The Rule of Law and the IIRC Report: Aquino and de Lima do a Pontius Pilate
The jury is back on the IIRC Report – and finds the penalties wanting. The international community finds “RP punishment over hostage fiasco hard to accept”. And the Philippine spin machine is on hyperdrive as it defends its uber incompetent response to the botched hijacking. What else is new in a society where principles are waylaid under a bus every day?
Philippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday defended his decision to spare from harsh punishment the officials involved in a bus hijacking fiasco in August that left eight tourists from Hong Kong dead.
Aquino said he was merely following the law, and brushed aside accusations he favoured close friends when he called for only minor charges against police and government officials for mishandling the hostage crisis.
“We vowed justice for all. We have a process. We are following the law. The bottom line is, just because one sector wants charges filed, it does not mean charges will be filed,” he told reporters.
Suddenly, Aquino doesn’t sound any different from his predecessor – mouthing a reference to the “rule of law” – which frankly, doesn’t mean much in the Philippines. “Rule of law” didn’t mean much in Arroyo’s administration – it still doesn’t mean anything under the Aquino administration.
Maria Ressa knows too well what Filipinos deal with everyday – and what they have to deal with for the next six years. In her Wall Street Journal article :Noynoy flunks his first test”, Maria said: “For many Filipinos, this bungling is wearingly familiar. The country has a famously weak system of law and order which often sees criminals go unpunished. Mr. Aquino ran for office promising to clean up this culture of corruption. That’s why the hostage crisis was so disturbing: It was a disastrous example of incompetence, political factionalism and lack of national leadership. *** The president’s indecisiveness has already indirectly led to one tragedy. The coming weeks will show whether he can learn from his mistakes, or whether the Philippines is in for another Aquino presidency that has good intentions but bungled outcomes. ”
Miss Ressa, let me spare you the trouble – ” the Philippines is in for another Aquino presidency that has good intentions but bungled outcomes” – we said it before the elections, and our story is not about to change. Certainly, we wish the narrative were different – but there doesn’t seem to to be any indication that this train wreck of an Aquino administration is about to slow down churning out gaffes from the boo-boo factory.
“Rule of Law” in the Philippines is one big joke. You go to jail based on “ratings”. Popularity trumps justice. Making a mockery out of justice also makes one popular. Remember how then Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos punished former coup plotters with push-ups under the Cory Aquino presidency? Well, like mother, like son – the absolution of the responsible parties is the “rule of law” in the Philippines. Just look at the Ampatuan cases and the Hacienda Luisita cases. And the hoi polloi are just as clueless, heck, had Aquino lost, Joseph Estrada, a convicted felon was next in line for the Philippine presidency. Quite a pathetic state of affairs – expect nothing less from the Philippines and the Filipino.
The IIRC Report is a white-wash, plain and simple – let’s not kid ourselves. It is a whitewash because it absolves the man who was supposed to be on top of the entire thing – the “top cop”, to quote Philstar’s Marichu Villanueva
As Commander-in-chief, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (P-Noy ) decided last week to take over control of the Philippine National Police (PNP). This was in the aftermath of the botched police rescue operations at the Quirino Grandstand bus hostage-taking on Aug. 23.
The natural consequence of this presidential decision should have resulted to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jessie Robredo losing control and supervision of the PNP. But it ain’t so.
Had this incident not happened, the public would not have known that P-Noy had actually castrated earlier the DILG Secretary. It turned out P-Noy appointed Rico E. Puno (not related to former DILG Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno). Rico is P-Noy’s former Senate aide and shooting buddy. P-Noy has named him as DILG Undersecretary to specifically take charge of issues related to the PNP.
This fact only came to light when Robredo subsequently explained why he had not taken a direct hand to resolve the hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand. Robredo came into the picture late in the night after the bloody end of the hostage drama.
This was obviously why P-Noy ignored the flaks that Robredo received on this incident after he even designated him as co-chair of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima in the five-man incident investigation and review committee (IIRC). P-Noy created this probe panel to look into what went wrong in the handling of the hostage-taking crisis. P-Noy only knows too well that Robredo is not the official he put in charge of the PNP in the first place.
All the while, it was Puno who had been acting as overseer of the hostage crisis, a fact he confirmed before the IIRC. He told the IIRC he was at the Manila Police Department in UN Avenue, Manila monitoring from far out there the hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.
Puno admitted before the IIRC he is not someone qualified nor had any experience in police operations to handle hostage-taking crisis. P-Noy believed everything that Puno advised him during the Aug. 23 hostage crisis. Puno, on the other hand, believed everything that the police and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim told him about the hostage situation.
Mister Aquino it’s not about “just because one sector wants charges filed, it does not mean charges will be filed,” – it’s about assigning responsibility and holding parties accountable to the full extent of the law. What the IIRC recommendations showed is how useless Philippine laws can be, how useless our legislators are, and how useless Philippine voters are.
Moving forward the report does not address the issue about the President’s removal of the DOJ Secretary Robredo’s oversight on the PNP. Robredo’s experience as an LGU executive could have come in handy compared to Puno’s incompetence. Clearly, the buck stops with Aquino. Was Mister Aquino remiss in his duties and in violation of RA 6975 when he removed the DOJ Secretary’s oversight over the PNP? If yes, should he be held culpable? How? 8)
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What steps have been taken after the fiasco? Is the PNP still under Puno ? 8)
Daang matuwid my ass.
De Lima is just being loyal to her boss – the President. Though, her loyalty is misplaced, her loyalty to the President ends where her responsibility to the Republic begins. But then, what can we expect – a Philippine republic – now, that’s a nice idea.
That Maria Ressa, despite being in a seemingly plum role of senior vice president of News and Current Affairs and managing director of ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) – gave it up speaks volumes. Her reaction is a welcome addition to the ocean of disgust against the culture of mediocrity and impunity that pervades the rotten fibers of Philippine society. Welcome to the club.