No moral authority

WAS nobody paying attention when President Aquino heaped praise on a resigning Cabinet member who allowed dancing women to simulate sex acts on stage following a Liberal Party oathtaking ceremony? Who, despite his belated denials, appeared to have invited the women to perform as “a birthday gift” to another Liberal Party politician who was celebrating his 58th  birthday? This is also the same government official who failed so miserably in the last five years to fulfill his mandate to manage traffic in Metro Manila that the police had to be called in to do the job for him. He was also the one who used public funds to travel outside his jurisdiction to shamelessly promote himself for a planned run at the Senate.

So, when the chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority Francis Tolentino, resigned in shame last week, we expected a terse line from the Palace accepting his offer to step down and to remove him from the Liberal Party senatorial lineup for 2016.

We did not expect the fulsome praise attributed to President Benigno Aquino III.

“In all his years of public service, from the time he was appointed by my mother as officer in charge of Tagaytay City in 1986 to his participation in the reform agenda as a member of my Cabinet, Francis demonstrated the dedication and dynamic leadership of a public servant committed to the common good. It is this same commitment that encouraged him to set his sights towards serving our people in a higher capacity,” the President said.

“Francis is a firm advocate of Daang Matuwid. He knows that, at present, those who oppose meaningful reform will want to exploit the incident. I believe that Chairman Tolentino is doing his part to ensure that public debate truly focuses on the continuation of Daang Matuwid and the undeniable benefits it has brought to our bosses,” the President said.

“It is also my belief that he will take the opportunity to further reflect on how he can better affect positive change in the future,” Aquino added.

Where was the dedication and dynamic leadership, we wonder, when the MMDA failed so miserably to bring order to our streets during the five years that Tolentino was in office?

Where was his advocacy of the straight path, when the dancing girls dry humped men clad in Liberal Party-yellow on stage during the birthday celebration of Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao?

The problem with Mr. Aquino is that he reduces everything to politics.

In Mr. Aquino’s jaundiced eyes, the disgraceful display in Laguna last week was merely another opportunity for his opponents to criticize his government, and was therefore unworthy of censure.

Fortunately, the women’s rights group Gabriela thought otherwise and filed charges against Tolentino this week for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and the Magna Carta of Women.

It is an odd, morally bankrupt and brokeback “straight path” that Mr. Aquino is on; the sooner we all get off it, the better.

Topics: Francis Tolentino
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