Noynoy flunks his first test

ABS-CBN’s Maria Ressa wrote for the Wall Street Journal.  Here is a snippet:

The factions also played a role in the management of public information and press coverage. The Palace Communications Group, which in the past was headed by one press secretary, now has three leaders with cabinet secretary rank: the Samar faction’s Sonny Coloma and the Balay faction’s Edwin Lacierda and Ricky Carandang, the latter of whom is a former television anchor for my news organization. Thus on the fateful day, the administration had trouble deciding what to say and how to say it. Local officials were left to handle messaging, focusing on the details rather than the broader substance and impact of the day’s events. Hong Kong’s chief executive Donald Tsang was even prevented from talking to Mr. Aquino.

For many Filipinos, this bungling is wearingly familiar. The country has a famously weak system of law and order which often sees criminals go unpunished. Mr. Aquino ran for office promising to clean up this culture of corruption. That’s why the hostage crisis was so disturbing: It was a disastrous example of incompetence, political factionalism and lack of national leadership.

All of which points back to the president’s office. Like his mother, President Aquino is easy-going, well-liked by his peers, and shies away from controversy and conflict. That manner of governance might have worked in the House and Senate, where he failed to initiate or pass any bill, but it doesn’t work in the president’s office. The Samar and Balay factional split represents a real test of Mr. Aquino’s leadership—between familiar, highly valued personal loyalty and generational change and professionalism.

The president’s indecisiveness has already indirectly led to one tragedy. The coming weeks will show whether he can learn from his mistakes, or whether the Philippines is in for another Aquino presidency that has good intentions but bungled outcomes.

The observation isn’t entirely without merit.  Whether it is a conscious decision or not— Filipinos are insisting that they be lead by a King, or what passes for one in a democratic society such as the Philippines.  Does the answer lie in a President becoming more Solomon?

Image: AFP/Yahoo!

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

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  • UP nn grad

    The cameras were rolling and TV broadcasts were continuous since 3PM at least. To suggest that media would be able to predict which broadcast segment was newsworthy is crazy. To suggest that media would know to shut down the broadcasts 5 minutes or 30 minutes before some event that was going to make Captain Mendoza go-crazy is nonsense. Media did not have access to psychologists much less astrologers; crisis committee did. And media are less intelligent and skilled than the crisis-committee with regards hostage situations. And it is the crisis committee that had the people who are more knowledgeable and experienced on how policemen think. The crisis-committee had the personnel who are better-equipped to know Captain Mendoza’s hot buttons.
    ——-
    Thou shalt sanitize. Thou shalt not write anything that puts the sitting president in a bad light.

    Sounds awful.

  • UP nn grad

    to the Cusp: Why do you keep saying that the national government did not have jurisdictional authority over the crisis? It did! Versoza reports directly to Prsident Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

    If you listen to the interview — President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III with the 3-person panel — you will quickly sense that President Aquino did NOT even think of relinquishing control to Lim. President Aquino was calling his reports; President Aquino never telephoned Lim. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III did NOT think that control was with Lim because President Noynoy Aquino was being given boladas and lies.

    Whatever control Lim and Isko Moreno had was only because “National”-crisis-committee gave it to them.

    As for the television-broadcasts? At noon, the crisis committee could have sent in baton-twirling troopers to ask media to unplug their cameras (so that the government channels can do media-broadcasts). If not at noon, then at 1:30PM, or 2:30PM, or 5:00PM — the crisis committee could have asked media to unplug their television-cameras.

    The crisis-committee probably did not think to ask media to shut down their TV cameras because the crisis-committee was relying heavily on the TV cameras to get information about what was going on, relying on media so badly that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and the crisis committee lost “connection” to the crisis when they went to Emerald Restaurant where the TV sets were not working.

    And then this…. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the crisis committee and the media were all working with the same assumption — that Captain Mendoza was not going to pull the trigger or that Mayor Lim or anyone of the crisis committee was not going to precipitate action that will push an agitated rifle-wielding man into violence.

    The cameras were rolling since noon. The cameras were rolling at 2:45PM. The cameras were rolling and TV broadcasts were ongoing at 3:15PM and at 5:47PM. Media did not have access to psychologists nor to astrologers. To suggest that media could have done better than the crisis-committee in predicting when Mendoza was going to pull the trigger is nonsense.

    As for Ressa? A number of reporters and columnists would say that Philippine media should not write anything that puts in a bad light whoever is sitting in Malacanang. That will be biting the hand that feeds you.

  • manuel buencamino

    During a forum at the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines last August 28, Friday, she said that had ABS-CBN unilaterally stopped or delayed its broadcast, “We would have been criticized by the viewers or what viewers would have done is switch stations.”

    “If only one network does it, you would just switch to another. Needed gov’t to ask for blackout from all. We would’ve cooperated.” – maria ressa @ tweeter

    What mark would you give Ressa?

  • When will we realize that the so-called unbiased and unfiltered reporting of the media is a myth? I have a simple test that I apply here: if in reporting events, the media alters them, then they are no longer an impartial channel in that sense.

    The government was at fault in that it failed to handle the press, and their failing to do so, may have cost lives. That is truly tragic. But that doesn’t absolve the media from being partially at fault for the botched incident.

    The problem as I see it though was one of jurisdiction. The local crisis committee was given the prerogative to handle the crisis. I can envisage different protocols in the future which would mandate a national crisis committee to take charge automatically when foreigners are involved.

    We cannot fault the Communications Group for not handling the media since the national govt did not have jurisdictional authority over the crisis at that point. This should have been performed by the media relations officer of the Western Police District. In the aftermath, we can probably examine if the administration acquitted itself properly in observing the proper diplomatic protocol, but that is slowly coming to light now.

    In short, to give PNoy failing marks at this point shows a lack of impartiality to say the least.

  • UP nn grad

    I disagree with Cusp portrayal of the Ressa article. I look positively, it is good that Maria Ressa got an article in the Wall Street Journal. So it is editorializing and it is a stinging rebuke when Maria Ressa says “…the hostage crisis was so disturbing: It was a disastrous example of incompetence, political factionalism and lack of national leadership” and “…The president’s indecisiveness has already indirectly led to one tragedy.” But the rebuke from a world-recognized newspaper should get Noynoy’s attention.

    It will make good press if Noynoy were to say “Maria Ressa? She has no moral authority to slime anyone”. But Noynoy should leave the mudslinging to others. What I will value more from Noynoy will be action where Noynoy implements organizational and managerial leadership. The testimonies before deLima-inquiry show that Quirino grandstand tragedy goes beyond those policemen bumbling into action with sledgehammers or Tulfo and RMN on the cellphone with Mendoza. More serious — organizational flaws and missing policies and procedures. Much more is needed to enhance PNP ability to respond to future Quirino-grandstand events. If he has to fire Robredo, so be it. (I hope he fires his shooting-buddy first!) Put Binay or Versoza over DILG? That will be Noynoy’s call. So be it. After all, Noynoy has mandate after the past elections, right?

  • Stephen, I wasn’t defending the administration. I was merely pointing out that Maria Ressa’s assessment of PNoy is unwarranted given her own involvement as news director of a station. She has gone from merely reporting to editorializing. You don’t trip someone and then turn around and tell that person that he’s not well-coordinated. Or that it was his fault for not restraining you in the first place. It is a little disingenuous.

  • Up n grad that would be me. Sorry don’t have much on file. With regard to Ressa assertion that on palace comm group, we posted a piece on should carandang be blamed. The executive order was pretty clear as to the responsibilities of Carandang and Coloma. So is it a lack of understanding of the public and media at large as who does what?

    In that aspect, Ressa got it wrong. On the aspect that here is Ressa pontificating while the media which she represents also at fault and nothing to signify an act of contrition is sad but not unexpected.

    What has some merit is that Aquino is president now and he needs to crack the whip and get his people to work together. That’s his job now. In any organization with smart and capable people it is only natural for humans to butt heads.

  • UP nn grad

    Who chose to attach the picture of Noynoy smiling to go along with a Ressa/Wall Street Journal storyline about Chinese murders during August 23?

  • stephen_chao

    Well, admit it or not, Pnoy really lacks the leadership qualities. How can you defend such a president! What a shame on you both!

  • I agree with liberdad. “He who is without sin should cast the first stone.” What is conveniently left out here is how the media contributed to the bungled operation. Are they now trying to deflect attention on to the administration because of their own mistakes. A little introspection and reticence would do them some good.

  • liberdad

    Perhaps Ms. Ressa should first talk about HER complete fuck up during the hostage crisis. Or perhaps someone else should. I lost all respect for her when she defended the media’s actions. What shame!