Thursday, March 12, 2015

The ‘blame duck’

A friend in the academe has come up with a neologism that perfectly describes President Noynoy Aquino these days, as he simultaneously strives with all his might to escape culpability for the Mamasapano massacre and to keep himself relevant in the national conversation at the twilight of his term. Aquino, this friend said, has transmogrified into a “blame duck” President.
Aquino’s blame duck-ness makes him point to anyone except himself as responsible when things go wrong. And it also forces him to salvage whatever remains of his relevance as he shambles, in his trademark newly-circumcised walk, to the end of his term – assuming he even makes it there.
The blame duck President, who once could do no wrong, has transformed himself into someone who is responsible for nothing that did not go right. And he has lost all is vaunted power to influence what will happen after he steps down, whether in 2016 or earlier.
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The most compelling argument to explain Aquino’s surreal speech last Monday was that he had received an advance copy of the Board of Inquiry’s report on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre. And that he used the Malacanang prayer session with a group of evangelical leaders to head off the conclusions of the report by presenting his own, bizarre version of the events of that day, while causing the delay in the official report’s release.
There is no other conclusion that can be made. Except perhaps that, all things considered, Aquino should stick to his policy of disappearing whenever a crisis occurs because it’s when he opens his mouth that he really gets into trouble.
Aquino had a mouthful to say to his audience of Christian leaders at Malacanang last Monday, during which prayers were said for him that he may weather the continuing controversy about his handling of the  Mamasapano massacre. And it basically revolved around his earlier contention that Director Getulio Napenas, the dismissed commander of the Special Action Force, was solely to blame for the bloody encounter that left 44 commandos dead.
The President stuck to his original position that Napenas was responsible for the whole fiasco. And he added the new assertion that the police official repeatedly fooled and deceived him.
Throughout his lengthy speech, Aquino harped on Napenas’ culpability. But he never mentioned his own or that of the man who acted, by all accounts, as his go-between in giving orders to the SAF commander – suspended national police chief Alan Purisima, his close associate and good friend.
It was as revisionist as any speech given by Aquino in his nearly five years in office. And it seemed calculated, in Aquino’s strange way, to pre-empt the still-unreleased report of the police Board of Inquiry which has been investigating the incident.
Consider: Why would Aquino unequivocally declare Napenas’ guilt even before it has yet to be officially established, especially by the BOI? Why would he absolve himself and not even mention Purisima, even if it has already been established in various Congress hearings that all three of them knew what was happening that fateful Sunday, while almost every other official was kept in the dark?
Did the President really intend to depict himself as someone so easily fooled in order to establish that he did nothing wrong? Did he think that he had eliminated any responsibility by declaring that a mere police officer was calling the shots in a top-secret operation to grab a wanted international terrorist and remanding all his direct orders, as well as the “advice” proffered by his good buddy Purisima?
Now that the President himself has pinned the blame on Napenas for the massacre, shouldn’t charges be filed posthaste against the general for willful disobedience to direct orders from his Commander-in-Chief, resulting in the death of so many commandos?
Shouldn’t we stop waiting for the BOI to complete its investigation and immediately act on Aquino’s allegations instead?
These are very important questions that have been raised by Aquino’s outburst against Napenas. And unlike his usual ranting against his supposed attention-seeking critics (something he delivers every other speech he makes), this is not just Noynoy being Noynoy.
The Mamasapano probe is a matter of life and death for the Aquino administration. And all the President’s attempts to influence police probers – who cannot be expected, unlike Napenas, to go against his wishes by debunking his version of the “truth” – just leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Aquino just comes off as being in full panic mode, grabbing every opportunity to dissuade the people from believing “truths” that are different from his own. It’s pathetic, really, when a President resorts to blame-tossing to wiggle his way out of a situation that he directly created.
But Aquino’s real problem, I think, is that he disappears when he should speak and speaks when he should actually be quietly awaiting the results of an official investigation. Aquino is his own worst enemy, missing or speaking.

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