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?