MALAYBALAY CITY (01 July) – Benigno S. Aquino III’s victory in the 2010 presidential elections and the events that unfolded afterward highlighted on one hand the Filipino’s desire for change, and on the other, his general inability to go beyond electing a supposedly good leader. It was a decision, however, that rested on a tenuous basis: his being the son of his great parents. The other significant criteria for the highest post of the land gave way to the presumed power of genes to transmit not just physical and intellectual traits but also the ability to lead – and lead well – the country.

So consumed were the voters by the sheer symbolic force of Aquino’s candidacy they hardly paid attention to his management experience – if he had any – and other pertinent issues. The images of his late parents loomed much, much larger than all the others that his opponents tried to paint across the political canvas. He could have used colors other than yellow. He could have told Kris and his other sisters to stay away from the campaign trail. And all these would not have mattered as long as the sober look of his father and the smiling face of his mother remained in the backdrop.

Looking back, part of the reason could be that not one of Aquino’s rivals remotely represented a leader who could be the opposite of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her marauding ways. Senator Manuel Villar in particular had been weighed down by the C-5 controversy and the “Villaroyo” issue. Then senator Richard Gordon is untainted with charges of malfeasance as a public official, but like the other contenders, he lacked charisma and media mileage which the country’s two biggest TV networks gave to Aquino on a silver platter even before the filing of certificates of candidacy started.

Even so-called civil society groups fell for the presumption that all it takes is genetics to cure our body politic. The supposed leading advocates of instilling political maturity also embraced cult worship. Maybe they were right in campaigning for Aquino. But the core issue is that the election remained largely a personality war even if valid issues surfaced in the accompanying discourse. Aquino the candidate was presented as the cure-all alternative mainly because of his parents’ credentials.

While at it, those groups did not seem to notice the disturbing signs that had been there from the start. Note the presence of last-minute turncoats and opportunists who eventually landed in powerful posts in the Aquino government, chief among them the members of the Hyatt 10, that clique of former Arroyo cabinet officials who abandoned her at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal wrongly thinking that their move would led to Arroyo’s ouster and for which they would become heroes overnight. Also note how easily politicians like Ralph Recto jumped over to the Aquino camp after resigning as cabinet secretary to get better chances of becoming senator again after losing his reelection bid in 2007. He is one Recto who is definitely not Claro.

In other words, PNoy started on the wrong foot even before he became president by accommodating the wrong persons and choosing to turn a blind eye on their true intentions. He played the usual trapo game – or perhaps played into the hands of trapos, if he is not a trapo himself – when he could have chosen to dictate the rules with the amount of popularity he enjoyed then.

The opportunists and other questionable personalities would continue to come and strew PNoy’s “matuwid na daan” with the garbage of their past and present misdeeds. Look at the Land Transportation Office. Look at the Commission on Elections. And you’d wish you hadn’t seen or known these things. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at