IN just two weeks, this regime of the Yellow Ribbon will be thrown into the dustbin of history, and for most Filipinos, it will be as if an evil wizard’s spell over a hapless people were suddenly lifted. Thank God.
I don’t think any historian would look at this yellow regime as having helped develop this archipelago into a nation. The economic growth figures are all for naught as the poor incontrovertibly have become poorer, the rich have become richer and the magnates such as the Ayalas and Indonesian Salims invest their companies’ dividends abroad since the local markets have become saturated, what with such a small strata of middle-class consumers. The Yellow Ribbon will be a scorned symbol, if it is at all remembered.
Except for President Aquino and his few fanatics, I don’t think you’d see anybody wearing that yellow ribbon on their chests anymore.
Even the high priests of that Order – Sen. Franklin Drilon, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and especially losing presidential candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd – are no longer wearing that ridiculous symbol.
Why should they? Other than to tell Aquino they’re very loyal to him, the yellow-ribbon pin symbolized nothing but that moment in history when defeat – the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino, the president’s father – turned into victory, the assumption to power of the widow Corazon Aquino, who really knew nothing about governance. Drilon and Abad weren’t even major players in that victory, while Roxas in 1986 was still dreaming of bagging a big deal in New York so he could be a real investment banker.
Even those who embraced that symbol in 1986 knew that it was such a contrived act from that corny country-music song (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon on the Old Oak Tree) and was thought up by American PR and political-consultancy firms (mainly by the Sawyer Miller Group). Cory didn’t really care much about that Yellow Ribbon but bowed to pressure from her American PR experts to at least wear yellow. I never saw the pillars of her Administration – Salvador Laurel, Joker Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile, Teodoro Locsin, Jr., and Ramon Mitra ever wearing that ribbon on their chests.
It was only her underachiever, lackluster son Benigno 3rd who did, as he needed to remind people that he’s Cory’s son, and to mythologize EDSA I, that he was the keeper of that EDSA flame – so he could do whatever he wanted, even to secretly just serve his and his gang’s interests. It had become some kind of fashion chic for the rich, bored housewives, who identified with the spoiled hacendero-scion Benigno 3rd.
So, with the propaganda power of and the talisman that was the Yellow Ribbon, Aquino had the gall to commit the following crimes against the nation:
1. He attacked the Supreme Court by removing its Chief Justice, Renato Corona, from office on a single, flimsy, non-impeachable ground, with Congress both mesmerized by the purported anti-corruption ethos of the Yellow Ribbon and bribed through pork-barrel money and the hijacked government funds through the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The intent – as is indisputably proven now – was entirely to get the Supreme Court to rule compensation for the Cojuangco side of his clan P1.3 billion for their Hacienda Luisita’s inclusion in the land reform program, instead of only P196 million as the Court had ordered. Another major purpose of the assault was to fill the Supreme Court with Aquino’s appointees so the Court’s decisions would support his schemes, which was the case when it allowed Grace Poe to run for the presidency, with Poe’s drawing power calculated to steal candidate Jejomar Binay’s mass support.
Aquino’s decapitation of the Supreme Court alone makes him the worst President in our history. Other than Marcos—who at least had a clear national vision for declaring Martial Law, which, in fact, our Asian neighbors had also done around that era – Aquino damaged what stood as essential to building a nation: its institutions. As a result, never before has the prestige of Congress been so low (as to follow blindly a President’s order to remove the Chief Justice) and never has there been a Supreme Court Chief Justice as unqualified as she is beholden to Aquino.
2. Aquino decimated the opposition under the guise of the anti-graft program of the Order of the Yellow Ribbon. Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in 2013 kept claiming that other than opposition leaders Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla – the latter two, would you believe, were presidential timber at that time – they would file charges against known big supporters of Aquino. They never did.
For some sleight nobody really can explain, Aquino, under the Yellow Ribbon’s propaganda power, has managed to imprison the ailing Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the most flimsy grounds. After sick years of searching every single filing cabinet of government for evidence of graft, Aquino, though, has been utterly unable to prove the alleged corruption of his predecessor, who steered the country in 2007-2008 through the worst global financial crisis.
3. He conscripted the Press to his schemes, with its members who have the smallest, gullible minds or the most mercenary souls justifying their enlistment on the basis of the purported anti-graft aims of the Yellow Ribbon. Thus, the pork-barrel attack on the opposition was disguised as an investigative journalism project of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The paper also undertook the most savage and unrelenting demonization campaign against Vice President Jejomar Binay, which spelled his doom in the recent presidential elections.
One of the most important tasks of a President is to instill among his people the sense that their fate is bound together, that is, the conviction that they belong to one nation. This is the reason why heads of states from Albania to Zimbabwe, even the US and France, almost always wear on their left chest “near the heart,” pins representing their flag.
Have you ever seen President Obama, other than in very informal occasions when he wore a plain shirt, without the US pin on his left chest?
It is so revealing of his real character that President Aquino during his entire term never ever wore our flag-pin, Only the Yellow Ribbon.
The Yellow Ribbon is his Aquino-Cojuangco’s clan’s sigil, its coat of arms. It is not the symbol of the Philippine Republic. Aquino has not really been the President of the Philippines but just the patriarch of his elite clan these past six years.
All Philippine Presidents had adopted the Philippine flag as their own symbol, and Aquino’s preference for the Yellow Ribbon eloquently demonstrates his lack of understanding of what a nation is, and that it was his task as President to develop it, and not just enrich his clan and cronies and jail their enemies and the threats to their rule.
The Yellow Ribbon has been a divisive symbol, reminding the Ilocano-speakers of the country that his clan overthrew their President. No wonder President-elect Duterte kissing the Philippine flag was such a powerful image, while Roxas and his followers’ yellow shirts have become a sickening sight. I do hope, though, that Duterte’s sigil won’t be just for Mindanao island.
I assume, however, that during our lifetime we will see Aquino’s sisters using that ridiculous Yellow Ribbon theme again, when they demonstrate on the streets to seek the release of their brother from prison.