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Saturday, February 14, 2015

A lying President


By Jojo Robles 
When a President lies to save his own skin, you know he recognizes that his days as the highest official in the land could be numbered. And when that President is the same one who was swept to power because of supposed virtues of righteousness, transparency and good governance, perhaps it’s time to put an actual number on the remaining days of his stay in Malacañang Palace—and to realize it’s going to be way ahead of the last day of his six-year term.
That was quite a speech given on primetime television by President Noynoy Aquino last Friday evening. And what made it truly remarkable was how he sacrificed his longtime shooting buddy and security aide, suspended national police chief Director General Alan Purisima, but was still able to lie about his involvement as the prime mover of the disastrous raid that led to the killing of 44 police commandos belonging to the Special Action Force.
Let’s get one thing straight: Anyone who still thinks that the dangerous operation to extract Malaysian terrorist Marwan from the territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front did not have the personal blessing of Aquino himself is living in a fantasy world.
Only Aquino could have authorized such a foolhardy operation. No one else has the power to do so.
And Purisima, whom Aquino admitted he had consulted about the operation, is not the type of police official who would go rogue. The fact that the operation was green-lighted at all, after the Department of Interior and Local Government, the leadership of the Philippine National Police and practically the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines had been kept in the dark about “Oplan Exodus,” which took place last Jan. 25, and the earlier “Oplan Wolverine,” the similar Purisima-planned operation that was scuttled in the middle of last year, speaks loudly and long about the direct involvement of Aquino himself.
And yet, on television, Aquino refused to detail or even to mention his own participation in the entire operation. Covering his own tracks was what Aquino was doing on national television; and I actually believe that he was telling the truth about how hard it was for him to let go of Purisima, whom he praised to high heavens and whose resignation he still accepted.
Ultimately, Aquino will have to answer the question posed by the late former US senator and diplomat Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings that forced the resignation of Richard Nixon: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
Until Aquino comes clean on this matter, he can fire anyone he wants to save himself. But he will still have to own up to the responsibility of sending the SAF team on a suicide mission into rebel territory with no backup, just to rehabilitate and reinstate his suspended police chief.
Maybe Aquino will make another presidential speech to own up to his responsibility soon, because the pressure is truly mounting on him to tell the whole truth. But he really should have done that a lot earlier, because now may already be too late.
* * *
Why it is so hard for Aquino to tell the truth about the operation to get Marwan in MILF territory with only a small band of PNP-SAF officers of men, I’ve already discussed at length. Aquino is unique among all previous Presidents I’ve observed as a journalist for nearly 30 years because he simply cannot accept that he is wrong or even responsible.
Perhaps, in Aquino’s mind, he is truly incapable of error, even if he has had no real prior executive experience and despite the fact that he has surrounded himself with people of questionable morals and capabilities like Purisima, who has already been suspended on corruption charges. In nearly five years in office, despite the number of incidents involving presidential bungling starting with the killing of a bunch of Chinese tourists in August 2010 at Rizal Park, Aquino has never admitted to making a mistake, ever.
And for the most part, the people, the media and Congress have accepted Aquino’s lame excuses for being incompetent, lazy and just plain stupid. But the long-running conspiracy to protect Aquino from himself has only resulted in reinforcing his own belief in his own invincibility and emboldened him to keep attempting even more questionable actions, like his creation of the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program and the Purisima-hatched incursion into Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Unfortunately for Aquino and those who would keep him in power despite all his near-fatal failings, the people are now wising up quickly that their President is really a clueless buffoon with absolutely no sympathy for their ever-worsening plight. And that he remains in power only because powerful interests want to keep up the pretense that he is in control, when he is only a marionette dancing to strings held by monopolistic oligarchs, political opportunists and foreign powers who want to dismember this country and exploit its resources.
What a worthless President we have. And he cannot be allowed, if there is really justice and fairness, to stay in office a moment longer.

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