was supporting a saint who would lead the authoritarian-oppressed nations of the world to an American-style democracy. This was a triumph of ideological commitment, a vision without the slightest historical basis, as Carlos P. Romulo, the world’s best-known Filipino, had earlier pointed out. Asia preferred strong, if necessary authoritarian, leaders.
Mrs. Aquino was also not only inexperienced but untalented, a victim of a grossly-oversimplified view of democracy, which in her mind seemed to consist of anything that ran counter to the acts of the Marcos government, some of whose practices and policies were sound and effective. Since Marcos had been a strong leader, Cory abdicated leadership in favor of playing, ﬁrst, chairman of a mediocre Board which could never agree, and then reached Kaffeeklatsch [an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation] decisions among her own cronies, whose husbands occupied ofﬁcial positions which they consistently mismanaged. Mrs. Aquino tolerated total incompetence or corruption in her ministries and though repeatedly promising to correct anomalies, just as repeatedly reneged, blindly clinging to cronies and relatives.
In the process, the President double-crossed all those who had brought her to power: Laurel, who brought her a party machine without which she could not have run; Enrile, without whom there would have been no mutiny (Ramos had to be convinced); Roces, the man who had managed a campaign for signatures urging her to run; Ongpin, the man who had made her regime acceptable to the international bankers; Executive Secretary Orbo‘s, who created the only favorable Palace rapport with the public; her party’s leader (Mitra) who had managed to see passed most of her legislative proposals; and the Cardinal, who wanted Fernan, a Catholic of good reputation to succeed her, while she insisted on the colorless, indecisive Ramos. Such a listing is by no means complete; it overlooks the man who organized her dead husband’s politically effective parade, and many others. In the end, Mrs. Aquino was stripped as naked as Lady Godiva, betraying her most faithful supporter the United States, which had believed that she would offer some leadership in mobilizing public support for a policy which most of her people wanted (the bases).
None of these betrayals could be attributed to principle; they were all motivated by pique, pride or prejudice, which she robed in pious sanctimony. Never has one nation judged another’s leader so inaccurately: they believed they had found a saint, but in the end found her just another sinner.