• Has Aquino’s survival crisis risen to a new level?

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    The cataclysmic collapse of his credibility and trust ratings has sent President B. S. Aquino 3rd spinning in the wind, as it were. According to reports, 79 percent of those polled found his explanation about the Mamasapano, Maguindanao massacre “not enough,” only 10 percent believed it, and his trust rating has fallen to a net 14 percent. Bad as these numbers are, the real statistics could be far worse, given the pressure on even the most honest pollsters to fudge their findings.

    Aquino’s inspired reaction was to approve the release of “the transcript of his text messages” with the then-suspended(now resigned) Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima when the House of Representatives resumes its own inquiry into the massacre of 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos on a mission to “neutralize” three international terrorists being harbored by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

    At the same time, contrary to the finding of the PNP Board of Inquiry and the subsequent statement of former President Fidel V. Ramos, that Aquino violated the PNP chain of command, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima continued to argue that a civilian organization like the PNP has “no chain of command” which he could have violated. More on this later.

    For now, we have to talk of what happened on Friday evening. Rumors flew thick and fast that Aquino had physically “collapsed” and injured his head after his last public appearance at the inauguration of the President Emilio Aguinaldo museum in Kawit, Cavite. The original source of the story was not known. There had been unconfirmed talk days before that he had suffered a nervous breakdown during the week of February 2 to 8, and that he continued to get medication for it. But on Friday reporters started calling Malacanang to inquire about his reported “collapse.” This prompted the Palace to issue a curt official denial. “No such thing,” the spokesman said, quoting the President.

    This was nothing trivial. The public needed (and needs) to be assured the President remained in good health, even if they want to get rid of him. And Malacanang failed to do so. They could have released a video showing Aquino having dinner with a female celebrity guest or having a grand time with his nephew Joshua at the play station at the time of the rumored collapse. But they did nothing of the sort. Thus despite the denial, the rumors persist.

    This takes us back to the time in the Marcos presidency when rumors first began to spread about the President’s health. I had left the Cabinet as information minister then, and had returned to journalism, and was the first and for sometime the only one to write about Marcos’ secret kidney transplant. This was elaborately denied by the Palace, using TV film footage and official photos to show the President actively performing his duties. But my medical sources stood by their story, and the rumors grew stronger and stronger as the President’s public appearances grew less and less and Cabinet members failed more and more to gain access to the President. The rest is history.

    This so impacted the nation that when Cory Aquino’s 48-member commission wrote the 1987 Constitution, they inserted two relevant provisions in anticipation of something similar happening in the future. Thus Article VII, Section 11 provides that “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.

    “Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President…”

    And Sec. 12, same Article provides that, “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health. The members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, shall not be denied access to the President during such illness.”

    Amid the sky-rending calls for Aquino’s resignation (“stepping down,” the National Transformation Council puts it,) following the Mamasapano massacre, and his prolonged unexplained disappearances from public view, particularly during emergencies and calamities, the Cabinet could invoke Sec. 11 to save Aquino from making the painful decision himself. But the Cabinet is known to be led by the sworn enemies of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, and they have been running the government for Aquino since 2010. They could be the ones pressuring Aquino to hold on, despite any inclination or temptation on his part to call it quits.

    As for Sec. 12, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang are all too docile to insist on their rights, if Aquino personally denies them access during a bout of physical or mental illness. The way Malacanang has responded to the Operation Exodus inquiries provides no indication that Aquino would be completely transparent with respect to any serious illness. Given all the lying and official cover-up we have seen in the various inquiries, we cannot expect that any official medical bulletin on Aquino’s state of health would be completely trustworthy.

    Mendacity is now the largest official industry because of the Mamasapano inquiries. To such unmitigated lying, Aquino and his officials have added an overload of fallacious reasoning and sophistry. From the PNP Board of Inquiry Report, and the Senate inquiry report, we heard that Aquino broke the PNP chain of command, and was ultimately accountable for the Operation Exodus fiasco. But from the BOI head Director Benjamin Magalong and Senate inquiry chair Grace Poe Llamanzares, we subsequently heard that Aquino committed no punishable crime. One statement cancels the other.

    Now comes our good friend the Justice secretary trying to split hair with FVR, former AFP Chief of Staff, former Secretary of Defense and former President, on the “chain of command” issue. Ramos reminds Aquino that in 1995 as president he issued Executive Order 226 which provides (in Section 1) that “any government official or supervisor or officer of the PNP or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for “neglect of duty” under the doctrine of “command responsibility” if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed or is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinate or by others within his area of responsibility and despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during or immediately after its commission.”

    Against this, De Lima insists that there is no PNP chain of command, since the PNP is a civilian organization and the rank of “commander-in-chief” applies only to the military. Aquino is the first and only President to see it this way. Every organization has a chain of command, whether written or unwritten, and the head does not have to wear the title of commander-in-chief. This is true of every household, as understood by every head or member of a normally functioning family.

    Perhaps out of deference to a successor-president, FVR has declined to define with complete accuracy Aquino’s real offense with respect to the chain of command issue. For the same reason, the various inquiries have failed to define the same offense correctly. I hope we can do it here simply and clearly.

    The PNP chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Interior and Local Government (Mar Roxas), to the PNP Director General (Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina) and to the component PNP units (Director Getulio Napenas, in the case of SAF). In a police operation directly authorized by the President, this is the chain that holds. The PNP Chief must answer directly to the DILG Secretary, who must answer directly to the President for the success of the project.

    In Exodus, Aquino took out Roxas and Espina from the chain, and replaced them with Purisima, who had already lost his legal standing in the PNP because of his suspension by the Ombudsman, and Napenas, who should have been reporting to and taking orders from Espina, but whom Aquino had illegally but effectively put under Purisima. By removing Roxas and Espina from the chain, and replacing them with an illegal personality (Purisima), Aquino effectively created a new chain of command with only two legal members, himself as the commander, and Napenas as the commanded. This was probably the only police operation in our history where the President was in direct command and control of the operating units, without any intermediaries or alter egos in-between.

    Now, Aquino has agreed that “the transcripts of his text messages” with Purisima be read by the House when it resumes its probe. Assuming these messages are authentic rather than fabricated, (for they can easily be fabricated), how could they help prove his innocence or good faith? The first thing they could prove is that he had inserted an illegal personality into a delicate anti-terrorism operation after cutting out the rightful officials with specific legal rights and duties to be involved in it. And also, that he had converted an otherwise legitimate police operation into a personal adventure, where he did nothing according to the book because he believed it was his prerogative to do anything he wanted to do.

    Aquino has put all the blame on Napenas for allegedly failing to coordinate with the Armed Forces Chief of Staff on the fine details of the operation. Can you in your right sense put any value to that statement? Had Aquino previously informed Gen. Catapang on the operation, and had he not cut out Espina from it, Espina could have coordinated with Catapang, and Napenas with his military counterparts on the ground. But to expect the PNP ground commander to coordinate with the AFP chief of staff, without the latter having been previously briefed by his Commander-in-Chief, is absurdity of the highest order.

    Yet upon this ground Aquino hopes to send Napenas to the scaffold while he is crowned for his innocence. The real culprit here is Aquino’s unadulterated amateurism. He never understood the chain in command issue because he has never understood the presidency. Yet this abysmal ignorance does not constitute treason. What constitutes treason is the one act, about which nobody has dared to ask in any of the inquiries, and which I hope the members of the House will have the courage to ask when their inquiry reconvenes.

    Why did Aquino order the reinforcement to the 55th SAF Company to stand down? How many of the fallen 44 SAF commandos would have survived, if Aquino had not given the stand-down order? And what is the usual penalty for a commander who issues such an order to the death and destruction of all his troops in an armed encounter?

    The act of stepping down, which is what the National Transformation Council and everyone else are calling for, is too small a price to pay for such ignominious crime.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    18 Comments

    1. Juan Mabayan on

      If you read the BBLcarefully, you will be convinced that Ferrer, Deles, Leonen and PNoy are traitors who want to dismember the Philippines. The BBL will not lead to peace but to a greater war.
      Please read this article that shows why the BBL should be rejected:
      ARE THE FILIPINOS BEING SOLD TO MALAYSIA AND MILF?

      All I can say is that it is an act tantamount to secession.

      – The law categorically describes all inhabitants within the BBL controlled land as Bangsamoro. Not Filipino. Bangsamoro. The law also categorically depicts the Bangsamoro Political Entity as a nation-state, with the eminent right to “self-determination”, or the power to determine whether they want to remain part of the republic or not. (Art. 2 section 1 of the BBL Draft) (BBL preamble)

      – The law requires the republic to guarantee the inclusion of one Bangsamoro representative in each of the critical agencies of the government. While representation is indeed something I will root for, the ability of the Bangsamoro state to undermine the power of the government to determine via qualification the right people for the right agency and bypass that by a mere appointment to represent the Bangsamoro state is highly self-motivated.

      – Contrary to what the government peace panel has been saying, the BBL establishes the core component of a state based government, asceding only coordinating powers to the Republic. Sections 3 and 4 of Article V of the BBL delineates the powers of the Central Government (which in their term is the Republic of the Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Government. What is scary is that majority of the provisions in these sections arbitrarily surrenders control of banking, finance, land registration, police powers, and other powers reserved usually to the state (the republic of the philippines) to the Bangsamoro government. In effect, they have fully functioning mini-nation ready for secession.

      – The Bangsamoro Government gets the power to dissolve and create local government units under Article V section 4 of the BBL. Under item 57 of the said section, the Bangsamoro Parliament can abolish, create, merge, or alter bounderies of the local units under their control. Now this is reserved usually to the Congress of the republic, therefore the BBL parliament has quasi-legislative powers that are almost equivalent to Congress.

      – Article VI section 4 requires the Republic to refer to the Intergovernmental Relations Body to intervene when agencies under the republic have issues with corresponding Bangsamoro agency, or if there are differences between policy among Republic and the Bangsamoro State. This emphasizes that while (for the meantime) the Bangsamoro state is part of the country, the Republic could not act to secure national issues involving the Bangsamoro State without adjudiction of the IRB. Hence, the departments and agencies of the republic have virtually no power in BBL controlled lands. It is also questionable why it would take only the intervention of the republic, and only if acknowledged by the chief minister of the Bangsamoro State, can these agencies exercise their roles on Bangsamoro state.

      – Article VII describes the creation of the Bangsamoro Government, with full legislative and executive powers. Section 2 allows the legislative arm to enact LAWS, not ordinances, LAWS to govern the state. Section 3 establishes the powers of the cabinet within the Bangsamoro, and though there is no direct guideline as to the identity of each ministerial position in this cabinet, I would assume that this will mimic a fully functioning cabinet based on the structure of the republic therefore they will have their own minister for defense, justice, public works, local government and interior, etc.

      – Contrary to what the government peace panel is saying, none of the agencies under the Bangsamoro Government are under the Republic. The operative word used in all associations between the Bangsamoro agencies and the agencies under the republic is “in cooperation with” and not “under the”. Hence, each Bangsamoro agency can (and most probably will) determine department policy of existing government agencies as “non-conforming under the Basic Law” and not follow such order. Imagine the chief of the PNP giving a shoot-to-kill order vs a notorious terrorist hiding in Bangsamoro controlled lands, only to have that order deemed as inappropriate by the Bangsamoro Minister of Interior.

      – Article X establishes the Bangsamoro Shari’ ah courts, whose basis for dispensing justice is based on the Shari’ ah law. The wording in this article relates to the jurisdiction of the Shari’ah courts over the entire Bangsamoro state, without any reference to the Justice system of the republic. Simply put, any decision made by the Shari’ah High Court is final and executory without any deference to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. If you get sentenced there, you cannot appeal to the SC. Another item mentioned in this article is the mandatory place of at least one SC justice, and a number of Court of Appeals justices as coming from the Bangsamoro state. It obviously cuts the presidential priviledge of appointment and undermines the power of the Commision on Appointments.

      – Article XI does emphasize that the Bangsamoro Police Force is under the PNP. However, the Chief minister of the Bangsamoro has, categorically,complete control over the assignment, deployment, and operational and disciplinary control over it. So if you have any qualms over a police officer over there, don’t try and run to Camp Crame for resolution. They practically have no power to sanction police under the Bangsamoro.

      – The Bangsamoro has the power to legislate and impose taxes and fees within the Bangsamoro controlled lands, a right that is organically reserved to the republic. Enough said. Article XII sections 6 to 14 of the BBL.

      – Contrary to what the government peace panel is saying, the Bangsamoro Government has complete fiscal autonomy. Pending the creation of its own internal revenue bureau, the BIR will collect taxes in behalf of the Bangsamoro remitting 75% of the collections directly to the Bangsamoro coffers. The remaining 25% is for the republic, however the Bangsamoro is to retain the amount for 10 years. Congress has no control over the fiscal management of these funds, only those that have been appropriated through the National Budget. In short, while the national government is obligated to provide funding to projects within the Bangsamoro state, the BG is not required to remit any of the government shares in income within their areas for the next 10 years! And to top that, the Bangsamoro retains the right to extend that period beyond 10 years!

      In the 18 articles within the BBL I saw no mention of the word Filipino, the Philippines, nor any reference to the Republic. The entire text consolidates power in the south as if they are separate from the country. I could not, with clear conscience, say that this is a peace treaty, but rather an invitation to secession.

      http://www.manilalivewire.com/2015/03/up-law-expert-the-lies-of-the-bangsamoro-basic-law/

    2. Sir, will you please elaborate more re: When it was found out that former President Marcos was seriously ill with kidney failure how come then Vice-President Arturo M. Tolentino , also author of ITLOS was not installed , as successor of the Presidency based on Article VII, sect 11, and 12 you mentioned ? Instead Cory Aquino out of know where, became the President, and Edsa I was not even represented by majority but only 1% of the Philippine population ?????

    3. Vicente Penetrante on

      BS Aquino 3rd showed his head, not his baldness but only “short” hair, to say there are no wounds of his falling down.
      If there are any regrets on Op Exodus, it is that he must now part with his best friend, Purisima.

    4. Amnata Pundit on

      I would rather take my chances with this moron than accept another unknown entity being peddled by these prelates through the NTC. Remember that these constipated clerics also endorsed Cory, GMA and this moron too. How anyone can continue trusting their judgement is beyond me. The longer this fellow stays there, the more certain the entire yellow house built by the oligarchs and their foreign sponsors will fall. Besides, watching the yellows agonize before their fall is much more entertaining than any telenovela the networks can come up with. Its God who is already at work here, lets leave Him alone to finish His job.

    5. … then take out the chain from the “chain of command” phrase and wring it around mamasapanoT’s neck!!!

    6. Rogelio Feir on

      Napansin ko , bakit ang mga Aquino parang hinahabol ng o nangguna sa katraidoran.

    7. Aquino killed the SAF 44. He is the one ultimately responsible for their death. By refusing to send reinforcement, he effectively gave his terrorist MILF-BIFF friends a free hand to massacre the commandos.

      The grieving families of the Fallen 44, along with the nation, are demanding justice.Everbody knows what needs to be done.

    8. Aquino dug himself a hole big enough to fit and bury his political career along with Roxas and Purisima’s future aspirations. His trouble is he does not know how to get out of it. He wont ever get out of it, he is so arrogant he continues to push for the passage of BBL in congress. He is just slapping his countrymen and adding insult to injury with every speech he makes in public. He’s gaot this halo and sungay at the same time but he does not know how to use it. He’s also got a heart because he is human but it is not in the right place. Forget his mind…it is lost and it is misleading him.Maybe listen to a heart.It could be his own or someone who is still grounded and in touch of reality.Maybe just maybe he will get out of his trouble.

    9. Sec.de Lima at the INtegrated Bar of the Philippines convention at Cebu City had the gall to tell the lawyers present that there is no chain of command at the PNP. The President only has Executive Control over the PNP. Is it not when you have control, you have the power to command your subordinates? At the DOJ, is there a “chain of command” from the Secretary to the Undersecretaries to those below them? When you do not have a chain of command, you create chaos in an organization.

    10. If Aquino steps down from office, that is not justice for his acts that got 44 policemen killed. The would be the same non-justice as if the killers were expelled from the MILF. That kind of justice does not fit the crime and is in-fact not justice.

    11. Wake up Madam Department of Justice. Either you are a fool or fanatical twisted mind to save your President. In any organization just like in the Department of Justice, accountability is going up while responsibility is going down. You are responsible to your Divisions and your Divisions are accountable to you whether they succeed or fail in their tasks. You are accountable to your President. This is the essence of chain of command or whatever you call it in civilian parlance. The hierarchical arrangement of any organization is chain of command or maybe you call it chain of authority. Hindi mo pwedeng itsapuwera ang mga taong nasa hagdanan ng kautusan maliban lang kung wala kang tiwala sa mga taong katulad ni Sec Roxas at Dir Espina.

    12. Ang dapat hanapin nila ay Kung bakit nag stay down ang pnp saf..kaya galit Kay abno ang saf troopers ay alam nila ni si abnoy ang nag utos to stay down..kaya tigilan na ni trillanes ang panini ra sa pnp saf…wala ka naman ginagawa sa senador eh, Gaya ng mag rebel ka Laban jay gma.. Kung Hindi pomorma at humawak ng baril.. Kaya ng tutudasin ka ng saf commandos natakot at sumuko na..

    13. Dennis Labay on

      The penalty for treason is death. And he should have been given that penalty a couple of months ago. This crime was also committed by the first Benigno Aquino but death came to him before he was judged. This was also the crime the second Benigno Aquino was being tried before he was allowed to go to the U.S.

    14. It would not be fair to the fallen 44 if he only steps down. He needs to serve time. I don’t care whether he does that in an isolated room, ironically vacated by Arroyo, or in a mental institution.

      • imanuel san miguel on

        i was out of the loop for a while, helen. i was intrigued by your comment … “ironically vacated by arroyo,…” is gma now under house arrest?