The election of Benigno S. Aquino III last May 10, 2010 as the 15th president of the Philippine Republic easily stood out as the political event of the year in the country. It may even be called a political tour de force.
What started out as a rag-tag presidential campaign borne out of the “people power” fervor in the aftermath of his mother’s death became a steamroller by the time of the May 2010 elections. In its wake were left behind the other candidates and, to a certain extent, much of the traditional politics as we know it. If the promises of a solution to the poverty of the people and to the chronic corruption by those in power and their business cronies are actually carried out by the new Aquino government, then a political tour de force would have been accomplished. The march to a modern democratic state and society will be on a surer footing and Aquino will enter the history books alongside his parents.
The political 2010 will be remembered for the automated election system, the credible election of President Noynoy Aquino, the national abhorrence against warlordism and election violence, and the demise of the grossly unpopular Arroyo administration. It has given new impetus for electoral and political reforms and strengthened Philippine democracy to a major extent.
However, the path towards democratic reforms has only been opened. It is also evident that the path will be neither straight nor easy. The remnants of the Arroyo administration, including their midnight and not-so-midnight appointees are putting up a fight, particularly in protecting themselves and their own in the judiciary, in Congress, and in the armed forces, as well in warlord enclaves throughout the country. The role of the two major rebel groups–the CPP and the MILF–is not yet clear enough to say whether they will provide the necessary leeway for democratic reforms or play the spoiler for their own objectives.
Everybody is waiting for the new president to demonstrate his decisiveness in advancing the anti-poverty and anti-corruption reforms he promised in his landslide victory. That he maintained his very high popularity ratings after six months in office speaks of the people’s trust that what he is doing so far is towards these reform goals. The trust ratings also are a commentary on his opposition’s failure in its unforgiving attacks on his administration since day 1.
The next six months will prove decisive to the political fate of the Aquino government. He has to resolve the immediate problems that the past Arroyo administration has given him, including the Arroyo influence in the judiciary, put in place the foundation for his anti-poverty and anti-corruption programs, and produce visible results in alleviating poverty and in combatting entrenched big corruptors. He also has to spell out his whole reform program and vision for the country, develop the long-term political instruments for these, and initiate the necessary political processes to realize these programs and vision.
A political tour de force there was in 2010. It remains to be seen if there will be a historic political tour de force in the long run.