(Updated) The crisis in Zamboanga reached epic levels yesterday as more than 62,000 people were displaced by the band of the Moro National Liberation Front’s siege on Zamboangw City effectively paralyzingly the city and its economy. In response, the country’s leadership descended into the city. President Benigno S. Aquino III and his crisis management committee— principally the heads of the Armed Forces, the secretary of defense, the secretary of the interior, and the social services secretary where on hand to deal with the crisis together with Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco.
Miscommunication, and confusion was rife. The day before— a Friday had social news site Rappler declared that 80 rebels surrendered. The news turned out to be inaccurate when no such surrender took place. Rappler subsequently published the side of Zamboanga councilor Teodyver Arquiza who is also a reporter involved in surrender.
Then yesterday morning, GMA 7’s banner headline read: “VP Binay says Zambo ceasefire in effect but fighting continues”. The article reads: “The truce Binay announced Friday night gave hope to Zamboanga residents that their nightmare would end. The city has been paralyzed, with ATMs out of cash and gas stations out of fuel; food is running out. Sea and air transport in and out of the city has been suspended.”
The story in a nutshell, the Vice President declared a ceasefire. He said the secretary of Defense knew about it. The palace rebuffed it, saying no such thing, and that operations were on going.
The Inquirer wrote that “Tweeple gave Binay ‘epal’ flak on Zambo truce.“. To add to the fire, Joey Salgado, of Vice President Binay’s media team tweeted that the Vice President was meeting with the President, the Defense secretary, the Philippine National Police Chief, and Makati a Mayor Jun Binay.
What was the Mayor of Makati doing in Zamboanga? Certainly, Zamboanga has its own, more than competent Mayor Climaco running the show, protecting her city. And is Mayor Binay high up in the food chain to have a security clearance?
On leaving Zamboanga behind the Vice President’s office issued a statement. It went: “The Vice President is sad that his efforts to secure the release of the hostages in Zamboanga City did not prosper. Both the MNLF and the Philippine government wanted peace but there terms set that were not acceptable. The Vice President asks everyone to pray for the safety of the hostages and for peace in Zamboanga City.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted a cabinet official that the Vice President was not authorized to negotiation on behalf of the government nor the President. The quote goes: “He (Binay) is trying to insert himself. He’s jeopardizing the safety of the troops because of politicking,” said the official. “Per Volt (Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin), there’s no ceasefire.” The Inquirer further verified the Vice President’s statement and asked the National Security Adviser, as well Peace Process Adviser Teresita Deles.
Rappler asked the Vice President about his failed trip to Zamboanga. Here’s a snippet of that conversation:
Rappler: The local crisis committee and some Cabinet officials who spoke anonymously to media said you did not coordinate with them.
Binay: I don’t know with them if they said that. It seems that they are lying. As I’m telling you, I said that on Wednesday, I told the President about it. Thursday morning, I was talking to Secretary Gazmin. Friday evening, I was talking to Sec Gazmin. What are they saying that there was no coordination?
— Jonathan Castillo (@tatancast) September 15, 2013
On Sunday, Jim Paredes tweeted that VP Binay on television said that Nur Misuari “authorized him to announce a ceasefire”. Paredes added, “I didn’t know Nur was his Commander-in-Chief.”
VP Binay said on TV that Nur authorized him to announce a ceasefire. I did not know Nur was his commander in chief.
— Jim (@Jimparedes) September 15, 2013
Last I checked, aiding and abetting enemies of the state were grounds for treason. Did the Vice President indadvertedly commit treason? Whose side is he on?
— WhatAWasteOfAdMoney (@wawam) September 15, 2013
Since when did a sitting VP become the spokesperson for a rebel? Whose side is he on? Answer: his own, no one else's.
— Leah Navarro (@leahnavarro) September 15, 2013
VP Binay on Balitanghali: "Ang Twitter ay ginagamit nalang sa paninira." – Kaya pala text blast ang preferred medium of propaganda nya.
— The Chief Jester (@Article8Jester) September 15, 2013
The best the Vice President can come up with is that the government uses “twitter” as a payload for propaganda. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that in a time of crisis, the Vice President kept pushing himself into the conversation. Which begs the question: doesn’t he have a direct line to the President?
The Secretary of the Interior, Mar Roxas is on the ground. Roxas being the interior secretary and once the Vice President’s rival for the VP role has all the cameras on him. He is taking an active role in solving the problem. Tweets based on Roxas’ performance thus far said they don’t like that the interior secretary downplays their plight. In many ways, Roxas is acting as the President’s right hand man on this mission.
In the waning days of the 2012 United States Presidential Campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. Obama, being president was on television and on cable doing what president’s do: being President. It musth ave irked Romney to no end that he couldn’t actively use the disaster to portray himself as more presidential. It was simply uncalled for.
For the next three years Binay and Roxas has that relationship. The former is the President in waiting, and the latter a possible contender for the higher position on the land. It doesn’t hurt that that for Roxas, the role of Interior Secretary is a prominent one. It also doesn’t hurt that the President uses him as his go to person in time of crisis. Something a Vice President ought to be in such a situation. We’re wrong to continuously vote President and VP from different parties. I think it doesn’t help and makes for a disastrous political life.
For an astute politician like Jejomar Binay, why does he insist to be on the ground in a crisis, if the President should fail, where he has the opportunity to tell the public, you know what, I asked the President to help but you shut me out and look where it got us?
so essentially, what happened last night was that jejomar found a way to gatecrash into the crisis management team. no more, no less.
— the jester-in-exile (@jesterinexile) September 14, 2013
Manny Pinol who is similarly disgusted with the situation wrote, “Somebody must shake up Vice President Binay and remind him that while he may be a cinch to become the next President, he is not the President yet.
Binay’s move, while it may contribute to ending the stand-off in Zamboanga City is an obvious politicking and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.”
Does it matter who brokered the final deal? Does it matter who brought peace to Zamboanga? Of course not. The problem simply was that Jejomar Binay and others inserting themselves into the process when there was a clear chain of command. The world is split. On one side, Filipinos fighting for peace and on the other side those trying to be relevant like Binay and the Left.
Aurora Pijuan published on her Facebook timeline this photo with the caption: “Binay is just trying to help… di ba? Was Junjun there to distribute the bags?”
When Vice President’s rumored brokered ceasefire didn’t materialized, I tweeted “Binaying should mean burning fail and epalling?”
@raggster quickly replied, “Binaying” IMHO should mean “being epal in a grandiose, brazen manner disproportionate to the actual scope of one’s position.”
In a nutshell, the Vice President’s disastrous foray can be summed up as, Binay was Binaying.