Thursday, September 2, 2010

COMMANDING OR MONITORING? (Which of President Aquino’s statements is correct on his exact role during the hostage crisis?)

By Siesta-friendly

We find some contradictory statements by President Aquino, in the aftermath of the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis, quite disturbing as they show to us 1) a possible amount of lying to the public and even to another head of government no less, 2) a degree of deflecting government liability despite complete video coverage of the entire hostage situation and the government’s visible inadequate responses, and 3) an over-all lack of integrity on a nation’s leader.

There are many reasons to resent President Aquino’s decisions in relation to the hostage crisis: a) the lack of noticeable sadness and seriousness (with frequent smiling while at times seemingly arrogant or casual with arms folded across his chest) shortly after the deaths of innocent lives as seen during his press conference a few hours after the crisis – the conference seemed more akin to an informal discussion than a sad moment of reflection immediately following the loss of 8 innocent lives; b) a lack of concern for the hostages having failed to ever visit them the few days they remained in the country while being able to inspect the crime scene the day after the crisis (while not forgetting to carry over the smiles he had during the previous night’s presscon); c) the refusal to direct even a hint of blame for the deaths on the government’s decision to be patient with the hostage-taker despite several opportunities to disable him; d) frequent finger-pointing at the media as major contributor to the deaths.  We could go on and on.

But we take issue now on the president’s statements regarding his exact role during the crisis.

In his first press conference a few hours after the hostage crisis, President Aquino replied to the question why it took him so long “to come out and face the nation” as follows:

“… the ground commander has to be given confidence. He is the person who is there at the site, who will have to make the snap decisions if necessary and it does not help him to have somebody looking over his shoulder and micro-managing everything that he has to do.

So consciously, from the morning since we were informed of this incident, we were asking to be kept apprised of the developments, but consciously, it had to [unintelligible]. We delegated the authority to the rightful persons who are tasked to carry out the functions of the state given the situations.”[1] [emphasis supplied]

In the same presscon, when asked if he had plans to call Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, Aquino mentioned:

“… mula kaninang umaga hinihingi kong ma-update sa lahat ng developments.  Ngayong gabi po, siniusubukan kong maunawaan yung kabuoan nung ng nangyari …” [since this morning, I had asked to be updated of all developments.  Tonight, I am trying to understand the entirety of what happened][2]

Nowhere in the above statements is there any indication that Aquino did more than inquire about what was going on.  And definitely, no indication that he was engrossed in commanding or even supervising the government’s actions to what were unfolding at the Quirino Grandstand.  Aquino’s statements above jibe with his Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang’s statements that Aquino was [just] monitoring the hostage situation and was [only] being updated of the events.[3] 

Both Aquino and Carandang’s statements are in harmony with the subsequent senate investigation last week which found that Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim was head of the local crisis committee and thus the civilian in-charge of the hostage situation.[4]

YET, in explaining to Mr. Tsang why he was unable to return the latter’s call (the South China Morning Post reports Tsang’s office made 2 calls, the 1st at 4 p.m. and the 2nd at 8 p.m.), Aquino says, in the words of Donald Tsang:

After his telephone conversation with the president on Tuesday, Tsang said in a video posted on the internet: "The first thing he told me was that he was sorry for not having called me back [on Monday] because he was then busy commanding the operation."[5] [emphasis supplied]

Another version of possibly the same video address states Donald Tsang’s words as follows:

“President Aquino rang me up and he apologized for the event. He felt particularly sorrowful for what had happened and he also apologized that he could not return my call because he was totally engaged in supervising the operation," he said in a video address on Friday. [emphasis supplied]

That Aquino deemed himself too busy to call or even return the call of a head of government at a time of national importance to the latter and his people is distressing.  It shows disrespect and disregard. 

But how then do we assess the apparent contradictory statements of the president: his assertions that imply he did no more than be updated of the developments relating to the hostage situation against his claims that he was too busy to even return the calls of another head of government worried about the latter’s fellow citizens? 

It doesn’t end there - Aquino has been reported to have said he did not know Tsang called.[6]

So, Aquino tells Tsang he was too busy to return his call at the same time admitting that he did not know Tsang called. Which is which?

All these statements cannot be taken lightly especially because of their national significance as to his role during the hostage crisis as well as the international implication as to the truth of his unavailability to be reached by Hong Kong’s head of government and the over-all significance of the suspicion of untruthfulness on the part of our nation’s leader.

It’s barely 2 months after his inauguration and President Aquino has already failed a leadership test.  Would he also fail a lie detector test?

Dare to be true. Nothing can need a lie:
a fault which needs it most, grows two thereby.
George Herbert

[1]  (1/3) manila hostage crisis - 1st live press conference noynoy aquino (full coverage) 08-24-2010 . (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from
[2]  (2/3) manila hostage crisis - 1st live press conference noynoy aquino (full coverage) 08-24-2010 . (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from
[3]  Adriatico , F. (2010, August 25). Retr ieved from
[4]  Mendez, C. (2010, August 27). 'Lim headed hostage crisis committee' . Retrieved from
[5]  Robles , R, & Fung, F. (2010, August 26). Tsang's phone calls stopped with aquino's aides. Retrieved from
[6]  Tordesillas, E. (2010, August 25). Aquino calls up donald tsang. Retrieved from


No comments: