They say never let the day end without apologizing to someone you have offended. Otherwise, if you wait a long time before saying, “I’m sorry”, feelings of anger could fester and as master Yoda would say, “anger leads to hate” and by the time you finally apologize, it could be too late.
For Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino, the words “I’m sorry” seems to be the hardest words to say. It could be because the concept behind the term “apology” is an alien concept to him. It could also be because the act of apologizing was not something he had to do much while growing up in a sheltered environment. Either way, members of the public who were angered by his actions pretty much hate him now. This was evident in the latest survey, which saw the President’s approval rating go down from 59 percent in November 2014 to 38 percent in March 2015.
Apparently, two months after the tragic event dubbed the Mamasapano Clash – a gun battle that ensued between members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front – which resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF officers, BS Aquino seems to think that the public can still wait for an apology that might not even come. For now, he is merely seeking “understanding” from the public for his role in the operation.
Yes, BS Aquino wants the public to understand him but the problem is, he hasn’t said the right words that could motivate the public to understand his position. His latest speech during the Philippine National Police Academy commencement exercises at Camp General Mariano Castañeda in Silang only reinforced the public’s view that their “leader” is insensitive particularly at a time of national mourning and lacks the strength of character to take accountability for his actions.
Similar to BS Aquino’s previous speeches immediately after the Mamasapano clash, his latest speech conveniently left out the fact that he authorized a suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima to oversee a major operation. Clearly, BS Aquino wants the public to forget that he ignored the preventive suspension order issued to Purisima by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with a supposed anomalous contract the PNP entered into with a courier service in 2011.
It seems BS Aquino would do anything to save himself, including contradict his own statements. Previously, he said that his mobile phone was off and that he could not be reached while the tragedy was unfolding; but now he is claiming that his interpretation of the text messages from Purisima earlier in the day was “without urgency”. To quote BS Aquino:
“From what was texted, it appeared to me as if the operation in Mamasapano had ended, or was coming to an end, because mechanized units and artillery were already providing assistance.”
What he’s trying to say is, he didn’t feel the need to do anything because he thought things were under control. There is a Filipino saying that aptly describes BS Aquino’s predicament “Maraming namamatay sa maling akala.” Loosely translated, a lot of people die because of flawed assumptions. He can only blame himself for that.
The real mystery here is why BS Aquino and Purisima were using text messaging during a deadly operation. Could it be that even Purisima, who was BS Aquino’s preferred point of contact, also didn’t realize the urgency of the situation because he was not in the PNP’s office environment due to his suspension? Or could it be that Purisima was simply not even in “work mode” at that time due to his suspension? He could even have had his feet up in a relaxed environment at home in his “White House” while texting. That could explain why his text messages to BS Aquino were “without urgency”. BS Aquino should realize that speaking to Purisima on the phone and hearing the voices of his staff could have made a huge difference and could have helped him analyze the sense of urgency of the situation.
Had Purisima been in the PNP command post, he would have been in constant radio communication with PNP SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas during the operation and would have been able to radio the Armed Forces of the Philippines for help instead of exchanging text messages with his buddy, BS Aquino. Unfortunately, since he was suspended, Purisima probably had to be discreet in coordinating between Napenas and BS Aquino. He then failed to contact the AFP in time to rescue the SAFs who were still alive at 5am. He broke his word to Napenas that he’d take care of contacting the head of the military.
It was wrong for BS Aquino to put a suspended PNP Chief in charge of a major operation particularly when Purisima’s role was kept a secret from the acting PNP Chief Director General Leonardo Espina. BS Aquino insists that he ordered Purisima to inform Espina about the operation. It would have been wiser had the President insisted on including Espina in the briefings he had with Purisma and Napenas about Oplan Exodus in the first place. BS Aquino’s misguided trust in Purisima was a mistake that should not go unpunished. As for Napenas, he was just following “orders” from Purisima not to inform Espina and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II about the operation. It would have been hard for Napenas to ignore Purisima’s orders since he was the President’s buddy.
BS Aquino is good at muddling the issue and hopes that people will move on from the tragedy by saying this would be the last occasion he’ll speak on the issue. Despite not being transparent about what he knows and leaving the public in the dark, he said he is saddened that people come up with “speculations” instead of “facts”. He appears angry at not being asked before coming up with reports, referring to the Senate and the BOI reports. It’s as if it is easy for anyone to ask him. On the contrary, the people around him and his allies in government actually protect him from being asked. Some members of the House of Representatives plan to invite Aquino during their inquiry into Mamasapano but their idea was “shot-down” by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
BS Aquino should be reminded that three days after the Mamasapano clash, media correspondents during a press conference did ask him about what he knew but he didn’t want to answer simple questions like, say, what Purisima’s role was in the operation despite knowing full well what it was.
Had BS Aquino admitted to his error in judgment and asked for an apology immediately after the tragic event in Mamasapano, the public could have moved on sooner. Instead, the issue has dragged on for weeks because of his arrogance. Unfortunately for him, the public has noted his inconsistencies and insincerity. Only the most gullible and his most rabid supporters buy his lame excuses. Their numbers continue to get smaller.
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