LIKE a slow learner in school, the Aquino administration always has to be rudely awakened before it can gather its wits. It’s painful to say, but the tragedy of Mamasapano was a fated and necessary lesson for President Aquino to see the recklessness and grandiosity of his peace plan for the Philippine South. Absent this tragedy, we would not have seen the cliff to which he was leading the republic.
It was the same with Yolanda. Without the massive devastation and misery inflicted by the super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the nation would not have seen and realized how inept, how uncaring, and how calamitous is this government ruling over us. Despite the massive outpouring of international assistance, Aquino still could not get the job done.
And so also with the handling of billions of the people’s money and the crooked practices of the Aquino government. If not for an inadvertent revelation by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in the Senate, the awful reality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) would never have been exposed. The Supreme Court would not have reviewed and ruled on the unconstitutionality and illegality of many acts of the president and his budget secretary in the use of public funds.
Now, in the case of the Mamasapano Massacre, President Aquino has been joined by Congress in resisting the perfectly sensible course of creating and appointing an independent commission of inquiry to investigate what happened in Mamasapano, why it happened, and who committed the crimes and mistakes in the tragedy.
Instead, the administration launched multiple inquiries. Both houses of Congress launched separate inquiries, angling that the broadcast networks would cover them live.
Now, after three Senate hearings and one by the House, the congressional inquiries have been aborted. Significantly, at the point when they were beginning to get answers to tough questions like getting resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima to reveal if he reported directly to the President on the Mamasapano operation.
This was supposed to be an inquiry into an operation that went horribly wrong. Now, ironically, it’s the inquiry itself that has been botched.
Congress and the Palace steered the discussion away from the creation of an independent truth commission. Now, they and the nation are being steered, as if by the hand of heaven, towards the inevitable—the calling of an independent commission of inquiry. This is unavoidable now because no other course is going to satisfy the people’s clamor for answers. And by the people, we include all our men in uniform— our armed and police forces
The Palace hoped by its multiple-inquiry strategy to direct the finger of responsibility away from the President and to others. Instead, as things have turned out, the finger of blame is pointed principally at PNoy. This is what the people fervently believe, according to a survey commissioned by The Manila Times.
The inquiries were supposed to call out the perpetrators and the bunglers. Now, the overwhelming call — across all sectors and throughout the archipelago — is for the President to resign.
Aquino’s obfuscation of the truth has been unmasked as the facts were painstakingly extracted, one by one, by questioning during the inquiries and by the resolute investigation and reporting of the media.
Before the inquiry, we were losing trust in the President. Now we have lost trust in both the President and Congress. It’s doubtful if the Supreme Court can come to our rescue on this one—as it did with the DAP.
It’s hard to know what might have happened if the independent commission formula had been adopted, and truth had won the day. But we do know that truth squandered is trust lost.
We also know that once trust is gone, it’s very hard to restore. Over time, and not just during this administration, we have lost trust in one institution after another. But when we have lost faith in our government, we have also lost faith in ourselves.
So it is we the people who must set things right. It is we the people, demanding that our representative government do right by us, who can return the situation to normalcy.
In the face of unprecedented calamity—in the peace effort, in disaster response, in the handling of public funds, and in national leadership—we the people always must finally provide the solution.