‘Mr. President, something in you has to die’

By Reyn Barnido

This is not anymore about failing to handle the hostage-taking as much as this is about fulfilling the promises of your oath-taking. This is not just about nine people losing their lives, but 90 million citizens losing their national pride. This is not about a singular madman shooting bullets up and down; this is about an orgy of fools shooting lies left and right.

This is not anymore about the negotiators’ inefficiency to convince a police officer to surrender, but the government’s incapacity to comfort a nation. This is not about the police; this is about the presidency.

I have visions of you staring at your breakfast table, unmindful for the first time of the tempting plate of sizzling chicharon and frozen bottle of Coke regular, and asking yourself, “where did I go wrong?” as you blow heart-shaped smokes in the air. That is wishful thinking, I know. Chances are, you chomp on the chicharon with gusto as you invent new excuses in your mind.

Mr. President, we did not switch from cheerleaders to cynics because of a singular incident caused by a madman. Our process was a metamorphosis catalyzed by a series of excuses and inconsistencies over the past two months. They don’t paint you as a man in control; rather they portray a group of helpless officials in utter disarray like rats scrambling from the basement of a burning building. You are the hub of a bunch of incompetent fools whose idea of honesty is withholding the truth until someone slips and whose interpretation of transparency is to let the media and the public wrestle the facts from their mouths like fishes dangling from hooks.

This is not a flaw in the character of your administration; this inefficiency has become your defining trait.

We don’t deserve this, Sir. This is not the covenant we entered into during your oath-taking. Now, since you don’t have the time to reflect, I will help you articulate some of the lessons that you should learn about your administration. Understand that I am taking your word when you said that we are your bosses. So, pay attention:

Your Dream Team of a Cabinet is really just that they excel in dreaming.

You craft your government strategy based on high-brow vision statements which your team built like castles in the sand. But there never was a concrete strategy to transform the nation. From visions you get inspiration, but only from well-crafted strategy will you get confidence and courage to govern. Inspiration melts in the face of a crisis situation. Rebuild your team, for there never was a team to begin with.

I grew up in the shadows of the Abads, Soliman, Deles — the patriarch and matriarchs of your administration. From them I learned everything alternative when I was a student leader: alternative education, alternative lifestyle, alternative politics, alternative Christmas, alternative governance. Do not take their analysis of society at face value for theirs is a construct designed to fuel a protest movement, not manage a large bureaucracy. Do your own analysis and dialogue this with those prescribed by your consultants and mentors.

Having a BFF for an Executive Secretary only helps you in trusting the man’s loyalty, it doesn’t mean he can be trusted with the deliverables. You talked about the importance of training our police force and yet you brought in an inexperienced and untrained man to become the Little President? The Cabinet, Sir, as my friend Trixie once said, is not a training ground. I have no problem if women and wine are his coping mechanisms; but to be seen in public doing that while people are hurting reminds us of Nero fiddling while Rome was burning.

Your Communications Team was impressive when you were still running for the position. They were excellent in writing fiction; communicating the truth is a different discipline altogether. And they might not be the right men for the task, considering that they don’t even communicate among themselves. And Sir, this is not just about the Black Monday; they have been sending apologies since Day 1. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Jesse Robredo, God bless his soul, is a good man. He was an excellent Mayor. But his glaring ineptitude was exposed during these last few days. He never had any experience nor exposure on the national level, Sir. If you find his contribution indispensable, just create a new office, like Presidential Assistant for Municipal Affairs or something.

Come out from the protective shell, Mr. President. Do not be afraid to be caught in the line of fire for it is the sacred space where your salvation can happen.

I hope you realize that DEATH is a key element in your life journey as a man and as a leader. A year ago, the death of your mother fuelled a national movement that catapulted you from being Kris’ brother to a president. A year later, the death of nine victims fuelled a nationwide disgust that can bring you down from the pedestal to a pigsty where years of eating chicharon will be avenged.

Do not be afraid, for something in you has to die so that the real Noynoy will emerge better and wiser.

Embrace the Black Monday as your Good Friday, Mr. President. Do not resist the crucifixion for as our faith tells us it is the only way to a new life. Yours and ours.

Believe it or not, your cheerers may have become cynics, but they are still your companions in this journey. I, for one, will not abandon you Mr. President.