Friday, January 29, 2010

Doy Laurel's Ordeal

Perhaps the most painful ordeal in Salvador H. Laurel's political life arose from the broken promises of Corazon C. Aquino very early in her presidency. When on 11 December 1985 she agreed to run under the banner of the UNIDO party, which Laurel organized and led, she promised him that he would be the Prime Minister (under the 1973 Constitution) and that he would be closely consulted for most of the Cabinet appointments. Instead, from the first few months of her presidency, a Palace "cordon sanitaire" gradually and systematically denied him access to her. She also refused to be identified with the UNIDO right after assuming the presidency.
Here is an excerpt from the 13 August 1988 Open Letter that Vice-President Doy sent to President Cory and which concluded with his announcement that he was completely disassociating himself from her administration:
"Despite my limited access to you, I tried to focus your attention on the need for a well-defined program of government. Such a program was made available to you by UNIDO from the very start when it made you its presidential candidate. But in total disregard of all political norms, you completely ignored the party platform, refused to acknowledge your obligations to the party that sponsored your bid for power, and tolerated all open or underhanded assaults against it.
"If I have held my peace until now in spite of your decision to ignore me altogether and to listen instead only to the counsel of those whose political, economic and social interests are more congruent with your own, it is because my sense of responsibility for the new government goes much farther back in time. It was I who, although already nominated for President by the UNIDO National Convention in June 1985, offered you, not a million signatures on a petition, but a solid pre-existing political party with nationwide roots and structures that would assure you of victory and a chance to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our suffering people.
"While I accept my share of moral responsibility for having helped place your administration in power, that responsibility must be proportionate to the actual opportunity given to participate in the decision-making process. That opportunity was close to zero."

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