he passage of time has a way of distilling reality and bringing out truths that are sometimes hidden or lost by present circumstances. Case in point is the overwhelming level of admiration many Filipinos have for former President Corazon Aquino. When she passed away in 2009, the entire nation seemed beside itself in grief. Her casket was mobbed by thousands of mourners as it slowly made its way through the streets of Metro Manila to its final resting place at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque.
Large numbers of Filipinos still admire her but we believe that number will continually diminish over time as emotions fade away and a more studied assessment of her presidency is undertaken. In fact we predict that over time her presidency will be seen as more of a failure than a success.
Let's go back to late February, 1986 when Filipinos started amassing along EDSA in front of Camp Crame to create a human shield around the rebel leaders who were finally defying a corrupt dictator who had brutalized his people for almost twenty years. By the 25th of February an estimated three million people were along EDSA stranding in front of tanks and preventing them from moving forward. While no one was killed that day, all those brave souls on EDSA knew that had Marcos or his lackey, General Fabian Ver given the order to attack, they would have been trampled by the tanks or mowed-down by machine-gun fire. Still they stood their ground. And where was Cory Aquino during all this? Hiding in a convent in Cebu.
When the Marcoses fled and Aquino was sworn into office, the Filipino people had given her extraordinary powers that even Marcos never dreamed he could ever attain. Filipinos handed over on a silver platter a revolutionary government that gave Aquino all the power and authority of government. She had no congressional or judicial branches to contend with—she called all the shots.
She could have changed the Philippines the way on one—past or present—ever could. She could have jailed all involved in the plunder and human rights violations of the Marcos regime. She could have de-fanged the oligarchy and redistributed wealth. She could even have gotten to the bottom of who killed her husband Ninoy.
Instead she accomplished none of those. She wasted a golden opportunity to lift the country out of its morass and turn it into a vibrant forward-looking country made up of equals. The special powers that the Filipino people gave Cory Aquino with the EDSA revolution will likely never again be offered to any other Filipino president.
Ninety-five years from now, when the 100th death anniversary of Cory Aquino comes around, Filipinos of that future era will no longer have the personal or emotional attachment to Cory Aquino that Filipinos of today have. All they will have to go by are the facts. And based on those facts they will likely conclude—as we have—that Cory Aquino was indeed a failure as president.
Cory Aquino's eventual fall from grace which we predict, should serve as a warning to all who seek the highest office in the land. A kind heart and good intentions will never be enough to get one a free pass. A president must deliver or he or she will be considered a failure. Sometimes not immediately but over time, Filipinos further removed from the emotional ties of the moment will pass the final judgment as to whether one was a success or failure as president. Published 08/7/2014