POSTSCRIPT / May 18, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Mar has only himself to blame for debacle

NOYNOY COUP: If he wants, Sen. Noynoy Aquino (Liberal Party) could pull a stunning coup by announcing after his proclamation as president-elect that he would follow tradition and take his oath before newly installed Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Why not? That unfortunate remark that he would not recognize the Chief Justice appointed by outgoing President Arroyo was just a product of negativist advice and a spillover of the venom of the just concluded campaign.

In fact, by this time Aquino should be talking magnanimously, and sincerely, about binding the wounds and bringing together the contending camps instead of continuing to emit noises about pressing on the fight (“laban”).

Tapos na po ang laban. May nanalo na po — kayo!

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LOSS OF FACE?: Would that not be a big loss of face? Certainly not. It would even be a double victory – achieved by offering his hand to his erstwhile rivals after trouncing them in an election that was generally considered fair and square.

Would his advisers allow him to do that? Those of them who want to monopolize the spoils of victory would object as they feel threatened with every hint of reconciliation.

But the more enlightened elements in Aquino’s inner circle should accept it as an auspicious first step in a perilous six-year term.

How will Aquino perform this 180-degree turn-around?

There are many ways. One straightforward way, which I prefer, is for him to simply step forward and announce it (after his proclamation by the Congress) without advance notice to anyone.

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ANOTHER SCRIPT: If Aquino advisers who want to manage him in perpetuity warn that he would suffer a loss of face by recognizing Chief Justice Corona, and the president-elect wants to play along for a while, here is another way:

1. After the Congress proclaims him winner, he thanks the people and goes into a retreat, possibly in the same Carmelite convent where he went to seek divine guidance and gather his thoughts about running for president after the death of his mother Cory.

2. Three days later, Aquino emerges relaxed and smiling, obviously cleansed of the stress and bitterness inflicted by an overload of politics.

3. He then talks extemporaneously about his decision arrived at during his retreat. He says simply that, yes, he will take his oath at noon of June 30 before Chief Justice Renato Corona.

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CONCILIATORY: The President-elect will not, and does not have to, explain too elaborately, except to say that the decision dawned on him after prayer and discernment.

Near-pandemonium ensues, but what we hear will be mostly the excited expression of relief by a nation weighing the question of whether the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino who has been anointed president would unite or continue to divide us.

By that simple statement about accepting Corona, he would be answering the question. He would be saying in effect that he would never allow this nation to be divided, that he would lead a united Philippines to peace and prosperity guided by Divine Providence.

This conciliatory move has more positive impact than the showbizzy plan of advisers hooked to the opiate of discord (“laban!”) for him to take the presidential oath of office before a barangay captain.

It is high time that we matured and broke away from showbiz and its stunting effects.

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NOY-BI COMING: As I write this, the radio is saying that Makati Mayor Jojo Binay (Puersa ng Masang Pilipino) is leading Sen. Mar Roxas (Liberal Party) in the vice presidential derby by around 800,000 votes with some 90 percent of the votes tallied.

It looks like the Philippines is on its way to having its first black Vice President.

If this comes to pass, Roxas has nobody else to blame but himself. Pulled up by the high wave whipped up by the surge of his presidential partner (Aquino) Roxas apparently grew over-confident unaware or unmindful of the shadowy Binay creeping up on him.

In the Culiculi street lingo of Binay, Roxas was caught “natutulog sa pansitan” (“napping in the noodle house”).

The disarray in the LP camp accentuates the fact that the Aquino-Roxas partnership was only a political marriage of convenience. The union was not meant to last.

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JUNKING GAME: Looking for an excuse for the impending disaster, Roxas strategists now accuse Aquino of junking his VP partner.

If anybody junked Roxas, it was the voters who did. Obviously, many Aquino followers preferred maka-masa (mass-oriented) Binay to elitist Roxas.

Remember that Roxas aiming for the presidency was originally languishing in the fourth or fifth place in the surveys – until he slid down to the VP slot and Aquino was drafted as the LP standard bearer.

With Aquino leading the LP ticket, the Liberals picked up, pulling up Roxas till he overtook all his rivals and even started to rate higher than Aquino. At that point, Roxas must have thought he was a sure winner – and, I think, grew complacent.

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DELUSIONS: Insiders said that the Roxas household and strategists were even entertaining thoughts that Aquino might just flounder near the finish line, with Roxas being proclaimed Vice President before a conclusive score is reached in the presidential count.

The thought of Roxas possibly being acting president while the country awaited Aquino’s fate further added to the Cubao household’s overconfidence.

But the opposite — a sure Aquino victory and a possible Roxas defeat – now looms bigger.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 18, 2010)

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