Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interesting Times, Interesting Times

"A leader with a fresh mandate must look forward rather than pontificate on the perceived ills of the past as if to cover up an absent or deficient positive agenda for action," he said.

"The supposed 'failures' of the past are pitfalls to avoid but not 'cadavers' for repeated exhumation," he said.

"A president must succeed or fail based on his own merit and performance," he said.

Words of wisdom indeed that appear especially apt at the moment. You may be wondering who uttered them. Jim DeMint? Paul Ryan? Bobby Jindal?

How about a member of the Filipino Congress:

President-elect Benigno Aquino III should not blame outgoing President Arroyo entirely for the problems facing his administration, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said yesterday.

While it seems like there's never a dull moment in American politics these days, when it comes to intrigue, the US political scene can't hold a candle to what's going on in the Philippines right now. The plots and subplots would strain credulity if they were part of a fictional television series. But this isn't TV, it's reality.

Filipino politics should hold particular interest to Americans since the system of government is largely based on that of the United States. There are three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The legislative branch consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Sound familiar?

There are some differences too. The president is elected by popular vote, serves a six-year term, and cannot run for re-election. Unlike the US, where voters select a ticket of president and vice president, in the Philippines, the vice president is also elected by popular vote. That has lead to a most unusual situation where newly elected President Benigno Aquino III (or Noynoy) will enter office with a vice president from another party, Jejomar Binay. While it's not theoretically possible in the United States these days, ponder the possibility of President Obama and Vice President Palin. Now that would be fun, wouldn't it?

But the political fun in the Philippines is just beginning. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (or GMA as she's commonly known) is the current president of the Philippines. But on June 30th, when NoyNoy Aquino takes the oath of office and assumes the presidency, GMA will not fade away from the political spotlight. Instead she will take a seat in the House of Representatives which she won in the May election. Imagine George W. Bush not retiring to his Crawford ranch to write his memoirs after turning over the reins to President Obama, but instead becoming a Congressman from Texas.

Oh and what if instead of being married with a couple of kids, President Obama had a thirty-year-old girlfriend who was also a political figure (and doesn't cut a bad one either)?

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said it's just proper for the media to give Aquino a "honeymoon" period of at least 100 days.

"Noynoy's honeymoon with the media is a given. It's his honeymoon with Shalani that I'm waiting for," Pimentel said in jest, referring to Aquino's girlfriend, Councilor Shalani Soledad of Valenzuela City.

A disparate cast of characters, conflict, and a love interest. The elements are all in place for a storyline that soap opera writers would envy. And even a few laughs:

Sen. Joker Arroyo also appealed to Aquino's critics to give him a break.

"There should be no heckling yet. Give the guy a break," said Arroyo, who served as executive secretary during the term of Aquino's mother, the late president and people power icon Corazon Aquino.

It should come as no surprise that a joker would call for a moratorium on heckling. And yet another similarity to our own politics. They've got a Joker in the Senate and so do we.