He had the political pedigree, graduated from a top military school in the United States, had held a Congress seat and delivered the vote of a strategic constituency. And yet Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya was probably the worst person to have held a Cabinet position ever.
Abaya, in his five years as transportation and communications secretary, left behind a swath of destruction that is more closely associated with the aftermath of a super-typhoon than with an appointee to government. Abaya bequeathed the nation with a legacy of broken, sold-off and anomalously maintained train systems, horrendous, world-beating traffic and airports bedeviled by chaos, unprecedented delays and predatory “laglag bala” law enforcers, among many other great feats; the man could not even issue license plates, drivers’ licenses and sticker tags that every other administration had no problem delivering, for crying out loud.
And yet, Abaya’s good buddy, Noynoy Aquino, never saw or heard anything bad that his transportation secretary did. In a now-famous “joke,” Aquino even said he and Abaya would lie down on a stretch of railroad track and allow themselves to get run over by a train, if they weren’t able to complete the extension of the LRT Line 1 to Bacoor, Cavite.
(Of course, the remark only became a joke when it became clear that the extension project would not be completed—or even started—during Aquino’s term. If Abaya had somehow beaten the odds and completed the project, it would be another of those great achievements of the Great Leader of the Yellow regime, naturally.)
I remembered the departed, unlamented Abaya yesterday, when I heard the usual Yellow suspects tear up again because President Rodrigo Duterte had appointed popular blogger Mocha Uson to the board of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. You’d think that the sky had fallen, the way the Yellows carried on about how Uson was being repaid for her efforts to get Duterte elected—as if their now-quiet idol from Times Street never did the same thing and with more terrible consequences, as in the case of the appointment of the aforementioned Abaya.
But then, Uson has always enraged the Yellows, who somehow seem to think that the sexy dancer and online superstar is to blame for everything that is wrong in this country—apart, of course, from Duterte himself. Uson’s millions of fans and online followers, of course, revere her for her politics and her way of connecting with the Duterte mass base, something that angers the elitist Yellows even more.
Uson received a foretaste of the Yellows’ wrath when she was appointed “ambassador” of the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival. Even earlier, when it was reported that she was being considered for the post of social media consultant of the Bureau of Customs, Uson was pilloried and called the same names that used to be reserved in the previous administration for presidential sister Kris Aquino.
Of course, the elitist anger that Uson elicits from the Yellows is only a fraction of what her idol Duterte has been reaping for himself as the ultimate outsider who turned politics as usual on its head with his election. The people who have decided that Duterte is all wrong for the presidency because he cusses and supposedly kills are the same ones who sniff—as one online report did, upon Uson’s appointment—that “[b]efore the campaign, Uson was known for giving sex tips online.”
Joseph Abaya never did anything salacious like that that we know of. But whatever Uson does as MTRCB board member (she’s not even the chairman), she’s never going to be able to damage the entire country like Abaya did.
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I can imagine Duterte signing Uson’s appointment with glee, because he knows just how the marginalized Yellows will react to it. And if there’s anything we know about the new president, he likes to thumb his nose at the people who are doing everything they can to make sure that he doesn’t succeed.
But perhaps the Yellows should be a little less predictable, just to confuse Duterte. After all, if they had any sense at all, they would understand that Uson is not being promoted beyond her capabilities and experience as a show business personality for the past decade or so.
It’s not as if Uson was being asked to negotiate with the People’s Republic of China in back-channel talks. And Uson is definitely more qualified for a board seat at the MTRCB—and has a better chance of succeeding—than Antonio Trillanes was to become our country’s de facto envoy to the Chinese government, right?
And why should Duterte not be allowed to appoint someone like Uson, who was his secret online weapon during the last elections, to some harmless government post? Did the Yellows really want Duterte to give the position to their political fellow travelers Jim Paredes, Leah Navarro or Cynthia Patag?
The Yellows really should focus more on their reported plans to remove Duterte during the first quarter of this year instead of wasting their energy decrying Uson’s appointment. There are bigger problems that they have to solve, after all— like how to get more people to join their on-again, off-again rallies, for instance.