Plotting Aquino’s endgame

32

First of two parts

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Many quarters now demand President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s resignation over the January 25 massacre of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Aquino should step down, they argue, for the country’s good and for public accountability.

There is another reason for resignation, which may matter more for Aquino and those who care for him: things will get even worse, and he may just break down.

His current plan is to pin the blame on relieved PNP-SAF Commander Getulio Napeñas and ride out the public outrage with a massive media campaign, like past crises. In his Friday speech the Chief Executive maintained that he and his friend, resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima, along with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), bore no responsibility for Mamasapano.

Instead, Aquino blamed Napeñas: “How and why did it happen that there was no coordination? Why did the mission continue, when it had deviated so far from the original plan, and our troops were already in grave danger?”

In his own media remarks, Purisima denied Napeñas’s day-old disclosure that he ordered the SAF head to inform PNP Officer-in-Charge Deputy DG Leonardo Espina only after troops had gone in.

Who will we believe?
Now who will the people, independent media, and 150,000 police believe?

The President who has yet to say what he did in Zamboanga after the SAF mission took a turn for the worse — that uncouth host who untruthfully told Pope Francis on national TV that his brother Filipino bishops kept silent about issues in the past administration?

The ex-PNP DG who provided intelligence for the operation, but allegedly did not care to give early advice to the interior, police and military heads — the same chief who said his sprawling Nueva Ecija house cost less than his Prado SUV before discount?

Or the SAF commander who, in fact, got the top mission target, but lost 44 men due to absent military support — a veteran officer retiring soon who throughout his many postings here and abroad, made sure to strictly obey and properly advice superiors?

If the PNP — the largest armed organization in the country — believes Napeñas and concludes that Aquino is skirting responsibility for the death of 44 of its best men, there could be more than just gripes and rage, but action or even, God forbid, violence.

Will there be People Power?
Already, there are street marches, head shaving, and mass leave plans by police. Will the animosity end if the Board of Inquiry, despite what PNP colleagues know and feel, parrots Aquino’s line and pins the blame on Napeñas and no other?

Or will a whitewash lead thousands of restive law enforcers to join anti-Aquino protests in another People Power uprising? In the two EDSA revolts, the uniformed services were not aggrieved, yet they backed regime change. Now, troopers are hurting.

Notably, four ingredients in the fall of Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada are in place: public unrest against corruption and misgovernance, Church despondency over the administration, a legitimate successor, and now, restive security forces.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has its own unhappy massacre still awaiting justice: the 2011 killing of 19 Army Scout Rangers in Al-Barka, Basilan, for which only military officers were punished, not the MILF base commander who led that attack and another in 2007 in which 14 Marines were killed, including 10 beheaded.

As for the Catholic Church, prelates in the National Transformation Council calling for Aquino’s resignation include the most influential and outspoken archbishops in the regions around Metro Manila: Oscar Cruz of Dagupan in Central Luzon and Ramon Arguelles of Lipa in Southern Luzon.

Cruz disclosed last week that a coalition of influential figures would lead a People Power movement against Aquino. They include Christian and Muslim leaders, incumbent congressmen, retired and active military officers, former government officials, socio-civic stalwarts, legal luminaries, and top educators.

As protests escalate, some Aquino camp insiders would very likely jump ship, ready to share and expose embarrassing or damning information about administration shenanigans. And as in the Estrada and Arroyo governments, Cabinet members could exit and call on the President to quit.

If protests and exposes fail to bring him down, it could well bring on something far worse for both him and the nation. Among 150,000 PNP and 125,000 AFP personnel, it is not impossible or inconceivable that a handful of police, soldiers or both could, heaven forbid, resort to violence.

Can Aquino cope?
Adding to Aquino’s woes are at least three more security challenges. First, the threat of bombings in retaliation for the SAF’s killing of Malaysian bomb terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Commander Marwan. His Filipino counterpart, Abdul Bassit Usman of the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), escaped, and there are dozens of terrorists trained by the pair.

The MILF may resume fighting if the Bangsamoro law and agreement get delayed, watered down or shelved. Last week 400 families reportedly fled their homes in North Cotabato due to MILF and BIFF troop movements. If the Commander-in-Chief looks shaky, rebels of every stripe will just stage attacks to enhance their battlefield positions.

Then there’s the biggest security challenge this year. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November, preceeded by APEC ministerial and lower-level meetings through the year, will demand even far more extensive and complex security planning and operations than the papal visit, coordinated with 20 foreign governments, plus the crush of international media and business packing the meetings.

Can Aquino cope with all that? Or will he freeze up and tune out, as he has done in crisis after crisis, from Luneta in 2010 to Mamasapano last month?

(On Thursday the second and last part will discuss how Aquino can exit, and the nation move on.)

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32 Comments

  1. Ang makabagong barometro ngayon para makuha ang pulso ng mulat nang mamamayan, social media. Dahil rin sa social media, wala nang bisa ang pangguguyong “ang kasinungalingan kapag paulit-ulit inuulit-ulit nagiging katotohanan.” Mabilis na kasing nabubuking o naba-validate ang mga black propaganda na tulad ng artikulong ito ni Saludo na dating tagasaludo ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Mabilis na ring nahuhubaran ng maskara ang mga BUWITRE sa lipunan. Mulat na ang sambayanang Pilipino, tumigil na kayo. Pulsuhan ninyo ang makabagong Plaza Miranda at kung di pa manhid ang inyong pakiramdam, ngayon pa lamang alam na dapat ninyong LALANGAWIN ang inyong EDSAHAN na namang 2.22.15.

  2. Come 2016, whether Aquino gets thrown out or not, he should be tried for TREASON. Ferrer, Deles, the peace panel, Purisima and all the other elements of ths BBL and the Mamasapano incident should also be tried for treason.

    Throw them all to jail, these sellouts and the traitors. Throw away the keys to their cells, and leave them to die.

  3. Like one of the earlier responders said “Let’s see all you commenters who ask the President to resign go to Luneta at the appointed hour of your “very influential ” bishops of Dagupan and Lipa. You’ll all be the laughing stock of the whole country with Saludo included. I doubt if you can gather a handful of followers who will be serious in this movement. This people are just plain sick in the mind.

  4. Ruel de Castro on

    All these brave commenters, I so encourage you to go to EDSA. Go for a revoltuion as this writer, Mr Saludo, suggests

    I assure you that the outcome will be laughable. Simply, it will not gain support. EDSA succeeded because of the working class, the armed forces and the Church

    The Church has already spoken and called for sobreity.

    In the armed forces forum, questions as to why the Senate and some media is rousing dissent is already arising. It’s becoming so obvious that Malacanan’s political opponents are behind this campaign

    The working class is not as stupid as these plotters presume

  5. To your question, it will happen again as log as an idiotic, incompetent and stupid plunderer of PP160 Billion still resides in Malacañang. Hence, we should all start to shame the guy by refraining from the use of the word “president” before his name simyon. When the whole nation refers to the guy as plain simyon, he know that it is already the end of the line and he will just go back to the caves of Hacienda Luisita from shame and embarassment until another SAF team goes there to serve him a warrant. At that time, there will be no sacada to engage the SAF team in a firefight.

  6. After 2 days of senate hearing we could already see the outcome will be Napenas will take all the blame with Purisima will get slap in the wrist and this how far it go. The public sentiment will slowly die down and the 44 fallen SAF members will soon be forgotten. Isa lang ang dahilan tayong mga pinoy ay mga tanga at duwag.

  7. I would say Benigno should step down, and the current VP takes over for the reminder of the term. It is anathema to many people, but it is still the only legal, fastest, bloodless way out of the problem. I do not want Benigno for even one more day in Malacanang. Out with him. Between him and Binay, I would go for Binay. Why? Because he knows we will be watching very closely, every move he makes which will spell sure disaster for him come 2016, even with the slightest wrong move. And in 2016, we put in the most deserving, competent and honest individual in the lot, without the help of hocus-pcos. Those damned machines should be certified clean and free from hocus-pcos, prior to use, or else, burn them all and we go back to the old slow but reliable way. And that lousy BBL, scrap it. Go back to the negotiating table to negotiate peace, without the Malaysians providing their input and influence, and only when the MILF can prove themselves worthy of trust. And only under one law for the entire country, not a “special” one that violates the provisions of the constitution. And just so it is clear, stepping down does not mean he can escape prosecution. No sir. The fallen dead, relatives and friends and the people should get their justice that they may rest in peace and not died in vain.

    • mikhail hieronymus on

      I could not have stated it any better. The only peaceful way is for Pnoy to resign and Binay to take over. Binay may not be the best person, but it is the only legal way. Come election time, people will replace Binay anyway. Power to the people!!!!!

  8. I would say Benigno should step down, and the current VP takes over for the reminder of the term. It is anathema to many people, but it is still the only legal, fastest, bloodless way out of the problem. I do not want Benigno for even one more day in Malacanang. Out with him. Between him and Binay, I would go for Binay. Why? Because he knows we will be watching very closely, every move he makes which will spell sure disaster for him come 2016, even with the slightest wrong move. And in 2016, we put in the most deserving, competent and honest individual in the lot, without the help of hocus-pcos. Those damned machines should be certified clean and free from hocus-pcos, prior to use, or else, burn them all and we go back to the old slow but reliable way. And that lousy BBL, scrap it. Go back to the negotiating table to negotiate peace, without the Malaysians providing their input and influence, and only when the MILF can prove themselves worthy of trust. And only under one law for the entire country, not a “special” one that violates the provisions of the constitution.

  9. This demented president will never
    resign because he is supported by
    corrupt congress, the LPs, yellow media and big businesses.

  10. I Do not want Aquino go unpunished just because we don’t want Binay to replace him. I don’t either…I do not want Aquino to get away with murder and destruction of institutions, laws and even the constitution. I wish we could jump into a transitional form of government where Binay, Drilon…and those down the line cannot take over. WE do not deserve them.

  11. vagoneto rieles on

    In various news reportage and in some opinion pieces, the words ‘massacre’, ‘slaughter’ and ‘misencounter’, (it’s not even a word), keep coming up. To some observers, however, the encounter
    initiated by ‘Oplan Exodus’ was a mission to infiltrate the MILF safe-house so as to arrest or capture or neutralize Marwan. It was a raid, pure and simple..and I can’t think of any applicable euphemism to mask it.
    In the ensuing shootout, casualties fell on both sides (as may be expected), with our side sustaining six times more than the other. The mission could have been better planned, better executed and better directed. It, evidently, was not..in all three phases..as evidenced by the lopsided body-count..even as Marwan was neutralized.
    To our minds, the inquiry now being conducted, should quietly dwell on the ‘How’ question. The ‘Who’ and the ‘Why’ aspects, while important and relevant to the process, are only tangential to the actual conduct of the operations. Let’s deal with how future such missions might be better conducted.

  12. If I do not know who exactly is going to take over and what exactly is he going to do once he is comfortably ensconced in the Palace, then I would rather stick with the Chief Retardate because he is already a known quantity and totally discredited with the people, as such his ability to do damage, though still substantial, will be nothing compared to a new but unknown quantity who will start with considerable goodwill (to fool the people again) that he can use, wittingly or not, to totally destroy this country, which is where we have been headed since the yellows took over in 1986. The yellows led by “God’s greatest gift to the Filipinos” named Cory Aquino gave us GMA, and we thought we had seen the worst that the yellows can give us, then they us this BS! So who are they going to give us next, the anti-Christ? Its not just this BS but the yellows that must go. The only way to do that short of letting the modern Jacobins chop off their heads is to dismantle the Smartmatic cheating machines of the Comelec because the yellows will never win an honest election and that is what they are really deathly afraid of! Those who want to change the president but give only lip service to honest elections are defenders of the yellow status quo, which means more looting of the pork barrel, more anti-people pro-rich economic policies, more of this mad rush to cede away Muslim Mindanao to these dreadful savages that will turn Mindanao into the Middle East of Asia. Give the government back to the people because THERE CAN BE NO REAL CHANGE AS LONG AS THE YELLOWS ARE IN POWER!

  13. A scenario, which is not improbable due to his known psychiatric history, like a breakdown on Aquino’s rational judgement should be addressed at this very critical time. We have been counting blunders upon blunders, indiscretions, faulty judgement calls, blatant disrespect to somebody in an important gathering, unprecedented arrogance, misplaced righteousness and more un presidential behavior shown in public. The citizens of a kingdom is as good as their king and if an unstable king continues to rule and receives homage from a docile citizenry, then we are fit to be called a kingdom of dumb subjects.

  14. Even if Napenas MAY NOT be telling the whole truth, the fact that he’s the “underdog,” opts me to be on his side. I hope the 150,000-strong national police force is on his side too.

  15. Guillermo Hernandez on

    Dear Mr. Actor,

    You are not a real person. You are a plant from Malacanang !
    Or worst, paid by Malacanang to say what you just said.

  16. If you cannot assume responsibility and be truthful . ,,,,, it shows in your upbringing,,,,, and you have no business being a leader ,,,, because you are not one..

  17. Let us try to create a scenario. The President
    has resigned. So what is next? Of course we will look for a replacement. The logical pick would be the Vice President. Let us remember that the current VP is facing some allegation charges on corruption and kickbacks. With this in mind will he be the right choice to replace the President. Or
    they will create a Convenor Group to be the
    likely successor to the Presidency.
    And because of these scenarios we still believe that it will be better for us to let
    the President finish the mandate given to him by the people when he was elected President.

  18. My wife and I are both in our 7th decade of our wonderful and fruitful life.We would like
    to extend our sincere condolence to the families, relatives and firends of the 44 SAF
    slain in the tragic Mamasapano incident.
    As a result the wives, relatives, friends including some bishops would want President
    Noynoy Aquino to resign.
    We believe that if we let him go instead of solving the problem it might even make it worse. That is why me and my wife would like
    to strongly suggest that we let the President finist his term which will end in May of 2016. Let him finish the mandate given him by the people when they elected him President.

    • yes he must step down hes a non performing president he lacks imagine 9 yesrs of tongress and 3 yrs of senatong wala man lang ginwa ano baya nngayon 19 scout ranger 14 marines and 10 marines beheaded and now saf 44 pero observe him nakatawa pa parang wala lang sa kanya ay naku

  19. Hi! I love reading your column. You might like to read Luigi Pirandello’s short story The War. I know that you will appreciate its tragic theme what war means to the young men who are willing to die and to their parents who live after their son’s death!

  20. To those who say let him finish his term, i say no. You don’t allow a criminal to evade the law when a crime has been commited. Abnoy and his yellow army of thieves and murderers must face justice NOW.

  21. Has Noynoy run out of his Seroquel medication? Maybe he should overdose on it to hasten his demise.

  22. He better resign ASAP to save Himself and the Country.

    President Cory said to GMA – For the sake of the Country
    Make a “Supreme Sacrifice” – RESIGN.

    If still alive today – will she say it to her Son?

    If he will not resign – why?

    The “Nobel Prize” any any price.

    Again a “Fake Hero” – not anymore.

  23. Kapag ang US ay patuloy na inaaruga si Aquino at habang ang senator at congressman ,mga official at gabinte ay busog,lalo na ang yellow media na noon ay sumusuporta sa kanya,at patuloy na pagkahati ng mga pari!
    Wala kang makikitang pagbabago!
    Pahahabain lang nila ang pag-iimbestiga at kahit kailan di nila isasabit ang pangulo,dahil lahat ng mga nag-iimbestiga ay umaasa kay Aquino ng pondo!
    Huwag na kayong umasa na maaalis si Aquino!
    Ginagamit lang ng mga senator at nila de lima ang SAF 44 sa election!!ngo
    Ang media at tao ay paiikutin lang ng mga ito hanggang bumago ang pangalan nila!

  24. This part of your analysis merits most serious concern because it is likely to happen anytime. “There is another reason for resignation, which may matter more for Aquino and those who care for him: things will get even worse, and he may just break down.”

    We all know that the abnoy is a demented personality propped up only by prescription drugs to remain lucid. He had been that way since boyhood. This explains his record as a non-performer in every stage of his life up to now.

    His handling of the Mamasapano incident nakedly reveals his lack of a sane, coping mind. An ordinary rational man faced with such decision making challenges would have done better upon hearing that the SAF troopers were being attacked. I myself would have ordered re-enforcement and counter-attack. Not a “stand-down” . This spelled the doom of those brave but helpless SAF troopers.

    The Abnoy has courted the ire and rage of the Bangsamoro victims also. One victim declared on nationwide TV that the Bangsamoro population resented the statement of the Abnoy while waxing emotional, saying that “he is the father of the nation and he lost 44 children.” The Bangsamoro victim complained: “What about us, are we not also mourning the loss of our families; are we not also children of the nation?” The audience listening, choked with grief and irony. I checked the death toll of the Bangsamoro people. They lost lives in the hundreds. Verily, the Abnoy has been reckless again with his words. Because he is reckless and uncaring in his thoughts.

    So, is there really any option for the Abnoy but to step down? His not doing so will presage the loss of another life – that of the Abnoy!

  25. And who do you think would be the best person to replace Aquino? Dont tell me Binay? The Binay family already took advantage of the crisis by giving the wounded cops P10000 which is the taxpayers money of Makai. The Binays are using the taxpayers money to promote their political ambitions to amassed more wealth at the expense of the people. They are using their names instead of saying “From the people of Makati”. Ang kapal naman ng mukha ng mga Binays. Bakit ang CBCP tahimik pagdating sa mga katiwalian ng mga Binays? Ilang pajero ba ang ibinigay ni Binay sa CBCP? Payag kaming mga tahimik na mamamayan na palitan si Pinoy huwag lang si Binay ang presidente. Masyadong makapal ang mukha ng mga Binays.

    • Kick out d Asshole Abnoy…. he will do more damage to the country if we still have to wait till May 2016.Who knows Binay will have a better way to govern the country.Give him a chance, otherwise he will lose in d coming elections.