Tossing the buck to Napeñas

STRAWS IN THE WIND - Eladio C. Dioko - The Freeman

When the news was aired that Malacañang was organizing a prayer gathering among religious leaders, speculations were entertained by some people that perhaps President Aquino would finally issue a public apology for his failure to prevent the Mamasapano massacre. As revealed in the Senate investigation PNoy was closely involved in the various phases of Oplan Exodus including the fact that early on January 25 he was informed that an armed encounter was already taking place between the SAF team and armed groups in the area.

PNoy however did not apologize during the gathering.  What happened was that in the solemn atmosphere of prayerful people he vehemently maintained his innocence. Worse, he tossed the blame on resigned SAF chief GetulioNapeñas saying the latter failed to give him the correct information about the events on the ground. What about former PNP chief Allan Purisima who admitted in the investigation that he was involved, even though under suspension, in the whole operation? PNoy did not even whisper his name. Is the president trying to cover up Purisima's role in the botched operation?

For the death of 44 SAF men-young, courageous, promising men--some sectors have been calling for PNoy's resignation. The general feeling, however, is that resignation is not the right thing. But an apology is.

Whether PNoy was not properly informed by Napeñas about what was happening only Napeñas knows. But it is difficult to believe that a PNP officer would keep his commander-in-chief in the dark during those crucial moments. His men were under fire and he knew as a military man what would happen if no reinforcement was sent. Could he afford to misinform the very source of that reinforcement?

Mea culpa is really not in the vocabulary of the president. He is the apex in the hierarchy of authority among men in uniform. Whatever happens affecting the rank and file, therefore, affects him even if he is not directly involved in the happening. But in the Exodus adventure (or misadventure) he was in the thick of it all. Where's the doctrine of command responsibility? Where is the buck supposed to stop?

Tossing the blame on someone else for some unfortunate happening has been done by PNoy before. Remember the Hongkong hostage crises early in his watch? For the death of eight tourists the president never showed any sense of guilt. So he issued no apology.

An apology implies of course acceptance of guilt. The act requires humility and strength of character, and while that character can be tainted by the sorrows attendant to the event it can also be praise-worthy for courage and sense of being human.

Leadership does not isolate a person from human tendencies. He may appear high and mighty, but he remains a human being through and through, subject to faults and errors. If PNoy admits that somewhere along the Mamasapano way he erred and admits it, people would understand and even admire him for sincerity and truthfulness, and more important, for humility. Such are the qualities of a true leader.

History is replete with events when leaders publicly acknowledged responsibility to serious happenings, and either resigned or committed harakiri (in the case of Japanese leaders). Others did neither but went on leading outstandingly after taking damage control.

[email protected].











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