This is the most sensible response to the concerted program of deception, which the Administration, with the support of Congress and the crony media, has launched in order to cover up President Aquino’s accountability in the Mamasapano incident.
The political thinker and pundit, Walter Lippmann, gave this classic definition of deception: “I include under the term ‘deception’ the whole art of propaganda, whether it consists of half-truths, lies, ambiguities, evasions, calculated silence, red herrings, unresponsiveness, slogans, catchwords, showmanship, bathos, hokum, and buncombe. . .they are one and all methods of preventing a disinterested inquiry into the situation.”
Lippmann names it, the Administration has employed them all in the Mamasapano crisis.
When both houses of Congress folded their inquiries and televised hearings stopped, the public outcry against a whitewash was so deafening, Congress quickly relented and announced that they would resume the hearings.
Last Monday, the Senate called its fifth public hearing, with the committee on public order under Sen. Grace Poe once again leading the proceedings.
Predictably, as conjectured by some members of the media, the Administration unveiled a new strategy in the resumed inquiry. Where in the previous hearings, it relied mainly on a strategy of tagging fired SAF director Getulio Napeñas as the one responsible for the tragic operation, this time around it transformed the Senate into a kind of wrestling tag team.
The republic’s senators, led by Senate President Franklin Drilon, took turns in constructing a new smokescreen and cover for President Aquino so he could dilute his accountability and role in Mamasapano.
The first element of the strategy consisted of belaboring the word “misinformed.” In questioning generals who got involved in the incident when it was at crisis stage, the senators sought to establish the fact that the President was misinformed on what was happening in Maguindanao that Sunday. They conceded the fact that PNoy knew about the incident as early as five o-clock that morning.
For all their efforts, however, they could not cover up the fact that the President did nothing as commander-in-chief to order swift and urgent reinforcements to be provided to the beleaguered commandos. There were long hours when nothing was done while our elite policemen were being cut down by enemy forces.
The second leg of the strategy consisted of pinning suspended PNP director-general Alan Purisima to the wall. The senators pinned him down on (1) giving the go-signal to Oplan Exodus, (2) usurping the post of PNP commander even while he was under suspension; (3) delegating to General Napeñas the authority to launch the operation; and (4) instructing Napeñas not to inform the PNP OIC general Espina and DILG secretary Mar Roxas. But he also established the fact that he gave President Aquino continuous updates on Exodus through text messages.
The resumed hearing also gave the AFP chief of staff, General Catapang, extended time to publicly complain about the troops’ sense of grievance that the AFP was being blamed by the public for failing to go to the aid of the commandos. He discussed how concerned units acted to respond to the request for reinforcements, and how in fact the military saved a number of commandos.
Some media organizations, who have consistently supported President Aquino in every crisis, played along with the strategy, and dutifully informed the public that PNoy was misinformed during the Mamasapano incident. They also took to calling the event a “clash.”
But the verbal play had nowhere to go. The issue kept coming back to the fact that President did not lift a finger when he might have intervened more decisively. To the question whether PNoy issued any instructions to aid the commandos, the answer was always “No.”
This is the thing that has always rankled with the families of the slain commandos and the public. On a matter of life-and-death, he did not care enough to use his vast powers as president and commander-in-chief to save our men in uniform.
No whitewash, no cover-up can wipe away the shame of this failure of leadership.
People will always know and remember this.
This is why on this 25th of February, the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, people are massing at the EDSA shrine and calling on the President to step down.
“In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up,” it said.
The Mischief president is misinformed, misleading.