Ramos to Aquino: Do an Arroyo, say sorry
MANILA, Philippines–What’s so difficult about saying you’re sorry, former President Fidel Ramos asked on Wednesday.
In Ramos’ book, President Aquino can learn from his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the humility department.
Ramos, who just turned 87, said in a news conference Aquino should take responsibility for the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano on Jan. 25 and apologize.
“What’s so difficult about that? A previous President said ‘I am sorry,’ and so that removed a lot of pressure on that person although eventually other things came up to cause her temporary detention in a hospital for alleged crimes,” Ramos said, referring to Arroyo, now Pampanga representative, who is under hospital arrest on plunder charges.
Ramos said that Aquino could still redeem himself, pointing out, “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ humbly and sincerely would probably do 90 percent of the job.”
He explained that an apology from the President at this point would not work 100 percent because of the “hurt” that has gone deeper over the Mamasapano incident which started when Aquino failed to show up at Villamor Air Base on Jan. 29 to wait for the arrival of caskets bearing the slain commandos.
“The recalcitrance of Malacañang, I’m not talking only about the President but also his spokespersons and handlers, has led to this situation in the Philippines today. There is so much divisiveness now… I am sure the national interest does not include being divided among ourselves in this manner now. Matindi ito (This is serious),” Ramos said.
Malacañang said no apology from Aquino on the Mamasapano debacle was forthcoming.
“We had discussions with him (Tuesday), but none touching on the call for him to issue an apology over it,” said Abigail Valte, presidential deputy spokesperson. “None so far.”
Valte said that in his address to the nation Feb. 6, the President already had taken responsibility for the botched operation in Maguindanao province when he accepted the resignation of suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima.
The President is the Commander in Chief of the Philippine National Police, Ramos said, based on an executive order he himself signed as then Chief Executive in 1995 to clarify “dark areas” on the doctrine of chain of command pertaining to the police.
“The operative principle in governance, whether in a civil or informal government, the military, police and also the uniformed forces, the coast guard, militia and even private security agencies, there is a chain of command that operates under the principle of command responsibility,” he pointed out.
“We have been respecting the doctrine of command responsibility ever since we were established as a government,” he said, pointing out that government and police officials faced criminal prosecution for failure to take preventive or corrective action on the commission of a crime by a subordinate.
“In the case of the President, however, the matter can be imposed in a higher administrative punishment later on. But for a sitting President or incumbent, at that point in time, the only recourse is through impeachment,” Ramos said.
He emphasized that the President’s job was to take care of the national interest, the defense of the national territory’s sovereignty and integrity and maintaining a position of respect, dignity and even admiration among the family of nations.
He said that as President, he faced three Senate blue ribbon investigations on alleged corruption in the Centennial Expo in Clark, the funding for the rehabilitation of Smokey Mountain and the purchase and sale of the country’s power plants. He was cleared of any irregularities in the deals.
“This is the future every President must confront manfully and truthfully. This is part of the job when you enter into the electoral contest for the highest position of the land. You better expect that the highest kinds of alleged crimes will be hit on you. That’s the way it goes in this democracy of ours,” he said.–With a report from Nikko Dizon
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