Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III has lost the confidence of the Filipino people. This time, the trust he continues to squander hits a government service critical to the wellbeing of ordinary Filipinos — the police force. The loss of 44 of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP’s) finest officers to the savagery of the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has dealt a fatal blow to the morale of the already demoralised law enforcement agency.
As if it weren’t enough that the PNP’s chief is currently suspended over corruption allegations and, yet, somehow implicated in the botched planning and operations that led to this appalling carnage, President BS Aquino also failed to appease the public in the critical hours following the breaking of the tragic news. To add insult to injury, President BS Aquino spent (and continues to spend) his energies — and dwindling political capital — distancing himself and, worse, washing his hands off this affair. That’s no surprise considering that at the root of this mess is his violation of a fundamental principle upheld by most decent governments — that terrorists are not people to negotiate with.
Reports have been trickling in surrounding how grieving family and friends of the SAF troopers have been giving President BS Aquino the “cold shoulder” as he belatedly and feebly attempted to reach out to them. So far, most of the big traditional mainstream media outlets have refrained from elaborating on these otherwise newsworthy observations. But the news is spreading through other social network channels (both new- and old-tech) just the same. The message is coming across to a broader public — President BS Aquino is toast.
The even bigger tragedy here is that it took Filipinos five long years to figure out that President BS Aquino is a failed president by design. His lack of statesmanship, vision, and deep insight into fundamental issues plaguing the Philippines has been evident from Day One. Day One of his campaign, that is. All he had going for him was his pedigree platform which worked wonders for an electorate that, at the time, was hopelessly dazzled by the Yellow glow of the medieval propaganda of the Aquino and Cojuangco feudal clans.
To be fair, there is much about the events that led to the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos that needs to be understood. But the fact remains that President BS Aquino alone is in the best position to (1) assure us that the truth is eventually revealed and (2) communicate that truth to the public. Until the president grows a big enough pair to do just that, the public will judge him on the basis of the information that is currently publicly-available. Politcs, in a democracy that upholds free inqury, remember?
But even without that detail, President BS Aquino as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and ultimate head of the Philippine police is accountable. That’s what being a president is all about.
As for the MILF, what else are they but criminals? That they illegally bear arms alone already makes them so. No amount of history lessons can change the fact that the MILF are terrorists. I’ve been using the word “terrorist” as a qualifier for my references to the MILF for years now and nobody has called me out about this to date. Lawyers may plead insanity or bad upbringing even as a defense for the behaviour of homicidal maniacs. But that does not change the homicidal nature of said maniac and what needs to be done to prevent him from doing any further damage to society. Society still needs to be protected from them. Their ability to kill needs to be neutralised.
It is, of course, nice that these terrorists were “willing to negotiate”. I’ve never disputed that this is a good first step. But hard terms are important when undertaking negotiations with criminals. The problem with President BS Aquino is he negotiated with them as equals. So while there is some credence to the popular point that BS Aquino was not wrong about “taking an unprecedented stance in pushing a peace deal with the MILF”, the fact remains that the approach he took to go about it was classic BS Aquino brand incompetence — flawed at the most fundamental levels of its design.
History cannot protect the MILF from fact of their savagery, much the same way that history was of no use to the Sultan of Sulu’s claim to the island of Borneo.
As President BS Aquino’s henchmen argued during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, this is now a political exercise. Fair or unfair, public opinion today rather than history is what will judge the Aquino administration in this instance. We can quote history all we like just as we like quoting history to highlight all the rest of the “unfairness” of a lot of the issues that routinely crush the Philippines’ hopes of becoming a better country. But ultimately, what the future holds is what matters. And that future will not be determined by feel-good stories spun about the past.
Perhaps invoking plausible deniability — this “I have no idea what happened because I just woke up from my nap” argument that is the position BS Aquino takes today — might work for the administration in this instance. But step back up to the bigger picture and we see that excuse for what it is — the underlying fundamental issue behind the wholesale failure of the Second Aquino Reich.
BS Aquino’s promise to eradicate corruption — and consequently, as his logic goes, the poverty that it supposedly causes — is premised on the notion that he will be in control; squarely on the driver’s seat. Because, if you think about it, the only way to stamp out the deeply-ingrained criminality in the Philippine government, is with an iron fist, a focus on results, and a keen eye for legal strategy.
So far BS Aquino and his henchmen have displayed none of the above. But then a failure to deliver results is bad enough. Causing damage where there once was none is an even bigger failure.
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