The Brewing Storm

by Benjie Oliveros

What happened on February 6, 2015 was unprecedented. This is the first time that a president has made a nationwide address on the same issue twice. (Without saying anything substantial – but that is another matter). This shows that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is still reeling from the aftershock of the Mamasapano fiasco that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) personnel, 16 fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and two civilians. (Which he exacerbated by preferring to attend the inauguration of a Mitsubishi plant rather than attending the arrival honors for the fallen SAF men.)

However, in both addresses, what President Aquino tried to do was to evade accountability and absolve himself and his friend former Philippine National Police Director Alan Purisima from any blame for the fatal fiasco. In both addresses, he laid the blame on SAF commander Getulio Napeñas: in his first address for purportedly failing to follow his instructions to “coordinate” with the Army, and during his second address, for allegedly not adjusting or aborting the mission based on changes in the situation.

In both addresses, Aquino never admitted to giving the go signal for such a sensitive, critical operation. So either he is lying about it or he did not do his job as president and commander-in-chief of the country’s state security forces. Aquino also did not come clean about Purisima’s role in the operations, acknowledging only the fact that the latter was involved in the planning, even if testimonies pointed to Purisima as the one in charge of the actual combat operations. President Aquino is likewise silent about the role of the US in an operation that is more to its interest than the Philippines.

After the expose’ on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that tainted President Aquino’s projected image as anti-corruption crusader – which he also exacerbated by defending the DAP to the extent of challenging the Supreme Court in a nationwide address – this Mamasapano fiasco is the second issue that has rocked his administration. The difference is that he did not exhibit the same arrogance as he did before and this time, he felt the need to do two nationwide addresses on the same issue.

Why? Because the crisis the Aquino administration is in now is worse since this is the second big strike. Also, the brewing unrest that the Mamasapano fiasco created does not involve only the people – which he obviously does not take seriously because he arrogantly believes that he is still popular – but also the police forces.

President Aquino, no matter how many times he says that the Filipino people are his bosses – relies on the support of two groups: the US, and the state security forces i.e. the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

He was able to curry the favor of the US with the Mamasapano operations against suspected Jemaah Islamiya leader Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan. But the same operations shook the support that he has from the PNP. Now the foundation of his administration is being shaken by the unrest among the people and the police forces. And when the time comes that his administration is plunged into a deep political crisis and becomes a political liability for the US, the latter would just pressure him to “cut clean.”

This is the reason why he has been frantically trying to stave off the political crisis he is currently in. This is the reason why he felt the need to do a second address.

Did the second nationwide address help his cause? If the reactions to his nationwide address, with hashtag #NANA, is an indication, then it appears to have fed the storm even more because of his blatant attempt to hide the truth and evade accountability. (bulatlat.com)

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