MINDA DA NEWS: Just the Speeches, Not the Writers

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) – “Neat!” would be how an African-American might react to a May 27 Philippine Daily Inquirer story headlined, “Aquino unhappy with speeches, not writers”, with its two lead paragraphs reiterating, “He has junked the speeches but not the speech writers” and “While President Aquino has been candid about his badly written speeches, his spokespersons have seen no displeasure on the part of their boss, or so they say.”

This is like saying, “He is unhappy with the food but not with the cook,” or, “The father is unhappy with his daughter’s behavior but is not displeased with her” explaining that “she sees no displeasure from him.”

This is how deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte cavalierly dismissed a Philippine Star report on May 26, headlined, “Noy unhappy with communications group? In that story, the Star observed, “President Aquino seems unhappy about the performance of his communications group including his speechwriters” because, referring to the speeches, “The message just isn’t getting across.” The Star report was on the President’s speech to a prayer assembly in Pasig City last May 24.

The President addressed the “Care for Philippines Prayer Assembly on the Occasion of the Global Discipleship Congress of the Christ’s Commission Foundation, Inc. and K4 Philippines Intercessors Movement.” Of his speech he said: “If you will notice I had the teleprompter removed. I am not actually happy with the speech. I don’t know if it’s becoming a tradition that every time I appear before you, I find the speech prepared by my normally gifted speechwriters is inadequate.”

He explained: “So, since waking up and on the way here, I have been drafting a speech. So it will tend to be disorganized and I apologize in advance. And, of course, somehow I may have had the impression that I would be talking primarily to Filipinos, it turns out that there are delegations from about 20 different countries present today – 60 (sic) plus countries. So that means I had to rewrite the speech that I was drafting because it was in Filipino. So again if there are errors, they are solely mine.”

The Star, in that May 26 report, cited the President admitting in his prayer assembly speech “that he would sometimes ask if his administration’s communication strategy has been effective enough to be understood by the people” and wondering “why the good things [he had done] were not being appreciated by the public.” Obviously, he was referring to his many other speeches.

Why must the President, for writing his own speech and revising it in his car, apologize to his audience with delegations from foreign countries? President Abraham Lincoln wrote his immortal Gettysburg Address on the train en route to Gettysburg, Philadelphia where he was to address at a cemetery there a commemorative event in honor of the heroes of the Civil War. The piece has become a literary and oratorical gem.

What was the President up to? Was it not imprudent to blame his communications group in public for the people’s lack of appreciation for what he claims he has done?

Whatever dissatisfaction he had was an internal matter with his communications group composed of persons close to him. He could have just called them to a lunch or dinner conference to discuss the problem. He might have discovered to his dismay the existing miscommunication between him and his hand-picked communications group.

On the part of his communications group, as shown in Valte’s remarks in the Inquirer report, they seem to have taken lightly the President’s dissatisfaction with their work as not an expression of displeasure with them. Instead of being so cavalier, showing how they relate with the President, they should have resigned en massé!

Valte told the Inquirer of the confidence they continue to enjoy from the President and of their efforts to introduce something new always. “We are always looking to improve strategies that we can employ, and there is always room for improvement as far as we are concerned.”

Evidently, the President wanted to impress his audience, foreigners included, that he had done great for the people but this had not been effectively communicated to them so they had not appreciated the “good things.” Not his fault!

Evidently, too, the Malacañang communications group – as Valte has said – wanted to impress the nation that they have always been trying to improve their “strategies” in telling the people the “good things” being done for them and if their “strategies” have not been effective “there is always room for improvement.” An admission of failure!

So, the people should ask: If the President believes that we don’t see and appreciate the “good things” he has done for us, what and where are these things? We should see! Will an improvement in communication strategies make us see what we don’t see now? Do we have to be told to see the “good things” if we are really enjoying them now?

Unfortunately, the President’s imprudence and the cavalier way his communications group through his deputy spokesperson have denied but unwittingly admitted their failure do not inspire confidence.