Aquino gov’t failed to communicate gains effectively, Hilbay says

Lian Buan
Aquino gov’t failed to communicate gains effectively, Hilbay says
Acknowledging a problem of the past administration to which he belonged, the former solicitor general triggers negative reaction from ex-president Aquino's spokespersons

MANILA, Philippines – Feathers were ruffled within the opposition camp as a statement made by Aquino-time solicitor general Florin Hilbay rubbed the former presidential spokespersons the wrong way.

In an interview with radio DZMM on December 4, Hilbay was asked what he thought was the biggest mistake of former president Benigno Aquino III. He answered: “Sa tingin ko po it’s a communications problem more than anything else. Marami po silang mga nagawa, pero hindi po nila masyadong naipaalam dun sa iba’t ibang mga sektor ang kanilang mga nagagawa.”

(I think it was a communications problem more than anything else. They did a lot, but they weren’t able to inform the different sectors about these.)

Aquino’s former deputy presidential spokesperson Abi Valte reacted on Twitter, saying Hilbay was trying to raise his profile at the expense of their communications team. Hilbay is running for senator under the Oposisyon Koalisyon slate.

If [Hilbay] finds himself in a less than desirable place in the surveys, there are many ways available to him to improve that standing.”

In an interview for Rappler for #TheLeaderIWant series, Hilbay said he answered the radio anchor’s question in a “very positive and generous way.”

“I didn’t even refer to the communications team, I referred to a communications issue for the past administration, which included me,” said Hilbay, who was solicitor general during the Aquino administration.

Hilbay maintains communication was a problem that must be acknowledged.

“We also have to accept the reality that communications are a very complicated issue, dun din merong kakulangan (we also had shortcomings there), apart from all the other faults that we had when we were in power,” said Hilbay.


But more telling was the way that Valte, and even former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, reacted.

Valte said she didn’t want to air her reaction publicly as she had “avoided friction as much as I can.”

“Taking a swipe at the work of our team in order to establish a measure of independence from the Yellows – or the former president, for that matter – is not one that will get him votes,” Valte said. (READ: Barangay event kicks off opposition bid to overcome ‘dilawan’ handicap)

Within the same timeframe, Lacierda tweeted without mentioning Hilbay: “President Aquino’s administration may not have communicated as assiduously all the achievements as it should have but one thing we do not do is to claim credit or victory for the work of what other people did.”

Despite his being a part of the Aquino administration, Hilbay is not running under the Liberal Party, Aquino’s party. He has been endorsed by the Aksyon Demokratiko, and was one of the last to join the LP-led Oposisyon Koalisyon slate.

“Because I see myself as a new voice, I really don’t see myself as a politician, it’s a good idea to go to a party like Aksyon Demokratiko,” said Hilbay of the party founded by the late senator Raul Roco.

“Aksyon Demokratiko was the party of Senator Raul Roco, very progressive politician. I think they’re also rebuilding so it’s a good way to start fresh, to start as a new candidate,” Hilbay said. – 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.