Aquino years in review (mine)

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2015 - 9:00am

In 2010, I was told by confidential sources that we should be very careful about who we elect as president. I thought that as a journalist I would open a topic for discussion. That did not happen but as my sources consoled me – just think when all is said and done you can say “I told you so.” Some consolation. That is what I will write about today.

At first I did not understand the words of warning “walang ka-drive drive.” Indeed I found it harmless criticism because not everyone needs to be an A-personality to achieve aims and goals. It is only now that many others and I understand what that warning “walang ka-drive drive” was all about. It had  a whole array of implications but these came out bit by bit, event after event until it reached where we are today.

But first a little introduction. As soon as Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 election the Liberal International held its convention in Manila. This it seat of liberalism from which it could spread out to other countries in the region. Liberal parliamentarians from all over the world came in a triumphant event  because a Liberal had won big in the Philippines. There are liberalisms and liberalisms. We were soon to know what that meant in pushing for a personality – Benigno Aquino III – in the service of the liberal political philosophy. It came in bits and pieces and some mattered more to others. Here are the events I consider most important that finally revealed the meaning of “walang ka-drive drive.”

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The first debacle that reflected Aquino’s character was the way he handled the Luneta fiasco when Chinese tourists were killed by uncoordinated police action.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao asked for an apology from Aquino indirectly accusing the Philippine government was partly to blame for the deaths. He came to the scene too late and was caught by the camera smiling. There were also stories that instead of going straight to Luneta to talk to the police officers and the bus which carried the hostages, he had passed by to eat siopao in the Emerald restaurant nearby. 

Another story said he was reportedly asleep when his aide notified him of the incident. All this incensed the Chinese. Mr. Aquino was surprised at the  diplomatic protest because he claimed  the DFA said the issue was a dead one. Investigations were made by both the Chinese and Filipino governments and the blame was traced to a bungled police operation. Aquino did not think it was something to apologize for.

*      *      *

Two years after Typhoon Yolanda, no one can say for certain how many people perished. Police estimated at the time some 7,000 casualties and 1,800 missing or presumed dead which was the projection made by police Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria. He was sacked as Eastern Visayas regional head for saying the number of fatalities could reach 10,000.

Up to this day nothing substantial has come out after so much aid was brought in by international donors. The Taiwanese Buddhist NGO was able to raise P1 billion.

Until today Tacloban remains in ruins. A recent picture showed makeshift houses of galvanized iron and wooden posts as housing aid despite the millions poured in to houses for the victims who had lost their homes.

The donations from local and international donors are said to be unaccounted for. The response from the international community was quick and substantial but up to this day people were asking where did it all go? Nobody knows.

The Aquino government simply was not able to cope or administer the disaster, said leading CNN’s Anderson Cooper when he landed in Tacloban in the early days when it seemed no government was in charge but plenty of political bickering.

Roxas refusing to move because the mayor was a Romualdez and the President was an Aquino. The political bickering and blame shifting took place even at a time when they needed to cooperate to save the victims and restore order in the city.

Because of the politics involved, Aquino did not attend the anniversary commemoration of the typhoon disaster.

As if Tacloban officials didn’t have enough problems they had to cope with what they called insensitive government officials chiefly the President himself. They talked about Benigno Simeon Aquino’s “unprofessional conduct and behavior unbecoming of a statesman.”

*      *      *

The Mamasapano massacre of elite special action force takes the cake in this review on what went wrong close at the end of the term of Benigno Aquino III.

It was in Mamasapano in Maguindanao that the bloody encounter between the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police and Muslim rebels took place. But the question remains on who is to blame for the deaths of the Special Police because Aquino did not send help that might have saved them.

Aquino included it in his last Sona but it was about half-truths with Aquino leaving out crucial details that would hide his complicity for the deaths. It is now known that he may have been conducting the operations nearby when the decision was made to abandon the police. The reason is not clear. Strangely DILG Secretary Mar Roxas quickly referred to the brutal incident as a “misencounter.” The PNP Chief in a press conference confirmed this statement. Yet it took President Aquino three days before speaking about it and making incoherent and contradictory statements to clear his officials chiefly General Purisima who was said to have been in charge of the planning and operation. Could Purisima have taken the decisions that led to the deaths of the Special Police Forces?

At the same time that President Aquino refused to condemn the massacre he was also pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law. There was speculation that the operation was made covert because of millions of dollars in reward money for the terrorist targets. Malaysian terrorist bomber Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir (aka Marwan), one of the two terrorists targeted by SAF, carries $5 million bounty. The other target, Basit Usman, has a $1 million bounty. There are malicious reports that the SAF and others involved in the secret operation may have wanted to claim the reward money for themselves hence the covert and uncoordinated operation.

These three events are enough to show why Aquino should never have been elected President. Nor I would add whoever the LP candidate who will continue  its incompetence.


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