noynoy_flag.jpgIt’s a day later than planned, but the results are in: Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was proclaimed the new president today by the Senate and House of Representatives, with Jejomar Binay as his vice president. According to this article in The Philippine Star, the delay was caused by the deferment of the tallying of votes for Lanao del Sur to yesterday rather than the day before.

That Noynoy won is no surprise; within days of the election, he was being hailed as the President-Apparent, and opponents like Manny Villar had already conceded. Still, now that he’s officially the President-Elect, let’s take a look at the man who will be taking the country’s top position in a matter of months.

President-Elect Noynoy Aquino has two things going for him: (1) his government comes on the heels of what might just be the most disliked administration in recent history, and (2) he’s the son of national hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and beloved former president Corazon “Tita Cory” Aquino.

The first point is something of a safety net—because soon-to-be-former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration is so negatively viewed, few administrations could fail to shine in comparison. The second point is simply a matter of reputation: the pretty much universally favorable regard for Noynoy’s parents have well compensated for the love-hate relationship the public has with his famous sister, Kris, famous for being afflicted with foot-in-mouth disease.


THE KRIS CRISIS

Yes, Kris Aquino is one of the things that Noynoy will have to deal with, given the fact that she's a media personality with dozens of endorsements, and whose every move (and statement) is met with intense scrutiny. So how Noynoy be using the double-edged sword that is Kris’s popularity without being overshadowed by it? After all, the topic of his sister has come up (and sometimes even dominated) during just about every interview Noynoy has given.

Noynoy will be seen as more credible if, in the next six years, we end up seeing and hearing less of any of his sisters (or his parents) now that he’s president. This will help the Philippines see him as an individual and as a president rather than as a son or brother. And the truth is that his decisions need to be seen as being able to stand on their own, and not influenced by what another family member has said about it.


NOYBI WINS THE DAY

It would also seem to be a plus that Noynoy’s running mate, Mar Roxas, lost to Jejomar Binay—working with Roxas, who was initially eyeing the presidency himself, might have invited comparison and questions about Noynoy’s ability to run the nation, whereas Binay is someone who’s known for running a city instead of a whole nation. Noynoy will be given the chance to spread his wings and show the country—and the world—what he can do.


IT ISN’T AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS

noynoy_pep.jpgAnd what can Noynoy do? Other than be simple, of course, which is how he’s sold himself. Of course he can go overboard by wanting to hold office in his private residence, but then again, this, like his smoking habit, has also allowed him to be human.

His major campaign promise was to rid our government of corruption, but that is something much easier said than done. Noynoy will be dealing with a system ingrained with the seniority culture, utang-na-loob sentiment, and a lot of under-the-table dealings. The promise is fantastic, but fulfilling it? There are a few things we want to know—what changes will be made to the system (and will they be made boldly and enforced strongly enough to work), and will this mean Noynoy will be cleaning house and firing corrupt officials and employees?

Another seemingly simple promise that Noynoy’s campaign made was that without corruption, there would be no poverty. We’re not too sure this isn’t a non sequitur or, at least, a bit of a stretch. After all, the causes of our poverty are numerous, and systemic corruption is only one of them. There’s our foreign debt to consider, and how we are financially tied down by our obligations to the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. There’s also the fact that so much money is concentrated in the hands of big capitalists and oligarchies in the country, which is not so much a consequence of corruption as it is of the particular systems we’ve been relying on. So while eradicating corruption is an excellent goal, it will take more than that to pull us out of poverty.

Among the impoverished that Noynoy will have to face are those on his family’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Yes, he has said that he owns very little of that land; at the same time, if he can’t convince his Cojuangco family to be an example to the rest of the big landowners in this country, then how can he convince other major landowners, much less a whole nation, to change their ways?


CHANGE FROM THE TOP DOWN

The path to change that Noynoy has said he will lead us to is one we would all walk gladly. But Noynoy must see that much of that change should come from the middle and upper classes in the country, those of us who must find a new way of dealing with this country’s ills and acquire a renewed sense of nation and nationalism. We need to be inspired toward a goal that that isn’t at all self-centered or just about getting ahead in our individual gains, but also about responsibility—for our nation and the majority we have forgotten to take care of.

This obviously isn’t about dole-outs, but about taking the bull that are this country’s problems by the horns and learning to deal.

Will Noynoy be standing up for the reproductive health bill and, by doing so, give all women their right to their bodies and take the first step towards solving the problem of overpopulation?

Will he be able to prevent the transnational companies that ignore this nation’s holidays (including elections!) and even its labor laws from keeping our young graduates at the mercy of foreign working hours and policies? Will he be able to open up new jobs for our country's increasing population of young and unemployed workers?

Will he be able to discourage our unskilled and skilled workers from going abroad by enabling Philippine wages to compete with those of other countries?

We don’t expect Noynoy to be able to do all this in the six years he’ll be president, but a good hard jumpstart would be an excellent legacy to leave his successor.

Noynoy’s path of change must obviously take these and many other issues and problems along with it. And if there’s anything he’s right about, it’s that we can’t just be along for the ride—national change is a national effort, and we’ll need to do our part too.


(Photo composite on page 1: photo of Noynoy by Jeffrey Avellanosa via Wikimedia Commons + photo of Philippine flag by Mike Gonzalez [The Coffee] via Wikimedia Commons; photo on page 2 courtesy of PEP.ph—edited)

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