At the rate Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Edwin Lacierda,and other Palace aides are defending President BS. Aquino from responsibility, culpability or liability for the Mamasapano incident, they could make Aquino exceed disgraced US president Richard Nixon in justifying illegal acts in office. And they will present Aquno with a bill in the form of public disgust with him and his presidency.
In 1977, three years after Nixon’s resignation in disgrace from the US presidency, British Journalist David Frost conducted a series of interviews with Nixon. It consisted of 12 interviews in all. They were transformed into four programs. CBS broadcast the programs in May 1997.
In one key segment, Frost asked Nixon bluntly about the legality or illegality of his acts in office, and those of his key assistants in the White House. The transcript read as follows:
Richard Nixon: When you’re in office you gotta do a lot of things sometimes that are not always in the strictest sense of the law, legal, but you do them because they’re in the greater interest of the nation.
David Frost: Alright wait, wait just so I understand correctly, are you really saying that in certain situations the President can decide whether it’s in the best interest of the nation and then do something illegal?…
Richard Nixon: I’m saying that when the President does it, that means it’s “not’ illegal!
David Frost: I’m sorry.
Notice how it was Frost, not Nixon, who said “I’m sorry.”
This could steel Aquino even more in resisting calls for him to apologize for Mamasapano. This could intensify the advice of his aides and Cabinet for him to stonewall all efforts to make him accept responsibility, culpability and liability for the tragedy.
The Nixon-Frost interviews were broadcast by CBS in May 1977. The first interview garnered 45 million viewers, the biggest audience on record for a political interview in history.
Nixon earned a cool $1 million for his efforts.
The interviews fell short of his hope of being rehabilitated in the public. A subsequent survey showed that a good majority of Americans declared that he should never again serve in public office.
Lacierda and De Lima
Flash forward to March 2015.
In this one, it’s not President Aquino doing the talking but his aides and subordinates.
Malacañang, speaking through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, disputed the finding of the PNP Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) that the President broke the chain of command when he dealt directly with then Special Action Force (SAF) commander Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. and allowed then suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima to take part in Oplan Exodus that targeted high value terrorists.
“The first and most basic fact is that the Philippine
The PNP is a civilian institution, established to replace the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP),” Lacierda said.
“The President as Chief Executive cannot be subordinated to an internal process within the PNP when he exercises full and absolute control and supervision over all its members, regardless of rank,” Lacierda explained.
With similar ardor, Secretary Leila de Lima rebuffed the PNP-BOI’s conclusion that President Aquino broke the chain of command of the PNP, saying the President was not the commander-in-chief of the PNP in the first place.
“While the President has the prerogative to deal directly with any of his subordinates, the act of dealing with Napeñas instead of OIC-PNP Espina bypassed the established PNP Chain of Command,” the BOI report read.
“Comprehensive as the BOI Mamasapano Report wishes to be, it starts on the wrong premise insofar as the role of the President as commander-in-chief of the PNP is concerned,” De Lima pointed out.
“He is not the PNP commander-in-chief because under the 1987 Constitution, the PNP is no longer part of the Armed Forces. The President is only commander-in-chief in relation to the armed forces. The PNP, being a civilian agency, is not part of the armed forces,” De Lima maintained.
“In relation to the PNP, the President is the Chief Executive, in the same way that he acts as the Chief Executive to all the civilian agencies of the Executive bureaucracy,” she added.
De Lima accused the PNP of nurturing a “misplaced military culture and tradition” within its ranks, manifested by its belief that it is still part of the armed forces.”
She has had the temerity to dismiss an executive order signed by President Fidel V. Ramos on the subject of command responsibility. She does not recognize that in the bureaucracy, no less then in the military, there is a hierarchy of authority.
Private corporations and civic organizations have such structure.
Even our local barangay has a command structure.
It’s significant that Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell, John Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, wound up dead or in jail.
De Lima and Lacierda would do well to watch what they do and what they say. No one is amused.
From Richard 3rd to Aquino 3rd
They will have to summon all their wiles to deal with the fact that whatever title President Aquino wears on the Mamasapano incident – chief executive or commander in chief – Aquino authorized and micro-managed Oplan Exodus, and he placed suspended police general Alan Purisima in charge of the operation.
This connotes responsibility.
Lacierda’s and Delima’s defense of Aquino is even more frightening than Nixon’s defense. They use the word “absolute” to describe Aquino’s power.
This elevates Aquino 3rd to the level of the hunchback king, Richard 3rd.
As with the other Richard, when Richard 3rd did it, it was not illegal. It was deadly.
Same with Mamasapano.