Aquino speech fails to satisfy militant solons
MILITANT lawmakers on Thursday criticized President Benigno Aquino III for constantly refusing to be held fully accountable for the Mamasapano debacle, with one legislator saying his latest speech was a “non-apology apology.”
In a statement, Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon scored Aquino for appealing to the public’s understanding instead of apologizing over the botched antiterror raid last January 25 that cost the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians.
Ridon said Aquino’s speech at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) graduation on Thursday was a classic “non-apology apology.”
“Sa bawat Pilipinong nabigo at nasaktan, buong pagkumababa ko pong hinihiling ang inyong pag-unawa (To every Filipino who was disappointed and hurt, I ask for your understanding, with all humility),” Aquino said at the commencement exercises at Camp General Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite two months after the botched Mamasapano operation.
“Note how the President didn’t even ask for the public’s forgiveness. He asked for understanding. Mr. President, the public understands – we the people understand that it is you at fault in this botched operation,” Ridon said.
In what is believed to be Aquino’s last speech on the Mamasapano debacle, Aquino appealed to the public’s understanding about the operation meant to take down Malaysian international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan” that went wrong as a result of lack of coordination with the military.
While he has taken responsibility for the tragic result of the operation, Aquino in the speech said he is also “human” and can get hurt in the face of criticisms.
The president has drawn flak for refusing to apologize and instead heaping the blame on the sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas for keeping to himself the progress of the operation and failing to coordinate early on with the military about the top secret raid. Napeñas has kept the operation secret supposedly to protect it from being compromised.
While Aquino did not directly name resigned police chief Alan Purisima, who was authorized by the President to oversee the operation despite his suspension for corruption charges, Aquino took a swipe at those who fed him wrong information saying that help was already underway at the height of the firefight in Mamasapano.
Purisima was said to have texted Aquino that the SAF commandos were backed with mechanized and artillery support even though at the time help was still on its way.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares scored Aquino for refusing to apologize in bypassing the police chain of command when he authorized Purisima.
The police Board of Inquiry report said Aquino bypassed the chain of command when he authorized Purisima on the operation while keeping in the dark Philippine National Police officer in charge Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
“The people are asking why did you allow Purisima to command the operations and bypass Roxas and Espina, and not whether you call the PNP line of authority a ‘chain of command.’ Even if he has the prerogative to assign functions to his subordinates, the main question is: does President Aquino have the prerogative to assign a sensitive operation to a suspended general? And why did he bypass Roxas and Espina?” Colmenares said.
He added that Malacañang should admit its accountability in the debacle for the public to know the truth.
“Even with President Aquino’s latest speech, I think that the majority of the Filipino people are still not satisfied with his answers and handling of the Mamasapano incident… The Mamasapano incident is not over and it will continue to fester as long as Malacanang refuses to admit the truth, and face the consequences for its acts,” Colmenares said. AC
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.