From Day One, Filipinos have looked for ways to catch President Aquino’s and his team’s attention whenever they f—k their jobs and whenever they needed to be reminded about their solemn duties and the promises they made during the campaign.
Everytime the public would raise a howl over some grave mistake or omission, the routine answer from Malacanang has been to point fingers at the trust and confidence ratings of the President and the electoral mandate he enjoyed. Even social media, which the President and his team promised would be used for gathering feedback from the public, had been grossly violated. Each time netizens take to the President’s Facebook Page to give the President a piece of their mind, Palace factotums just suddenly get afflicted with an irrational allergy — they shut down the Page for comments. Of course, we cannot forget how the Palace just snatched the Facebook Page from the ordinary citizens which set it up and administered it until it reached millions of Likes. That in itself was an offense.
Enter Noynoying. For the first time since June 30, 2010, Filipinos have been able to take a word and use it like a battering ram to grab the President’s attention and tell him straight to his face: You absolutely need improvement. You’re not up to par. You’re being a jerk.
Leaders and media supporters of the Yellow Army have been having a very difficult time finding ways to blunt and crush Noynoying. Theirs is an impossible job. We have a President not known to be hardworking. His tenure since 2010 has been marked by displays of incompetence (think Arroyo prosecution and the Corona impeachment) and insensitivity (think typhoon Sendong and the Malacanang guards’ party). The fact is, many people are disgusted, frustrated and disappointed with how the President is handling his job and how he is responding to crisis upon crisis facing the country. Yes, the people continue to trust him, many thanks to the most powerful surname he inherited but his surname alone cannot be waved as a magic wand to make problems and valid criticisms disappear into thin air.
Noynoying is a reminder of the many instances where the President, the most powerful leader in our government, failed miserably to do justice to every man and to consecrate himself to the service of the nation. It is a reminder of the solemn oath he always repeatedly forgets because he is a bachelor who has a “right” to party and to go out on dates. Anak ng tokwa. But that’s what the Palace factotums have been saying to defend the obviously indefensible.
Mr. Aquino ran for office as the candidate of change and claimed to have captured the support of young people. It is thus a slap on his face that it was the young people who invented the term Noynoying. For the young, the President deserves it because of his inaction to the agenda of change put forward by young people: a moratorium on the addiction of private and public schools to tuition fee hikes (an addiction which led to the demise of a number of schools and education plan companies), and a higher budget for state colleges and universities. The President even lied some time back about his administration’s decision to cut funding for state schools — a lie exposed not just by students but by the faculty and administrators.
For common folk like workers and farmers, Noynoying is a more powerful term to describe the President’s refusal to do justice to them. He refuses to use the awesome powers of the presidency to deliver land reform and wage hikes. His team even goes to the extent of lying or engaging in intellectual dishonesty to say the outrageous: The economy is said to be too small to afford Filipino workers a decent pay. Noynoying is not just about the President being lazy. It is about the President being lazy about doing the right things.
The President has also been Noynoying about the Freedom of Information Bill. Despite the many alibis like the dangers the FOI supposedly pose to national security, the fact of the matter is that the President presides over a country that is among a very tiny minority of countries worldwide that still refuse to pass such a law. Come to think of it, a President who promises to lead a Daang Matuwid would naturally and normally find an FOI as a tool to keep the public engaged in the fight for good governance. But not this President. He has been Noynoying about the FOI since Day One of his presidency and in so doing continue to give all the corrupt government officials including his Cabinet a free pass to be untransparent and unaccountable. Now, in his quest to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona, he find his incompetent plan stonewalled — Paano, ayaw kasing ipasa nag FOI. Just in case the President needs to be reminded, the FOI puts things in the proper perspective. All government officials owe their allegiance to the Filipino people who employ and pay them — and the FOI only seeks to make each of them transparent and accountable not to the President but to the people. Anyway, since we still do not have an FOI and Congress seems to have been sidelined by the Corona impeachment project of the President, count the FOI under the Noynoying column.
How about land reform both in the cities and especially in the countryside? The President’s Noynoying has been in favor of landlords and land developers. Which is not surprising because the President is/was a landlord. Setting aside biases and prejudgments against “squatters”, the fact of the matter is that destitution in the cities and the countryside is not a crime problem that merits a police solution (demolition). Part of doing justice to every man is doing justice to those who have been denied their own land to till, and millions of urban poor who are told they absolutely have no place in the city. The Noynoying attitude towards them have made the second Aquino presidency the most vicious when it comes to destroying poor people’s homes and communities. It is an open secret that the Aquino and Cojuangco families are incensed over the Supreme Court’s decision to end the Executive Department’s Noynoying, pro-landlord attitude towards the Hacienda Luisita. It is said to be one of the real major issues why Aquino authorized the bumbling impeachment plan against the chief justice.
Unknown to many, President Aquino has approved the closure of a number of Philippine embassies and consulates to cut costs and to streamline operations. Looks like Noynoying insofar as overseas Filipino workers are concerned. For a presidency that is as addicted to OFW remittances as its predecessors, it is an opportunistic way to go Noynoying. It is as if the Aquino government is telling our OFWs: Go ahead and continue sending the remittances our economy is seriously addicted to, but when you need government help, you have to take the bus or a plane to the nearest Philippine diplomatic mission.
The most basic achievement everyone expect from President Aquino is this: the speedy, fair and public prosecution and trial of former President Arroyo. That was one of his big campaign promises and it is only fair for the public to expect him to use the awesome powers of the presidency towards this goal. What did we get? Nada. Until Mrs. Arroyo started to act as if she’s afflicted with a life-threatening illness and attempted to go abroad and make eskapo. The Noynoying over Arroyo’s prosecution is best exemplified by the lone case reaching the court: That of electoral sabotage. All the other charges which we expect the President, through the justice department, to pursue — human rights abuses, plunder, graft, etc?
As far as foreign policy is concerned, nothing profound has been made to reform the otherwise pro-American way we do our international affairs. Nothing wrong with siding with any country, I tell you. But when Philippine interests are subordinated to those of others, you would most probably have problems. This falls squarely on the President’s lap because he is supposed to be the architect of Philippine foreign policy. There is apparently no Noynoying when welcoming US troops is concerned. No Noynoying when the President is summoned by the US embassy to tour a visiting US warship.
The list goes on. It is thus foolish for the President’s Yellow Army of rah-rah boys and girls to use empty spin to counter Noynoying. No amount of media blitz could turn the President into a workaholic because what he and his administration have shown are multiple acts of laziness, insensitivity, and incompetence. It irks many because it was the President and his team themselves who impressed upon the public from 2009 onwards that his quest for the presidency would ultimately lead to the creative use and exercise of the awesome powers of the presidency for the social good. Noynoying is a running verdict and commentary of a growing number of Filipinos that nothing much, nothing meaningful has been done in this regard.
It is easy to claim that Noynoying is just a leftist creation — a pro-Aquino columnist and a Malacanang deputy spokesperson have made the charge. But despite the uncreative and jurassic redbaiting by Aquino defenders, Noynoying continues to catch the public’s imagination of what the President has done or failed to have done since June 30, 2010.
Noynoying will remain relevant and powerful as long as the President is lazy and refuses to do what is right for the country.
(P.S. Could Noynoying replace Juan Tamad? No. Juan Tamad does not apply to leaders and especially to the President. It has been used derisively against ordinary Filipinos but has long been debunked by the daily toil of our people. Filipinos are among the most productive people in the world, known to be hard-working and very capable. Even our kababayans abroad have two to three jobs to earn enough for themselves and for their families. Wittingly or unwittingly, Noynoying has become the hallmark of the presidency of President Benigno Aquino III. We humbly nominate it as Word of the Year for 2012.)