the more i listen to PNoy, the more i realize that his communications team, all three heads of it, seems to be just clueless about how to handle his public speaking, how to strike a balance between being (pa-)cool and young, and creating an image of credibility and respect. case in point: at the investiture of Fr. Jett Villarin into the Ateneo Presidency, the premise of PNoy’s speech was his being Atenista, his personal relationship with Fr. Jett its context. this apparently meant going back to the time when they were members of/working with the Sanggunian ng Mag-aaral (the Sanggu) of Ateneo during Martial Law.
Hindi man po masyadong halata, talagang mas ahead po talaga si Father Jett sa akin nang nag-aaral pa kami (ganoon ho talaga ‘pag kayo ang may tangan ng mike, puwede kayong mag-author’s license), at ilang beses ko din siyang nakasabay tuwing may mga aktibidad ang atin pong sanggunian ng mga mag-aaral. Naalala ko nga po nang may nag-imbita sa amin na maging—at ito nga ho, lumalabas ang edad namin—maging founding member ng League of Filipino Students. Batch po namin sa sanggunian iyan.
Noong kami po ay nagtatalo kung sasama o hindi dito, ang aming faculty adviser, si Ginang Tina Montiel, lahat ho kami, may agam-agam. Tama ba na papasailalim tayo sa kanilang tinatawag na Executive Committee kung saan, may diktadura na nga sa labas ng ating pamantasan, sasama pa kami sa isang organisasyon na didiktahan rin kami? Naalala ko pa ang aming pangulo noon, si Budge Orara, na kung saan natapos ang botohan ay biglang humalakhak, pagkatapos ng pagkaseryo-seryosong boto—dahil unanimous po ang aming desisyon na hindi tama sumama sa League of Filipino Students noong mga panahong iyon.
Hindi namin ganoong kakilala ang isa’t isa pero talaga naman pong hinubog kami ng Ateneo na talagang, kung tutuusin, iisa ang pananaw at talagang tama ang depinisyon at nagkakasundo sa kung paano ipapaliwanag kung ano ang mabuti, ano ang tama para sa ating mga kapwa mag-aaral.
these statements, while couched in banter and familiarity, is replete with layers of carelessness, almost as if it’s a private exchange among friends and not a public statement being made by the president of this country. so on the one hand, he was paying tribute to his alma mater in this speech; yet in the process of doing this as casually as possible, he creates the impression that Ateneo molds <students> who have the same views about the world, hold the correct definitions, are one in explaining what is right and what is just. fine, he was talking about his time in the Sanggu, but really? he just put into question Ateneo’s credibility as a liberal university, as an academic institution that holds critical thinking and discourse in high regard. i’d like to think — in fact i know — that PNoy’s statement is a disservice to all those Ateneo teachers who engage students in the task of asking the right questions, instead of creating a generation who don’t know to be critical.
that PNoy was talking about the Sanggu of his time’s unanimous decision not to join the committee that would form the League of Filipino Students (LFS) during Martial Law was this speech’s bigger more glaring mistake. again, in a tone that might be used for a dinner with friends, PNoy ended up not just putting into question LFS as an organization, but in fact, Ateneo itself and its refusal to get involved in nation at a time when this was what was required of the youth. and they refused because they had apparently been molded into thinking that to be part of LFS would be to fall into the hands of another kind dictatorship which, in the context of the Marcos dictatorship, was apparently unacceptable.
the parallelism of course is downright offensive: to have made such a sweeping statement about LFS and made it seem like it was equal to the Marcos regime it fought against, proves not just PNoy’s lack of a sense of history, but really his (and his people’s) carelessness, where this President falsely accused an organization that continues to exist of being a dictatorship. and then to add insult to injury, or just add to the carelessness, Edwin Lacierda says about the demand for an apology:
“No, the President will not issue an apology over a factual matter and for an organization that criticizes this administration incessantly, it should shed its onion-skin features,” Lacierda said in a text message to Sun.Star. “If it can dish out criticisms, [there is] no reason why it should not be able to take criticisms.”
no, Mr. Lacierda, you are wrong. what PNoy said about LFS was farthest from being factual, in fact it was an opinion, turned false accusation, couched as it was in an unjust parallelism. and when you carelessly articulate that LFS just has “onion-skinned features” <sic> and should be able to take criticism since they dish it, you also inadvertently point out how this was PNoy — this was the president of this nation — power tripping and taking a jab at an activist student organization that’s critical of him.
so anyone who criticizes the government is now fair game in PNoy speeches? how is that just, or fair? how is that respectable or responsible? or is it that what matters to this government is for PNoy to comfortably deliver speeches, never mind that there’s a tendency for him to seem like a loose cannon making careless insinuations and tactless assertions?
how very Kris Aquino of him.