Like zombies, the Yellows amongst us refuse to die, even if they have practically lost all signs of life as most of us know it. Two recent events have convinced me that this is true.
First, right after the congressional bicameral committee agreed that a controversial P8.3-billion allocation intended for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao should be given to the Commission on Higher Education, to pay for the tuition of students in state universities and colleges, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV (known to most people as “Bam”) was ready with a press release. Aquino, who is so Yellow that he got elected to the Senate simply because of his physical resemblance to his famous uncle, former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., said he was responsible for the diversion, having filed a bill granting poor students in public universities and colleges free tuition.
The truth is, Aquino did file such a bill in Congress. But the Yellow senator neglected to mention two things, in his haste to claim credit for something he said he had done single-handedly.
First, at least five other senators have pending legislative proposals similar to Aquino’s (Senate Bill 177) have been filed in the current Congress in the Senate alone. Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (who filed SB 133), Francis Pangilinan (SB 962), Sherwin Gatchalian (SB 198), JV Ejercito (SB 158) and Ralph Recto (SB 61) all have equivalent measures up for deliberation; none of them have gotten Senate approval yet.
Secondly, Aquino himself had nothing to do with the windfall given to CHED and the students, which was really the result of the efforts of Senator Panfilo Lacson to stop the allocation of what he called “pork” funds to the ARMM through the Department of Public Works and Highways in the new budget.
Lacson threatened to stall the passage of the P3.35-trillion 2017 national budget of the Duterte administration if the DPWH allocations were not removed. So the bicameral panel shifted the P8.3-billion fund to CHED, saying it would be spent instead for free tuition for students in public colleges and universities, including the University of the Philippines.
Over the weekend, facing a firestorm of criticism for his blatant Yellow-style credit-grabbing, Aquino was forced to issue another press release, which admitted that his free-tuition measure has not yet been approved by Congress, much less provided with government funding. The remnants of the once-powerful Yellow online army, which had already praised Aquino for getting the job done, fell deathly silent—perhaps until yet another opportunity to claim credit arises.
I had flashbacks of Bam’s cousin Noynoy claiming credit for economic gains that happened during his term that were all attributable to external factors like improved remittances, lower oil prices, the flight of capital from moribund US markets and the rise of the business process outsourcing industry. Count on an Aquino to do nothing and then to say he did everything when things go right.
And then I remembered how Bam started a high-profile investigation on slow Internet speeds in the country. And how he was never heard from again on the matter—even if Internet speeds have only gotten slower than ever before.
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Speaking of being Yellow and getting paid for doing nothing, the office of Vice President Leni Robredo sent out the following tweet, widely reported in the media last week, using the popular hashtag #PrayForAleppo:
“Let us all do our part in helping our brothers and sisters in Syria who are trapped in the Aleppo crossfire. Here are some of the institutions you can donate to: [lists the UNHCR, the Red Cross, etc.]”
Now, I get that Robredo doesn’t really have a job right now, since she has resigned from President Rodrigo’s Cabinet. But why on earth should she get all het up about the strife in Syria when she could by concerning herself with the problems besetting her countrymen here?
My own suspicion is that Robredo is running a full-time propaganda machinery that wants her to piggyback on every possible issue in true trapo-Yellow fashion, including the Aleppo situation. I also suspect that because it was a slow news day as far as slamming Duterte was concerned (the free college tuition and the proposed P1,000 social security pension increase were the big stories at the time), Robredo’s handlers had to look far afield to keep their client in the news pages; that’s how they ended up in Syria, making the VP solicit donations for the victims of the war there.
I have nothing against seeking more humanitarian aid for Aleppo, understand. But I have a problem with Robredo trying to look empathetic by asking for help for Syria when her own countrymen are also suffering—especially from the lack of assistance from their own government during the previous administration of which she was a part.
Robredo’s Aleppo call reminded me of that time in 2012 when Noynoy Aquino lent $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help stabilize the global economy in the middle of the Eurozone crisis. Never mind if, that early in his empathy-challenged term, Aquino was already showing how little he cared for his own countrymen and how his high post was actually an imposition on him and his so-called love life.
“Tatak Aquino,” they used to say, self-admiringly. Well, the Yellow zombies who worship all things Aquino are still around—and in high office, no less.