Dec 22, 2010

[Philippines] President Noynoy Aquino's Communication Issues

I was initially thinking about commenting on the just-passed FCC Rules regarding Net Neutrality, but I haven't found a copy of the actual decision at this point. It feels a tad too early to jump on this particular issue, although clearly net neutrality advocates are up in arms about the lack of substance in the official rules voted on by the FCC.

Instead, it seemed like a more timely notion to talk about our current President Nonoy "PNoy" Aquino and his many "successful" media gaffes in the past few months.

Flickr: thepocnews - chardinet_noynoy
by The POC News / thepocnews via Flickr.

Oh yes, ever since he was sworn in as the 15th President of the Philippines, he's had a mix of good and bad moments in the eyes of the media - something that brings odd memories of his sister, Kris Aquino. You'd think that a family that has lived in the public eye for most of their lives such as the Aquinos would be better equipped to handle this sort of thing, but clearly this is not the case. And this especially applies to PNoy.

One doesn't need to dig too deeply to find weird statements released by the Office of the President or perhaps the president himself (more often than not). This week there was the whole announcement of veering away from the somewhat controversial "holiday economics" policy of the previous administration. Aquino's denials that the decision was made in deference to pressure from business complaining about the holiday premiums forced upon them seemed pretty flimsy and in the end still pointed back at economics as a primary reason. There's his attempts to defend the new look of our currency despite glaring geographic and factual inaccuracies. The list goes on and on and he certainly has a knack for adding to it.

Flickr: chardinet - Pres. Noynoy Aquino Inauguration 2010
Pres. Noynoy Aquino Inauguration 2010
by Richard Grimaldo / chardinet via Flickr.

First, let's concede the fact that he wasn't voted into office because of actual qualifications. He was a lackluster lawmaker in congress and didn't exactly make waves in terms of his career. He coasted along until his mother died and suddenly everybody thought it would be a good idea to vote him into office as president. He ran an anti-corruption campaign that clearly tried to pattern itself after Obama's successful 2008 presidential election campaign despite his lack of true charisma or even basic public speaking abilities.

So instead we have a president who isn't fully qualified to handle the role and who surrounded himself by folks who aren't necessarily as experienced either. He tried to run a social media savvy administration through his official website, but his administration has had more than it's fair share of social media mishaps such as the gaffe about the quality of food in Vietnam already. Yeah, launch a social media marketing effort without first defining a clear content policy? Now hat's REAL smart.

Now we have him trying to outdo his sister in terms of most outlandish ways of inserting one's foot into his or her mouth. And why is that? Doesn't his robust media team have the will to rein him in or make sure his comments are filtered a bit more? Is this a failing on the part of his spokesman Edwin Lacierda or perhaps his entire Presidential Communications Office? Or should the buck stop with the President himself and his seeming inability to think before speaking or make sure he doesn't offend entire countries (China / Hong Kong? Japan? Vietnam? Indonesia?) by his mis-speaking or his sometimes callous remarks. Or his inappropriate smiling during moments of stress.

I feel pretty bad that he's what we would call a "true blue Atenean" given he studied there from Grade School to College. While I only stayed until high school myself, I end up feeling frustrated that considering how much weight the school places on the value of English and the ability to express oneself clearly, he's screwing up a LOT as if he's a total novice in terms of being in the public eye. Why do we keep allowing him to make such stupid pronouncements left and right? Why do we keep letting him talk to the press that way? Transparency in government is a good thing, I agree, but I'd also like some level of intelligence going into how this transparency is attained.

I know he's green around the edges - I already conceded that right? But he can't keep hiding behind being new at this because a lot of these mistakes aren't small things. When you put them all together, a greater and more system pattern of inefficiency (and at times ineptitude) is clearly emerging, giving me good reason to be concerned for the rest of his administration. His decisions are his decisions, that's fine and not what I'm arguing against here. My bone is with this man's inability to express himself in a clear and concise manner that doesn't trample on the feelings of others may it be notable public figures or foreign governments on a whole. He needs more than just speech writers (who kinda suck at their jobs too) - he needs a true media coach to guide him in terms of how to handle the daily routine of handling the press and making sure all of his statements out there in the public make sense and are aligned with what he intends to say.

And we haven't even finished his first year in office!
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