THIS administration – with its three communications offices! – has always been able to spin and distract from issues of the day.
Sometimes they spin by falling silent, and the next thing we know a distraction has been put in place, and the issue’s forgotten. Most of the time, they dismiss social media noise to be merely coming from a minority – these are the instances when Spokesperson Sonny Coloma invokes the Palace’s “social media team” and their assessment of social media “noise.”
Many other times, it is what the President himself says with all the energy and conviction he can muster that they presume – they imagine – will make critics stand down and fall silent. Because the President has spoken.
Too often they have dismissed critics to be unthinking negative Pinoys and Pinays who refuse to get on the matuwid na daan because they have their own political agendas. For sure that might be true of some critics; but it is not true of everyone.
Too, there is this: members of the yellow army, the supporters of the President, no matter how badly he does his job, no matter his mistakes, are just as questionable, yes? They are just like every other critic who has a political agenda or ten, bound as they are to this government.
They make a huge deal out of this President’s honesty. They talk about him as incorruptible. They say the President is just human, but at least he does not steal from the nation’s coffers. And look! He has the trust of nation! Those surveys cannot lie.
But now that the President’s trust survey numbers have taken a historic dip, now that the President has been revealed to lack compassion and kindness, now that it has been revealed that his tendency in a time of crisis is to zero in on self, the Palace’s spin committee must know that his “honesty” isn’t everything. Neither is his vaunted “incorruptibility.”
In the case of the Mamasapano Tragedy, we have heard the President spinning things consistently to pin the blame on ex-SAF Chief Napeñas. We have listened to him, time and again, saying that while as father of the nation he had lost 44 of his SAF children, he is not at fault. Because he’s been had, he said. Binola ako ni Napeñas.
He has consistently kept from pinning any blame on ex-PNP Chief Purisima, a man who he says has been by his side since his years as Presidential son.
Yet the President was speaking to Purisima and not Napeñas with regards the Mamasapano operation. Purisima was the middle man, the one who was deemed “expert” with regards the capture of these international terrorists. Purisima, for reasons that have yet to be made public, was the one that was trusted by this President with regards this operation, never mind that he was serving his suspension.
And no, it can’t just be because Purisima knew of this operation from the get-go.
Because that could be true, and it still would not explain why the President decided to keep OIC PNP Chief Espina, Interior Secretary Roxas, and Defense Secretary Gazmin out of the loop. And this is really what the President has yet to talk about: why he did not think there was anything wrong with only talking to a suspended police official and the SAF Chief, bypassing his own Cabinet secretaries.
These are men he should be able to trust with any top secret operation, if not men he should be able to trust with his life. Yes, including them and the OIC PNP Chief Espina would mean a larger group of people knowing about this operation – including the Armed Forces – but for sure under the President’s orders it could still be kept secret, and leaks could be avoided.
That is, of course, presuming that this was the reason for keeping Cabinet secretaries, the Armed Forces chief and the OIC PNP chief, in the dark about this operation. Because there is radio silence as far as this is concerned, and the President has been one to spin it and focus only on blaming ex-SAF Chief Napeñas.
And in the case of Mamasapano, and the massacre of 44 SAF soldiers, plus the death of civilians, this silence puts a dent on whatever “honesty” and “incorruptibility” he – and his yellow army – might take pride in.
The Palace spokespersons are one to spin it now, what with the Board of Inquiry and Senate Reports on the Mamasapano Tragedy being made public, and with the Presidential trust survey numbers taking such a dip.
Because while they might be able to dismiss the calls for the President’s resignation, if not threaten those who they say are “going too far,” there is no ignoring survey results (which they’ve always fallen back on), and two reports one after the other. It must have been surprising to find that the Senate report would not be so kind, and that Senator Grace Poe would clearly state that “ultimate responsibility” lies with the President.
It was surprising because we know how this President has always held the majority in the Senate by the neck; we know of how Poe is such an ally of the President.
The compromise might be this: Senator Poe leaves it up to Congress to make the President pay for this tragedy, via impeachment proceedings she says. But we know that the President holds Congress by the neck, yes? One just needs to listen to Speaker of the House Sonny Belmonte to know that the President’s got his allies in place.
Congress is the President’s last security blanket. Let’s see how long he can hold on to it.