ADVOCACY MINDANOW: An emotional president

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 July) — When President Aquino choked a bit trying hard to hold back tears towards the end of his SONA last Monday he was obviously emotion-filled. Contrary to what critics say, I think it was normal and spontaneous. He is human just like you and me. And he succeeded in putting a check to it but not before it was noticed by a whole nation watching. If not for the TV cameras zooming in on presidential sister Kris and the other Aquino sisters who were also shedding tears in the gallery, it would have been no big deal.

END IS NEAR — His emotions got the better of him when he recalled his late parents, Ninoy and Cory, and that he did his best to continue their legacies — with acceptance that his end was near as president, with about less than 24 more months left. And beleaguered in all fronts with his survey results now plummeting due to recent setbacks and missteps. It sounded to me like a “swan song”, saying an early goodbye. I don’t blame him for feeling bad. But he should not also begrudge the Pinoys for it. This trend happens to all previous presidents when the end is near. They become lameducks and P-noy is no exception. How he will handle this is what is crucial.

SAVE THOSE TEARS — Of all presidents I have seen (some I personally served) this is the first time I saw a head of state becoming emotional while facing the whole nation. FVR was able to rein in his volatile temper with a smiling facial veneer when in public, although we could see his jaw tighten in some difficult instances. GMA managed adroitly her Hello Garci “I’m sorry” spiel, although the infamous “Hyatt 10″ still abandoned ship nonetheless. ERAP kept his jovial self for the public while unceremoniously removed and imprisoned. Yes, presidents should be made of sterner stuff. They need emotional strength not only in confronting challenges while in office but most important when they are no longer in office as the floodgates of accountability and responsibility shall then be wide open. The way President Aquino exacted these standards on others (like GMA, JPE, Senators Bong and Jinggoy, etc) during his watch, he should likewise measure up to them after 2016. He must steel himself when that time comes. So save those tears for now, Mr. President.

INKs VS CATHOLICS? — I was amused reading some heated exchanges in the social media, obviously between a few Catholics and INKs as a result of what the INK head said when he mentioned about the “dwindling” Catholic church during its centennial celebration. The Iglesia church is homegrown and has gathered its millions of flock far and wide all over the globe, but retaining the distinct Filipino way of faith and nationalism. There is really no reason for this enmity if we listen to the way His Holiness Pope Francis had been conducting his papacy: ecumenism and unity are hallmarks. We can all be one. Let’s all be one!

RENEGOTIATION — I’m glad to know that the GPH and MILF panels are holding a marathon 10-day meeting in Davao City to take a second look (aka “renegotiate”) at what was signed and crafted that did not pass the constitutional review of Malacanang. The Supreme Court ruling on the DAP was a reality check for all those who thought the Constitution could be malleable and flexible enough to accommodate the “borderline” issues on constitutionality in the CAB and the draft BBL. (I thought we learned lessons from the failed MOA-AD!) It also disabused the minds of all, especially among the MILF leaders that what Malacanang wants, it can get. That trust has been eroded. That confidence is no longer there so it is prudent to mitigate the risks and do some readjustments while we still can.

My unsolicited advice is: a) for the MILF to consider changes with an open mind instead of digging in and proclaiming that what was signed was cast in stone and no longer subject to renegotiation; b) for the GPH to first own up and acknowledge its mistake of making the MILF believe that what was already signed was good and okay and who gave false and misleading assurances that the unamended Constitution was flexible enough, only to change gears at the last minute; and c) get the stakeholders on board in the renegotiation.

One final word: If there are persons on either side who cannot accept these parameters, I now strongly advise them to stand aside, resign and be not in the way in the difficult search for that still elusive formula for peace. Someone has to take the bullet! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and is publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW.)