PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

AQUINO's RATINGS SINK TO LOWEST AFTER MAMASAPANO FIASCO


President Benigno Aquino III, wearing a black arm band, leaves the podium shortly after offering prayers for the police commandos killed in the January 25 Mamasapano mission. AP/Bullit Marquez   MANILA, Philippines - Facing his biggest political crisis over the deadly Mamasapano mission, President Benigno Aquino III registered his lowest overall approval and trust ratings since winning the May 2010 elections, Pulse Asia said Tuesday.  Based on the results of the March 2015 Pulse Asia survey, Aquino's approval rating plunged from 59 percent last November to 38 percent this March while his trust rating dropped from 56 percent to 36 percent in the same period.  Pulse Asia said this is the first time Aquino has not obtained majority national approval and trust ratings in its surveys since he was first rated as president back in October 2010. The polling firm also noted that Aquino's disapproval and distrust ratings increased from November 2014 to March 2015. The number of Filipinos who disapproved Aquino's performance rose from 11 percent to 23 percent while those who distrust him increased from 13 percent to 27 percent.  "Around one in four Filipinos is critical of presidential performance and distrusts him," Pulse Asia said. Pulse Asia said Aquino's approval and trust ratings eroded in all geographic areas as well as in Classes ABC and D. READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay still top presidential bet; Poe next, Erap 3rd tied with Duterte who passed Miriam, Marcos; Mar at bottom with others


The March 2015 survey on Filipinos' presidential preference showed Vice President Jejomar Binay getting the support of the 29 percent of voters. File photo  MANILA, Philippines - Despite the persistent corruption allegations against him, Vice President Jejomar Binay remains to be the top presidential contender for the 2016 national elections, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey. The March 2015 survey on Filipinos' presidential preference released on Tuesday showed Binay getting the support of the 29 percent of voters, up from 26 percent in November 2014. Sen. Grace Poe is still in second place even if her voter preference rating dipped from 18 percent to 14 percent. Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada moved up to third place after his rating increased from 10 percent to 12 percent. Tied with Estrada was Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was not among the possible presidential candidates included in the previous Pulse Asia surveys. READ MORE....

ALSO Nora Aunor on Aquino: ‘He should not have been elected president’
[She wore a black shirt saying “Proud to Be Filipino, Ashamed of my Government.”]


Nora Aunor joins protest march commemorating 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion photo by Christian Yamzon
MANILA, Philippines — “He should not have been elected president.”  This was what actress Nora Aunor said on Tuesday when he urged President Benigno Aquino III to resign following “blunders” committed under his administration such as the Mamasapano debacle which killed at least 65 people. “What is important for me is to recognize that he made blatant mistakes in his decisions that’s why I would really like for him to step down,” Aunor said. “I think this government is more repressive than others. Because he (Aquino) is not doing anything. I think he does not know what is happening. He should not have been elected president,” the veteran actress said. Aunor joined the protest march commemorating the 20th death anniversary of domestic helper Flor Contemplacion who was hanged in Singapore in 1995 for murder. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: 20 senators sign report holding Noy responsible


President Aquino File photo  
MANILA, Philippines - Twenty senators have signed the 129-page Senate joint committee report that found President Aquino politically liable for the operation wherein 44 police commandos died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.  Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate joint committee that investigated the Mamasapano encounter, said a majority of the senators signed the report that also found suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima and sacked Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas equally liable.  Poe said the panel is waiting for the additional attachments from senators before presenting the report once the Senate resumes session in May.  The joint panel is composed of the Senate committees on peace and order and dangerous drugs, on finance, and on peace, unity and reconciliation.  Only Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Lito Lapid and Antonio Trillanes have not signed the report.  Senate President Franklin Drilon need not sign since he is not a member of any Senate committee.  Apart from Poe, Sens. Francis Escudero, Vicente Sotto III, Sergio Osmeña III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Alan Peter Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla Jr., JV Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara and Teofisto Guingona III signed the report.  Although abroad, Ejercito signed via electronic signature. READ MORE...

ALSO BOI head: President exercised his prerogative on Mamasapano operation


BOI head Magalong also surmised that Aquino was hurt by the BOI report.  he Board of Inquiry (BOI) chairman maintained on Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino III did not violate the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) chain of command although he “bypassed” the organizational structure of the 150,000-strong force. “The established PNP chain of command was bypassed but we did not mention any liability of the President. We did not say (in the report) that he violated the chain of command. He just exercised his prerogative,” Magalong told reporters in an interview in Camp Crame. Magalong’s clarification came after Aquino summoned on Tuesday the BOI members for a lunch meeting in Malacañang. In the 128-page report, the BOI stated in its findings: The Chain of Command in the PNP was violated. The President, the suspended CPNP Purisima and the former Director SAF (Getulio) Napeñas kept the information to themselves and deliberately failed to inform the OIC PNP and the SILG.”  This had been interpreted by many as Aquino violating the PNP chain of command when he dealt directly with Police Director Napeñas and Director General Alan Purisima, who was already suspended as PNP chief over corruption allegations. READ MORE...

ALSO: No solid ground to impeach PNoy - Palace spokesperson


President Benigno Aquino 3rd  
A bungled police operation in Mamasapano, is not solid enough to cause the removal of President Benigno Aquino 3rd from power, a Malacañang spokesperson said on Wednesday. The Palace insisted that the President did not break any law during the Mamasapano mission, and that he was not to blame for the debacle.  Its deputy spokesperson, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, said notwithstanding findings of the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) and the Senate committee on public order and security and dangerous drugs, which separately investigated the botched January 25 operation, there are not enough grounds to impeach the President. Both the PNP-BOI and the Senate panel found Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the mission that resulted in the killing of 44 Special Action Force troops and for violating the PNP chain of command. READ MORE...

ALSO FVR to Aquino: Just say sorry. What is so difficult about saying sorry?


STEADY EDDIE Former president Fidel V. Ramos holds a copy of Executive Order 226 which he issued when he was the nation’s leader. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN STEADY EDDIE Former president Fidel V. Ramos holds a copy of Executive Order 226 which he issued when he was the nation’s leader. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN  
WHAT is so difficult about saying sorry?   Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Tuesday posed this question as he gave his unsolicited advice for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to take responsibility for the botched Mamasapano mission and apologize to the people for the wrong done to the nation. Ramos, who called a news briefing as he turned 87 on Wednesday, said the President could not shake off responsibility for the bungled police mission that resulted in the killing of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force since he is the Commander-in-Chief of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.  “Saying ‘I am sorry’ humbly and sincerely would probably do 90 percent of the job but since the hurt has gone so much deeper than what it was really originally, based on his absence from Villamor Air Base on the 29th of January when the 42 coffins first arrived, since then so much has happened in terms of I will call it recalcitrance of Malacañang,” the former President said. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Aquino's ratings sink to lowest after Mamasapano fiasco


President Benigno Aquino III, wearing a black arm band, leaves the podium shortly after offering prayers for the police commandos killed in the January 25 Mamasapano mission. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, MARCH 23, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - Facing his biggest political crisis over the deadly Mamasapano mission, President Benigno Aquino III registered his lowest overall approval and trust ratings since winning the May 2010 elections, Pulse Asia said Tuesday.

Based on the results of the March 2015 Pulse Asia survey, Aquino's approval rating plunged from 59 percent last November to 38 percent this March while his trust rating dropped from 56 percent to 36 percent in the same period.

Pulse Asia said this is the first time Aquino has not obtained majority national approval and trust ratings in its surveys since he was first rated as president back in October 2010.

The polling firm also noted that Aquino's disapproval and distrust ratings increased from November 2014 to March 2015.

The number of Filipinos who disapproved Aquino's performance rose from 11 percent to 23 percent while those who distrust him increased from 13 percent to 27 percent.

"Around one in four Filipinos is critical of presidential performance and distrusts him," Pulse Asia said.

Pulse Asia said Aquino's approval and trust ratings eroded in all geographic areas as well as in Classes ABC and D.

Criticism for presidential performance became more manifest in Metro Manila and Class D.

Distrust became more marked in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon and Classes ABC and D.

The latest Pulse Asia survey polled 1,200 Filipino adults from March 1 to 7 or more than a month after the January 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) dead.

Aquino has been heavily criticized for refusing to take accountability for the bungled operation and for pinning all the blame on relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas.

Last week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI) report on the Mamasapano mission was released and concluded that Aquino broke the chain of command when he dealt directly with Napeñas and allowed then suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima to take part in the operation.

The BOI found that Aquino broke the chain of command when he bypassed PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and dealt directly with his close friend Purisima, who has since resigned.

Malacañang has insisted that Aquino did not violate the PNP chain of command. ..


PHILSTAR

Binay still top presidential bet; Duterte passes Miriam, Marcos By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated March 17, 2015 - 5:05pm


The March 2015 survey on Filipinos' presidential preference showed Vice President Jejomar Binay getting the support of the 29 percent of voters. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the persistent corruption allegations against him, Vice President Jejomar Binay remains to be the top presidential contender for the 2016 national elections, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.

The March 2015 survey on Filipinos' presidential preference released on Tuesday showed Binay getting the support of the 29 percent of voters, up from 26 percent in November 2014.

Sen. Grace Poe is still in second place even if her voter preference rating dipped from 18 percent to 14 percent.

Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada moved up to third place after his rating increased from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Tied with Estrada was Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was not among the possible presidential candidates included in the previous Pulse Asia surveys.

Following Estrada and Duterte were Sens. Miriam Defensor Santiago (9 percent) and Bongbong Marcos (6 percent) and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (4 percent), the presumptive standard-bearer of President Aquino's Liberal Party.

Next in the list were Sens. Chiz Escudero (4 percent), Alan Cayetano (3 percent) and Antonio Trillanes (2 percent).

Former Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon (both 1 percent) completed the list.

Vice presidential preference

Poe, the topnotcher of the 2013 senatorial elections, is still the top vice presidential contender for next year's polls with a voter preference rating of 29 percent.

Escudero was on second place (16 percent) followed by Cayetano (13 percent), Duterte (11 percent) and Marcos (11 percent).

Completing the list were Trillanes (6 percent), detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (4 percent), Senate President Franklin Drilon (3 percent), detained Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. (2 percent) and Congresswoman Leni Robredo (0.4 percent). ..


INQUIRER

Nora Aunor on Aquino: ‘He should not have been elected president’ Aries Joseph Hegina @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 5:14 PM | Tuesday, March 17th, 2015


Nora Aunor joins protest march commemorating 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion photo by Christian Yamzon

MANILA, Philippines — “He should not have been elected president.”

This was what actress Nora Aunor said on Tuesday when he urged President Benigno Aquino III to resign following “blunders” committed under his administration such as the Mamasapano debacle which killed at least 65 people.

“What is important for me is to recognize that he made blatant mistakes in his decisions that’s why I would really like for him to step down,” Aunor said.

“I think this government is more repressive than others. Because he (Aquino) is not doing anything. I think he does not know what is happening. He should not have been elected president,” the veteran actress said.

Aunor joined the protest march commemorating the 20th death anniversary of domestic helper Flor Contemplacion who was hanged in Singapore in 1995 for murder.

She wore a black shirt saying “Proud to Be Filipino, Ashamed of my Government.”

She said that her call for Aquino’s resignation came from the heart.

“I am not afraid. Whenever I talk, it always comes from the heart,” Aunor said.

The Superstar portrayed Contemplacion in the film The Flor Contemplacion Story.

Aunor also urged fellow Filipinos to join the call for Aquino’s resignation.

“I am urging the people who believe that the President is not doing anything beneficial for the country to go out and urge the President to resign,” she said.

Aquino did not pick Aunor as a National Artist in 2014 due to an alleged drug issue in the past.


PHILSTAR

20 senators sign report holding Noy responsible By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 19, 2015 - 12:00am


President Aquino File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty senators have signed the 129-page Senate joint committee report that found President Aquino politically liable for the operation wherein 44 police commandos died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate joint committee that investigated the Mamasapano encounter, said a majority of the senators signed the report that also found suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima and sacked Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas equally liable.

Poe said the panel is waiting for the additional attachments from senators before presenting the report once the Senate resumes session in May.

The joint panel is composed of the Senate committees on peace and order and dangerous drugs, on finance, and on peace, unity and reconciliation.

Only Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Lito Lapid and Antonio Trillanes have not signed the report.

Senate President Franklin Drilon need not sign since he is not a member of any Senate committee.

Apart from Poe, Sens. Francis Escudero, Vicente Sotto III, Sergio Osmeña III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Alan Peter Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla Jr., JV Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara and Teofisto Guingona III signed the report.

Although abroad, Ejercito signed via electronic signature.

“The Mamasapano committee report will be filed with the Senate, sponsored on the plenary by Sen. Poe, debated and approved in plenary,” Drilon said.

“I do not want to comment on the report as I do not want to preempt the senators,” Drilon added.

Estrada, in jail on plunder charges, placed a note after his signature that he will submit a separate opinion.

Sotto said he might also put in amendments, while Recto said he would submit additional observations.

Sen. Alan Cayetano said he signed with reservations since he is pushing to reopen the inquiry on issues that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) coddled Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed by the SAF during the operation.

He said that the investigation should continue so that a more complete presentation could be provided by the Senate.

Cayetano said that the committee report was good and strong but new information continues to come out and these have to be taken into consideration.

Trillanes said that the report is incomplete and because of this he has not signed it yet.

He said that there were several details that he wanted to see in the committee report but were not included.

He said that, among others, the report should have mentioned what happened to the other SAF companies that were in the Mamasapano area.

The Senate panel disputed the claim of Malacañang and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that President Aquino had not violated the chain of command when he dealt with Purisima in the planning and execution of Operation Plan Exodus despite his suspension.

“The PNP chain of command was violated,” the report said.

Since the PNP is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Senate committee report said the President, as Chief Executive, exercises supervision and control over the department.

“Thus, given that the President gave the policy direction to arrest Marwan and Usman, and that he approved Oplan Exodus with full knowledge of its operational details, the Chief Executive is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the mission,” the Senate’s findings read.

While there are claims that the PNP officials did not commit any criminal offense because they were involved in a legitimate law enforcement operation, the Senate panel said this could not be used as a defense to escape liability under the doctrine of command responsibility.

“The President should still account for having assented to the unlawful participation of PDG Purisima in Oplan Exodus,” it added.

The Senate report disagreed with the stand of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who declared that the “chain of command” principle is not applicable to the PNP.

During the Senate hearings, De Lima maintained that the chain of command applies only to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is headed by the President in his capacity as commander-in-chief.

Being a civilian agency, de Lima said the principle of “chain of command” and the doctrine of “command responsibility” do not apply to the PNP.

“The Committees disagree,” the report read.

“In every organization, whether in the government or the private sector, there is always a hierarchical structure through which authority is exercised. This is the essence of a ‘chain of command’,” the report added.

“While the term is often associated with the military, it has been applied to hierarchical structures in civilian government agencies and private enterprises as well,” it added.

‘Appoint permanent PNP chief’

The Senate committee also recommended to President Aquino to immediately appoint a permanent PNP chief in a bid to provide better leadership in the police force to enable the country to move on after the unfortunate death of 44 SAF commandos during the encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano.

“One of the most urgent actions that the President should consider at this time is the appointment of a permanent Director General of the PNP,” the Senate report read.

Suspended PNP chief Purisima had resigned from his post after the Mamasapano debacle.

“In the appointment of the new (PNP) Director General, the President must consider worthy integrity, strong patriotism and the ability to uphold the law and the capacity to inspire the 120,000-strong police force,” according to the report of the joint committee. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Marvin Sy ..


INQUIRER

BOI head: President exercised his prerogative on Mamasapano operation Julliane Love De Jesus @JLDejesusINQ INQUIRER.net 4:38 PM | Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines—The Board of Inquiry (BOI) chairman maintained on Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino III did not violate the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) chain of command although he “bypassed” the organizational structure of the 150,000-strong force.

“The established PNP chain of command was bypassed but we did not mention any liability of the President. We did not say (in the report) that he violated the chain of command. He just exercised his prerogative,” Magalong told reporters in an interview in Camp Crame.

Magalong’s clarification came after Aquino summoned on Tuesday the BOI members for a lunch meeting in Malacañang.

In the 128-page report, the BOI stated in its findings: The Chain of Command in the PNP was violated. The President, the suspended CPNP Purisima and the former Director SAF (Getulio) Napeñas kept the information to themselves and deliberately failed to inform the OIC PNP and the SILG.”

This had been interpreted by many as Aquino violating the PNP chain of command when he dealt directly with Police Director Napeñas and Director General Alan Purisima, who was already suspended as PNP chief over corruption allegations.

Magalong also surmised that Aquino was hurt by the BOI report.

“Syempre nasaktan siya sa report. Makikita mo naman yon. Mararamdaman ko naman. Maski sino naman. Kung ako Presidente, mabasa ko ‘yon, hindi ba ako masasaktan? (Of course he was hurt by the report. You can see that clearly. I felt it. Anyone would [get hurt]. If I were the President, if I read that, wouldn’t I be hurt?)” Magalong said.

He revealed that Aquino called him for a lunch meeting on Tuesday “to clarify issues.”

Also present in the meeting were BOI member Chief Superintendent John Sosito, PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

“But his demeanor that time was very calm, very cordial. The discussion was free-flowing. No holds barred,” he added.

Magalong said Aquino even showed to him his cellphone and opened his SMS (short messaging service) exchanges with Purisima, a known close friend of the President.

But the BOI chairman, who admitted he was nervous as he talked with Aquino, assured that there was no pressure to change the report.

During the meeting, Magalong said he was “very straightforward” in asking questions to the President.

“‘Yung ibang mga tanong ko very direct kaya sinabihan ko siya na, ‘Sir, sana ‘wag kayong magalit’ (My other questions were very direct that’s why I told him, ‘Sir, hope you won’t get angry’),” he said.

But when asked if Aquino raised his voice at some point during the meeting, he said: “No, it was just like talking to my brother. And I respect the President for that.”


MANILA TIMES

No solid ground to impeach PNoy - Palace spokesperson  March 18, 2015 11:32 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER AND LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTER


President Benigno Aquino 3rd

A bungled police operation in Mamasapano, is not solid enough to cause the removal of President Benigno Aquino 3rd from power, a Malacañang spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The Palace insisted that the President did not break any law during the Mamasapano mission, and that he was not to blame for the debacle.

Its deputy spokesperson, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, said notwithstanding findings of the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) and the Senate committee on public order and security and dangerous drugs, which separately investigated the botched January 25 operation, there are not enough grounds to impeach the President.

Both the PNP-BOI and the Senate panel found Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the mission that resulted in the killing of 44 Special Action Force troops and for violating the PNP chain of command.

A draft Senate report was signed by at least 20 senators as of 7 p.m. last night, the office of Sen. Grace Poe said. Poe, who presided over the Senate inquiry, presented a summary of the report to the media on Tuesday.

“Obviously, we do not think so… As far as the executive is concerned, of course, we do not agree,” Valte said, referring to calls for the President to either resign or get impeached.

She, however, added that it is up to the House of Representatives to decide whether there are enough grounds to remove Aquino.

“At this point, it would be more important for them to look at Congress to see how its leaders feel about any moves to impeach the President,” Valte said.

According to her, the President showed leadership in the Mamasapano incident.

“I think you also have to look at how the President has dealt with the incident and how he has comported himself not just in the days after the incident itself but in succeeding days and weeks,” she said.

“He has continually look after the plight of the families that have been left behind,” Valte added.

Malacanang said Aquino may not be a “perfect President” but to make him apologize is far-fetched because “he was not given correct information.”

“I say this not because of my estimation but he had said this in the past, ‘Hindi ako perpektong tao at hindi rin ako perpektong Pangulo [I am not a perfect person and I am also not a perfect President].’ I think that particular statement from him shows a lot as well,” Valte said. She added that she believes Aquino could have done better if he was given the right information.

“You have to take it from the point of view of the President that he was not given correct information at the time that it was necessary. If you go back to the testimony that was given in the Senate hearings as well as the hearings in the [House of Representatives], the text to him, the first text to him informing him that artillery support was present and that extraction was ongoing… it was quite apparent and quite obvious that there was no urgency as it was presented to him, as it was conveyed to him,” Valte said.

She was referring to resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima’s role in Oplan Exodus, which intended to neutralize high-value targets in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.

Aquino previously blamed Purisima for giving him incorrect updates through text message, including the information that artillery and mechanized support were being used in aiding the embattled police commandos.

Meanwhile, Valte said the President stands ready to face lawsuits in the future, confident that none would prosper.

“He has made decisions that have, in his own words, upset the rice bowls of many, and that he is prepared and he expects that when he steps down, there will, there may be cases that may be filed against him,” she added.

She was reacting to a suggestion from former President Fidel Ramos that Aquino should admit his mistake and apologize to somehow relieve himself of pressure.

Ramos, in a news conference also on Wednesday said when he stepped down from office, he faced three Senate blue ribbon investigations and that Aquino should also expect the same treatment once his turn comes up.

But Valte said the Presideng does not mind, because “even before the January 25 incident the President has already been aware that he will be making decisions that may not please people.”


MANILA TIMES

FVR to Aquino: Just say sorry March 18, 2015 11:36 pm by ARES P. GUTIERREZ MANAGING EDITOR


STEADY EDDIE Former president Fidel V. Ramos holds a copy of Executive Order 226 which he issued when he was the nation’s leader. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN STEADY EDDIE Former president Fidel V. Ramos holds a copy of Executive Order 226 which he issued when he was the nation’s leader. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

WHAT is so difficult about saying sorry?

Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Tuesday posed this question as he gave his unsolicited advice for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to take responsibility for the botched Mamasapano mission and apologize to the people for the wrong done to the nation.

Ramos, who called a news briefing as he turned 87 on Wednesday, said the President could not shake off responsibility for the bungled police mission that resulted in the killing of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force since he is the Commander-in-Chief of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

“Saying ‘I am sorry’ humbly and sincerely would probably do 90 percent of the job but since the hurt has gone so much deeper than what it was really originally, based on his absence from Villamor Air Base on the 29th of January when the 42 coffins first arrived, since then so much has happened in terms of I will call it recalcitrance of Malacañang,” the former President said.

Ramos was referring to the Aquino’s conspicuous absence when the remains of the fallen troops arrived in Manila four days after the deadly encounter in Maguindanao, but turned up at inauguration of a car manufacturing plant in Laguna Ramos, who is acknowledged as the “father” of the SAF, which was created in the early 1980s when he was chief of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the Integrated National Police or INP (predecessor of the Philippine National Police), was also in the car event and managed to rush to Villamor Air Base to attend the arrival honors for the slain policemen.

Aquino attempted to make amends by attending the necrological service for the slain policemen as well as taking time to meet with the families, but the move failed to control the damage done by his absence.

A fuming Ramos told a radio station immediately after the event, “What is more important–to be with your fallen troops at this time when their respective families are wailing and crying out for justice, or trying to please investors who are already here expanding their business because we have good economic prospects?”

He said the President should take responsibility for the Mamasapano incident as he refuted Malacanang’s claims that the chain of command doctrine does not apply to the national police.

Ramos, the PC-INP director-general, before he was named chief of staff of the Armed Forces following the 1986 People Power revolution, said the doctrine of command responsibility is clearly spelled out in Executive Order 226, which he issued in February 1995 when he was the nation’s leader.

A government official who neglects his duty under the doctrine of command responsibility is administratively liable, he pointed out.

“Nobody in a superior position can claim to be automatically ignorant. It’s presumed that a supervisor knows about irregularities,” Ramos said.

“There is a chain of command that operates under the principle of command responsibility, and there’s no escaping that,” he added.

As far as he knows, according to Ramos, EO 226 is still in effect.

“Mayroon bang nakaalam [Does somebody know] that this has been rescinded? The Executive Order is still in effect,” he said.

Ramos added that the President could be charged for the Mamasapano incident once he steps down from office.

“This is the future that any President must be able to confront manfully and truthfully. This is part of the job. When you enter any electoral contest for the highest position in the land, you better expect that the highest kinds of alleged crimes will be [slapped] on you,” he said as he mentioned that he faced three Senate blue ribbon committee investigations after his term as President ended in 1998.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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