Nothing difficult in apologizing, FVR tells Aquino
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - March 18, 2015 - 6:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Fidel Ramos urged President Benigno Aquino III to apologize over his perceived violations of the Philippine National Police chain of command, resulting in the biggest combat loss in recent memory.

Ramos, who founded the police Special Action Force (SAF) as head of the Philippine Constabulary, said in a press conference broadcast over radio that Aquino, like his predecessor, should show humility.

"Saying 'I am sorry' humbly and sincerely would probably do 90 percent of the job," Ramos said.

"What is so difficult about that? As a previous president said, 'I am sorry.' That removed a lot of pressure on that person, although eventually things came up to cause her temporary detention in a hospital," Ramos added, referring to former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Ramos also belied statements of the Department of Justice and Malacañang that Aquino does not have command responsibility in the Philippine National Police, especially in cases of botched operations like the Mamasapano mission.

'Chain of command applies to PNP'

He cited Executive Order 226, issued in February 1995 while he was president, which institutionalizes the doctrine of command responsibility law enforcement agencies.

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“Any violation of this Executive Order by any government official, supervisor, officer of the PNP and that of any law enforcement agency shall be held administratively accountable for violation of existing laws, rules and regulations,” the order read.

Ramos said that Aquino, while president, can only be held liable through an impeachment, but may face charges over the January 25 clash of the SAF with Moro rebels in Mamasapano once his term ends.

“At a later time, it will no longer by administrative but imposed by a court of law and the court may impose both criminal and administrative punishment,” Ramos said.

Administrative punishment includes temporary suspension from office, withholding of pay and reduction of leave benefits and applies to lesser officials.

Ramos said his executive order still applies to government institutions because it has not been rescinded.

“There is a chain of command in the PNP and this is the one but it also applies to all agencies. It goes without saying even in the private corporate world, there is chain of command and command responsibility,” the former president said.

Aquino called himself the commander-in-chief of the PNP in various occasions including the PNP Academy graduation rites in 2013.

“My mandate as your commander-in-chief is clear and following the law is not optional,” the president told graduating police cadets.

The Mamasapano incident has eroded Aquino’s popularity, with his approval and trust ratings plunging to an all-time low according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Ramos said the challenge confronting Aquino is part of his job as chief executive.

He said that those who hold the highest post in the land are also vulnerable to being accused of the "highest kinds of alleged crimes."

"This can happen to anybody, I faced the blue ribbon investigation as ex president," Ramos said. "This is the future that any president must be able to confront manfully and truthfully. This is part of the job." - Camille Diola and Alexis Romero

AQUINO COMMAND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND MALACA EXECUTIVE ORDER MAMASAPANO PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PRESIDENT RAMOS
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