Posts tagged: Noynoy Aquino
By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:21:00 06/11/2010
PARDON THE TEMPORARY CHANGE OF format, but I’d like to get my licks in on not just one but three issues.
Smoker’s choice: Apparently the White House records all of US President Barack Obama’s phone conversations, and the one between Obama and P-Noy was no exception. The transcript reportedly shows that when P-Noy brought up the smoking issue, Obama responded: “I kicked the habit, so you are going to have to work on that one yourself. I can give you advice, though.”
Notice, dear viewer: the decision to quit or not to quit must come from the smoker himself—it cannot be imposed from outside. And Obama, being a reformed smoker (although he admits to “messing up” at times), knows that only too well. His offer was to give advice only after P-Noy makes the decision. I totally agree.
I quit smoking six times over a 30-year period. My smoking was at its heaviest when I was in government—and President Cory Aquino finally allowed me to smoke during Cabinet meetings because she was distracted by my frequent stepping out of the room to smoke. The sixth time seems to have stuck because it has been almost 19 years since my last puff. I was a three-pack-a-day smoker. And in all six times, it was because I decided to quit—not because somebody told me to. In fact, somebody trying to tell you to quit can be distinctly counterproductive.
So P-Noy will quit only when he’s good and ready, period. In the meantime, though, it can at least be pointed out that Obama doesn’t smoke in front of his family, and certainly makes sure he doesn’t get caught smoking (even when he still hadn’t quit) by the ever-present cameras. And he is emphatically in favor of measures to prevent or discourage smoking. (In the Cory Cabinet, I, then a three-pack-a-day smoker, was in favor of punitive cigarette taxes, and my colleague Alran Bengzon, the health secretary, was against it. Go figure.)
President’s choice: It seems that everyone and his brother have their favorite candidates for various positions in the next government, and not content with plugging for their own “manoks,” they must try to put down other candidates as well. I have no idea whether current Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo wants to retain his position. Readers will recall that he was one of the first who expressed support for P-Noy, and he was willing to resign his post if President Macapagal-Arroyo took offense (she must have told him to stay). But all of a sudden a lot of what looks like mud has been slung at him.
It has been written that he is not only incompetent in the Department of Foreign Affairs, but unprincipled as well. I can vouch for his honesty and integrity. As for his incompetence in foreign affairs, I would like to see exactly what the specific examples of his incompetence are. And I would like to hear from the DFA “rank and file” themselves if they indeed think that he is incompetent.
In the meantime, the charge that during his watch, political rather than career ambassadors proliferated is plainly baseless: It is hard to quarrel with what looks like incontrovertible facts: career diplomats head almost 73 percent of foreign posts (versus 70 percent during Estrada, and 67 percent during Ramos); the implementation of the ePassport system, overall increases in compensation, health care insurance for all personnel at home and abroad, establishment of a provident fund. These don’t seem like a bad record at all.
Mila’s choice: It took more than two years going through what must have seemed like hell, but finally Mila Espinosa has been vindicated. I wrote about her case in this column last year. An assistant professor at the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) who accused its president, Godofredo Gallega of sexual harassment, she filed a case with the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Then, her via crucis began: rumors about her loose morals, public humiliation by Gallega during faculty assemblies, pressure for her to stop teaching; and when the CSC ordered Gallega’s preventive suspension, TUP’s Board of Regents (headed by Nona Ricafort of the Commission on Higher Education) refused to implement it— until the CSC started to play hard ball. But by that time, Gallega had been allowed to preside over the commencement ceremonies of the TUP, with CHEd Chair Emmanuel Angeles as speaker, no less.
But finally, the CSC has handed down its decision: Gallega was found guilty of sexual harassment—although not “grave” but “less grave” (the decision was very heavy reading for me)—which merited a six-month suspension. But since Gallega has already retired (last October), the CSC ordered that six months’ worth of salary be deducted from his retirement pay. Espinosa’s calvary is at an end. The TUP’s board should be pelted with eggs all over its face for its shameful support of Gallega, if not its timidity.
There is, however, an ominous note: TUP’s vice president for Planning, Development and Information Systems, Dr. Julian O. Marquez Jr., was killed last May 17 in front of his house in Imus, Cavite. Initial police reports indicated that the killing was done by professional hitmen. Unfortunately, the killing did not get too much press attention. (I Googled the killing, and got only one hit.)
An academic killed by hitmen? What is going on? It could be that Marquez may have some secret vices, but he also seems to have been in possession of documentary evidence regarding financial shenanigans in TUP—although I must say that this is raw information. But it is an angle worth pursuing, in fairness to all concerned.
Aquino on smoking: Sorry, but I can’t quit
MANILA, Philippines—Presumptive president-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III Monday rejected calls to quit smoking, saying his habit would help him deal with the severe pressures of his new position.
Aquino, 50, brushed aside calls from health groups that quitting smoking would set a good example for the country.
“People knew when I ran for president that I smoke,” Aquino said in reply to a nongovernmental organization who had asked him to be its antismoking poster boy.
“So as long as I don’t violate any laws and I don’t disturb anyone [I should be free to smoke]. This is one of my few remaining freedoms,” he said.
Aquino was back in the Senate Monday after three months of campaigning.
The senator, however, promised he would kick the habit—eventually.
“At the appropriate time, I will quit smoking,” he said.
Pressed to reveal why he was not ready to give up smoking just yet, Aquino said his new job would see him facing many “pressures” and by quitting now he would be adding an “unnecessary pressure.”
“It might even affect my decisions,” he said.
Told that giving up the habit would be for his own good, Aquino said he accepted this as true but insisted that “bad stress would be added” if he tried to quit now.
Later, in a chat with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and another reporter, Aquino said he preferred to smoke Marlboro Lights Menthol.
He said that during the critical snap presidential election in 1986, he smoked three packs of cigarettes—the most he had ever consumed in a day.
Smoking is one habit that Aquino shares with Barack Obama, who is still struggling to quit, according to his first medical examination in early March since becoming US President.
Obama, 48, promised his wife Michelle when he ran for president that he would quit. He was then smoking about eight sticks a day. Last year, he told reporters he had quit smoking but still had an occasional cigarette.
Aquino has a wide lead in the unofficial tallies of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Congress is slated to start canvassing the votes for president and vice president this week and intends to proclaim the winners before the second week of June. With a report from Agence France-Presse