For almost one decade, the Philippines has precariously stood and stared at the edge of the abyss. The government flirted with authoritarianism as the power-hungry and greedy tried to hold-on to their positions with veiled contempt for the law, propriety and public opinion. Corruption in many forms permeated the various levels of the bureaucracy, which was not surprising considering that the former chief executive was the role model. The Office of the President became a transactional institution being used to enrich the coffers of the one in power and those close to her. Along with the issue of legitimacy, the issue of corruption seriously hounded the Arroyo administration. From the fertilizer fund scam to the NBN-ZTE deal scandal, the hands of the president were seen pulling the strings.
President Noynoy’s victory is a testament to the Filipino people’s condemnation of of his predecessor’s governance. Although the death of Cory served as a catalyst, it was Noynoy’s credible character that endeared him to the electorate. Noynoy was seen as diametrically opposite to GMA. Although far from being a messiah or a saint, Noynoy was seen as the best hope for the country. Just like Cory, Noynoy became the rallying figure for the renewal of democracy.
Although Noynoy’s 42% electoral mandate does not represent a majority. This was still a landslide and overwhelming victory considering that there were nine official presidential candidates in the 2010 National Elections. On the other hand, the presence of former President Joseph Estrada in the inauguration also contributed in cementing the legitimacy of Noynoy’s victory. Erap was a serious contender last election, mustering more than 25% of the total votes. Surely, most of Erap’s supporter are also now recognizing Noynoy’s victory.
Great expectations can be gleamed from the festive mood of the inauguration ceremonies. As one famous superhero movie line has clearly expressed, “Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.” However, it would be our fault if we expect Noynoy to change everything for the better without our sustained support and vigilance. Renewing democracy is not only about electing new leaders but more importantly it is about renewing people’s participation in shaping the destiny of a nation. The real power lies with us, the citizens of this land.