POSTSCRIPT / April 5, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Lent is the best time for Noy to say sorry

OREMUS: President Noynoy Aquino may be surprised to know that some of his critics have been praying for him, and the country.

In Pulse Asia’s nationwide Ulat ng Bayan survey of March 1-7 where the President scraped a net trust rating of only 9 percent (36 [trust] – 27 [no trust]), there was a wavering 37 percent still undecided whether to trust or not to trust him.

It must be unnerving for somebody who marched out waving approval and trust ratings in the high 70s, to be hit now by a net trust rating of 9 percent with many followers lost among the 37 percent who are unsure if their president still deserves their trust and approval.

The President should snap out of his stubborn state of denial and face the deteriorating situation frontally. By “frontally” we meaning with honesty and humility.

* * *

HUMBLING HIMSELF: This penitential and forgiving season of Lent is the best time for the President to confess his sins, so to speak, say sorry and make a firm resolve to make reparation.

Unless the President is no longer sure of himself and is ready to cry “consummatum est!”, he should quickly reach out to the 36 percent still trusting him as of last month and to the wavering 37 percent. He might just recover his poll standing if he acts fast.

Even Pope Francis, leader and father of some 1.23 billion Catholics all over the world, prostrated himself on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica last Friday in humble prayer before the rites of the Passion of Christ.

The day before, the Pontiff washed the feet of 12 inmates — six men and six women one of whom carried her son on her lap — at Rome’s main prison to show his willingness to serve. As the inmates wept, Francis knelt down, washed a foot apiece, dried it and then kissed it.

* * *

HUBRIS: The Holy Father asked the inmates to pray that he, too, might be cleansed of his “filth.”

That footnote reminds us, peasants and presidents alike, of our own sinfulness and of the need for admitting our errors, saying sorry and making amends before we presume to take the “tuwid na daan”.

Many Filipinos are actually praying for President Aquino, that he emerge from Easter Sunday with a humble admission of his executive frailty, his being truly sorry for his major mistakes and his resolve to promptly correct them.

That is too much for the President to do? Yes, that is too much for Noynoy Aquino — if the power has gone to his head, if he is now so filled with high pride, of hubris, that there is no more room for mercy and reconciliation.

* * *

QUESTIONS: Many of the issues pulling down President Aquino revolve around his constitutionally challenged handling of taxpayers’ money and his questioned actions on security situations climaxed by the Mamasapano massacre of Jan. 25.

Mamasapano called attention to Mr. Aquino’s actions as Commander-in-Chief and his policy stand on controversial provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that he is urging the Congress to pass for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Before the Congress went into its Lenten recess, a House bloc submitted 20 questions on Mamasapano for the President to answer. He has answered a few of them, but some are still hanging:

• If PNP Chief Alan Purisima was only an “expert adviser” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC (Deputy Director General Leonardo) Espina and AFP Chief of Staff (General Gregorio Pio) Catapang and that he did not follow your order?

• Why didn’t you, as Commander-in-Chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the SAF, instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?

• When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF Director (Getulio) Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command? Did you not violate the suspension order of the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?

• What did you and Purisima talk about during the Jan. 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, “Sabihan mo na ang dalawa (referring to Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Gen. Espina) kapag andun na. Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang”?

• With all the updates/information you received in the morning about the SAF engagements, why did you not get a sense of urgency to mobilize necessary forces and resources to reinforce and rescue the SAF commandos?

• What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if any? Did you issue any pronouncement to anyone to consider the peace process with the MILF in implementing the rescue?

• Did you give any order to stand down? Did you not give orders to Catapang or Pangilinan not to fire artillery in Mamasapano, where the 55th SAC was engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks?

• Why was there no air support at Mamasapano when there were two helicopters and two airplanes deployed to secure you in Zamboanga?

• What can you say about Napeñas’ statement that you left them hanging (“iniwan kami sa ere”) and that this is the highest form of betrayal? Napeñas claims that the agreement in the Jan. 9 meeting was “time on target.” Did you expressly disapprove “time on target coordination” and order Napeñas to coordinate with the AFP one day or more before the operations?

• Why did you allow US intervention — from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the operation and the subsequent evacuation? Why did you find it necessary to work with the US, but not with DILG Secretary Roxas, PNP OIC Espina or AFP Chief Catapang?

• What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in Mamasapano?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 5, 2015)

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