GMANews.TV - Tuesday, September 7
GMANews.TV - Tuesday, September 7
Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman scored as “evasive, trivial and unresponsive” President Benigno Aquino’s standard answer that the opposition is “expected” to criticize his administration and its officials.
Lagman said that his call for the resignation of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Presidential Communications Group Secretaries Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma cannot be dismissed by President Aquino as mere ranting or politicking of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives.
Lagman explained that the accusation of “palpable incompetence” and “culpable indifference” of these Cabinet members resulting to the hostage-taking fiasco is a serious indictment based on admitted and irrefutable facts.
The Bicol solon observed that the entire nation and the whole world were horrified witnesses to the tragic bungling of the Aquino administration’s response to the first major crisis to confront it.
President Aquino’s explanation of his absence during the 11-hour siege that he “purposely tried not to interfere” makes it even worse according to Lagman because the President failed to make a decisive and immediate presidential action as demanded by the crisis situation.
Lagman underscored that the statement of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda that the resignation call was premature and should wait for the result of the investigation failed to consider that responsible police officials and Sec. Robredo himself have admitted major lapses and serious inadequacies in the authorities’ negotiations and rescue operations.
Lagman said that Robredo’s defense that the incident was purely a “police matter” is shortsighted and faulty because it overlooked that the tragedy has direct repercussions on the country’s international standing and economy.
Even granting that Robredo’s assessment is correct that it was only a police concern, he cannot escape responsibility because he has jurisdiction, control and supervision over the Philippine National Police (PNP), Lagman added.
Carandang and Coloma are equally liable for failing to enforce existing international protocol for media covering hostage-taking incidents to ensure the safety of the hostages and prevent the leak of official planning and execution of rescue operations.
Neither a postmortem of the tragic hostage-taking fiasco nor a contrite presidential apology will be enough if the heads of high ranking responsible officials are spared.
Palpable incompetence and culpable indifference must not be condoned in order that bungling and inept hostage crisis operations will not be repeated and to assure foreign governments that ineffectual and errant performance of government officials will not be tolerated.
Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Secretaries Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Group should all resign and take responsibility for the fatal blunders in the handling of the hostage crisis last Monday.
Robredo exercises jurisdiction over the Philippine National Police (PNP) whose ground commanders and SWAT elements bungled the negotiations and rescue operations resulting in the death of eight tourists from
Concerned police officials have already admitted the serious failures and major defects in the handling of the crisis situation, and command responsibility is lodged with Robredo who failed to take full control of the situation and did not immediately respond to the scene of the crisis which lasted 11 hours.
Carandang and Coloma failed to rein in media practitioners from broadcasting live police rescue operations which allowed the hostage-taker, former Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, to monitor the coverage on the tourist bus television and anticipate police action.
Crisis protocol for media covering hostage-taking incidents has long been established internationally so that the safety of the hostages is not compromised and official planning and execution not exposed.
Both Carandang and Coloma failed to enforce this protocol on the media which covered live the crisis situation. In fact, Carandang even defended media’s improvident live coverage.
Likewise, there is no report that either Carandang or Coloma went to the venue of the crisis during the 11-hour ordeal.
If Robredo, Carandang and Coloma do not resign voluntarily, President Benigno Aquino III should fire them from the Cabinet for palpable incompetence and culpable indifference, and for being unmindful of the adverse effects of the hostage crisis, if not properly addressed and solved, to the economy, tourism and overseas employment.