Alfredo Lim

From Erap’s Playbook

Jinggoy

Jinggoy is no stranger to controversy. More than a decade ago, he and his father were jailed for participating in the Jueteng scandal exposed by whistleblower Chavit Singson. He was later released on bail by the Sandiganbayan and acquitted. His father Joseph Erap Estrada however was not so lucky. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, although later pardoned by the woman who deposed and prosecuted him, Mrs Arroyo.

The fact that Mr Estrada today enjoys his freedom and greater popularity than Mrs Arroyo is nothing short of a stunning turn of events. It should be recalled that in the lead up to his impeachment, Erap’s popularity was plummeting. He had always denied any involvement in the Jueteng scandal, maintained his innocence throughout the judicial proceedings, refused to recognise the legitimacy of the trial and its verdict, and likened his predicament to that of many famous dissidents like Ninoy Aquino and Nelson Mandela.

In 2010, the rehabilitation of the Estradas was complete as Erap overtook Manny Villar to claim second spot after Noynoy Aquino in the presidential derby. His ability to knock off Alfredo Lim in 2013 to become Manila mayor is testament to the success of his strategy to regain the people’s trust despite having been convicted of a high crime by claiming himself a victim of political persecution by someone he presented as a usurper of his office. The fact that Mrs Arroyo damaged her own credibility by subsequent events fed into this narrative.

But now his son, who has been tagged by whistleblowers to be a principal in the Janet Napoles P10 billion pork barrel scam, is seeking to lift a page from the father’s playbook. In a privilege speech before the Senate, the younger Estrada claimed he was a victim of trial by publicity, of political persecution and of demonisation by his colleagues. He decried the fact that despite the COA’s identification of anomalous transactions by his colleagues, he and two other opposition bloc senators have been singled out by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigations.

In an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of proceedings at the senate, he accused its president Sen Franklin Drilon of offering a gratuitous amount of P50 million to reward him and his colleagues for voting to convict Chief Justice Corona with the imprimatur of Budget Secretary Butch Abad. After accusing his fellow senators of dragging his name through the mud, he then proceeded to name a number of them as well and question why the spotlight hasn’t been focused on them.

There are several reason why this ploy by Jinggoy may not work effectively against the current administration as it did against its predecessor. One is the fact that President Aquino enjoys the public’s trust and confidence, maintaining his net satisfaction rating at high levels three years into his presidency, something unheard of since data has been collected on this. Two is the fact that Jinggoy has not denied receiving and using his PDAF allotments. Third is the unpopularity of pork barrel, in the light of the ostentatious display of wealth by one of its fixers Ms Janet Napoles.

The LABAN-Liberal rivalry

Remnants of the progressive struggle are locked together in a dance of mutual political survival.

As the news dailies ran stories on the increased scrutiny being placed on the presiden’ts pals, some within the movement that elected him have begun to voice some reservations or outright indignation at the way he has handled the situation so far. Following the Luneta incident and the firing/resigning of Secretary Jose De Jesus, many cannot reconcile the behavior of their “white knight” towards those in his camp that have not acquited themselves all that honorably.

It will one day make for an interesting study to look at the rivalry between the Balay and Samar factions, or what I would like to call the LABAN-Liberal rivalry. Although as Manolo Quezon once put to me commitment to political parties has yet to take root in the Philippines, these parties come close to approximating such a tradition. They were borne out of the struggle against martial law and the two opposing poles of how to bring it to an end.

To understand how or why the Aquinos behave in relation to these rivaling camps, you have to first go back in time to the 1970s, to 1978 when the imprisoned Ninoy Aquino was “abandoned” by the LP and left without a party to run in the parliamentary elections scheduled that year. Having none of the stalwarts of the party like Jovito Salonga or Gerry Roxas to provide a stiff challenge to Marcos, Ninoy turned to more junior people. This is how LABAN was formed.

Explaining the Aquinos

The man who helped create the name, Lakas ng Bayan, the late Alfonso Policarpio, in his book Ninoy: The Willing Martyr coined a very poignant phrase to capture the mood of the Aquinos during this period of their struggle. A caption of a photo of Ninoy and Cory standing together during his military trial reads, a time when so few cared. This perhaps is one of the reasons why the Aquino children have gravitated more to the Samar group, the ones that had supported the “Noy-Bi” ticket. They had been there during their darkest days. To quote a once popular beer ad iba ang may pinagsamahan.

Secondly, one has to go to the early days of the first Aquino presidency to discover why PNoy took the unpopular decision to support his close friends. In The Aquino Management of the Presidency: In the Face of Crisis (1992) published by the presidential management staff, one finds a vivid recount of those early days from the point of view of palace insiders. According to the document, Cory convened her cabinet on July 9, 1986 to assess the aftermath of the “Manila Hotel incident” the first coup of her several months’ old presidency. After their deliberations, Presidential Spokesman Rene Saguisag was quoted saying

In hindsight (Minister of Local Governments), Nene Pimentel was correct about removing the incumbent local chief executives and replacing them with OICs. Had the duly elected Mayors of Metro Manila been retained, they would have been able to mobilize in support of the Marcos loyalists. There would have been a greater likelihood that the government would have fallen.

In response to a reporter’s query on why he had not accepted in full DOJ Sec De Lima’s recommendations in the aftermath of the “Luneta incident” regarding Mayor Alfredo Lim and Usec Ricardo Puno, PNoy gave a very cryptic remark about sticking with your allies because of counter revolutionary moves to unseat them. Using the preceding bit of history you can easily decode his message.

This siege mentality on the part of PNoy can also be understood by recalling that Noynoy was ambushed and nearly perished in 1987 during the “God Save the Queen” rebellion staged by renegade RAM soldiers that nearly toppled his mother from office. His appreciation for allies and the need for self-protection led him to the firing range where he no doubt established strong bonds with his shooting buddies.

Thirdly, to understand the accommodation of Binay’s faction within cabinet, one has to go back to the local government elections of 1988. In the book From Marcos to Aquino: Local Perspectives in the Transition in the Philippines (1991) by Ben Kerkvliet and Resil B Mojares, one gains a “street-level” view of the rough and tumble world of politics immediately following EDSA I.

The OIC’s appointed by Interior Minister Nene Pimentel were made to defend their positions a mere 18 months after their appointment. Many of them were novices (like PNoy’s inner circle) but had replaced long-standing provincial and municipal warlords. The strategies for bringing the fruits of people power to the grassroots as observed by Kerkvliet and Mojares in the book either took the form of a hard-line approach or a soft, conciliatory one.

To illustrate their point, they turned to the experience of one OIC governor in Central Luzon, a PDP-LABAN member (in the interest of full disclosure, that man was my father Noli), who had employed the soft approach in the face of repeated assassination attempts. After the election, he along with many of Pimentel’s party had been decimated through the ballot either legitimately or illegitimately . In contrast, Mayor Binay whose house was strafed with bullets in the run up to the elections survived by employing tough ward politics in Makati.

The social experiment involving the soft and hard approaches and the lessons learned from that period help to define the philosophy of the PDP-Laban to this day. The Pimentels themselves have suffered at the hands of “dagdag-bawas”. Like some battle-weary revolutionaries that later get accused of employing the same tactics that they had once raged against, the idealism of these players has been tempered by real world events. PNoy knows this, and he knows he can count on them when the going gets tough.

Where to from here?

Finally we ought to consider where this rivalry is likely to lead. Having formed a coalition ticket back in 1992 (Salonga-Pimentel), will its current incarnation be counter-productive or supportive of the president’s agenda?

Vice president Binay with his vast experience in providing effective government service at the local level and who has had one year to settle into his new role might have a head start. DOTC Sec Mar Roxas might struggle at first. He has never been in this type of role before, nor does he have a technical background.

The handing over of the DOTC to a politician may not necessarily have been an astute move from the policy angle given the pricing and subsidy schemes that it involves. Being more sensitive to public opinion with regard to fare rate hikes might cost the government more than it can afford.

On the other hand, both the housing and the transportation and communications portfolios rely on private financing; and both involve projects that are labor intensive and employment generating. Their managerial abilities in moving investments through the project pipeline and securing local content for projects will determine their success at generating employment. Here perhaps Mar Roxas will have an advantage having worked with big investors at the DTI.

The developmental state’s dual role

If we are to use the developmental state as a model for what the Philippines should be striving towards, then apart from delivering services to the socially disadvantaged, the other, and often neglected role of the state, which is to channel resources to the more productive ones, has to be attended to. The growth sectors of the economy are after all the main sources of additional taxes used for expanding redistributive programs.

If one looks at the Philippine Development Plan, the main objective of which is to generate faster, deeper and broader growth, one finds a succinct diagnosis of the current situation:

Low growth is due to low investment and slow technological progress because of inadequate infrastructure, as well as glaring gaps in governance. Narrow growth, meanwhile, is largely attributed to lack of human capital formation among the poor and the failure to transform output growth to job creation.

To address this, the Plan aims to unlock investments in infrastructure through PPPs and better governance frameworks and re-distribute the growing revenues from a more productive economy through social development. If one looks at the 2011 budget, this intent is backed up to some extent by an increase in allocation to the secretaries of transport and communication (of about P14 billion), education (about P20 billion) and social welfare and development (about P20 billion).

To manage these resources and implement the Plan well will require dedication and perseverance from all the president’s men. Let us hope that this rivalry within his cabinet produces the kind of healthy competition or constructive engagement required to produce positive outcomes. If it doesn’t, it could spell the end of the people’s faith in their brand of governance.

On Noynoy is repeating his mother's mistake

Torn and Frayed in Manila wrote an interesting piece, “Noynoy is repeating his mother’s mistake.”

A house divided against itself cannot stand
It’s early days and Noynoy, who has very little management experience to my knowledge, is presumably learning from these bruising battles. Let’s hope so because the country needs the son to be a better team leader than his mother was.

He has to be tougher than her, to squash the squabbling between his associates, and to be ruthless when needed. Unlike Cory, who, in the words of Joel Rocamora, “allowed her brother to sabotage the reform process by recruiting KBL and other unsavory trapo (traditional politician) types” into the ruling party, Noynoy has to end the perceptions of cronyism that the recent headlines about Puno have generated. If not, he will spend the next 6 years looking inward instead of focusing on the many problems and opportunities he was elected to address.

Three things:

1. It is almost universally accepted that Aquino is sincere in his promise— 70 percent trust rating and an electoral mandate better than Erap Estrada has it going for him.

2. There have been numerous quiet success stories in the past 100 days. PAGASA is just one of many. The organs of the government are working, where only a year ago during Ondoy, was one freaking mess. So things are moving along, sometimes too slow— but you have this sense that somethings are changing. So, so far, the nation is improving.

3. The IIRC report really is a sore thumb. It is obvious to anyone who reads it— that heavy charges needed to be filed against Alfredo Lim and other officers of the government. The IIRC report glaringly was mute with regard to Puno— yet there are reasonable questions that persist. As the President’s appointed representative to the hostage taking crisis, why didn’t he

a) advice the president to take it to the national level,

b) why didn’t he ensure that the President’s order was not carried out?

The sore thumb really isn’t that one thinks Lim or Puno are innocent. The sore thumb really is that they should have been charged and let the courts decide on the merit of the case. Let them defend themselves in court as they have the right to do so, and we the people— and the dead have a right to justice. Hence, the perception of a whitewash or favoritism because a) it took so long to come out with the report and b) there seem to be universal disgust with Puno’s government service.

It is the President’s prerogative to appoint his officers. The argument that he shouldn’t appoint his friends, is a gray area, at best. We appoint our friends and allies to positions of power because it is the natural human thing. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t the wisest course of action. That doesn’t mean that we glaringly turn our back on incompetence. That doesn’t mean that we do not look into the capability of the candidate if he or she is the right one for the job.

The President should either remove Puno from the DILG or bring him somewhere else— Presidential adviser on something because it is quite obvious he wasn’t up to the task.

Alfredo Lim ought to be charged properly in court for his role in the botched hostage taking. What’s certain too is that his brand of leadership is at an end. He ought to be given the right to defend himself in court.

The lackluster charges filed against Lim, and other officials of the government gives the people the license to doubt and be disappointed, which is such waste for a man of his many years in government service. Mister President, it is such a waste of political capital to be defending Lim and Puno, et.al., because this nation will need your political capital to fight the more important battles— fiscal situation, reproductive health, freedom of information, corruption and many more.

So far the nation is improving and given the state of the nation, those results do matter. Just the lives saved during Juan’s visit is an achievement worth remembering and worth building upon, but there is creeping doubt and disappointment is on the prowl.

(Photo by: Ryan Lim / Malacañang Photo Bureau) via gov.ph

Unpublished IIRC report scores trio: From Day 1, P-Noy wanted to save Lim, Puno, Verzosa

Unpublished IIRC report scores trio: From Day 1, P-Noy wanted to save Lim, Puno, Verzosa
By Malou Mangahas / Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – On the day he received the 82-page report of the incident investigation and review committee (IIRC) about the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident – and without even a full reading of its contents – President Aquino had blurted out: “Napatapang ‘ata masyado ah. Bakit kasama pa sila Puno, Lim, at Verzosa?” (It’s too strongly worded. Why are Puno, Lim and Verzosa implicated?)

This is according to some of those present at the IIRC’s meeting with Aquino last Sept. 17. The President was, of course, referring to Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Interior and Local Government Secretary Rico Puno, and then Philippine National Police chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa, who are among his closest personal and political allies.

The remark caught everyone by surprise. After all, even before he had finished reading the report, the President was already expressing his reservations about including the trio among the culpable parties. He told them he had no problem, however, about filing suit against the other police officers named in the report.

The three are also the most senior of the 10 officials that the IIRC said should face administrative and criminal sanctions for the death of eight foreign nationals after disgruntled Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held hostage a Hong-Thai Tour bus on Aug. 23.

This week, President Aquino announced that Verzosa and Puno would not be facing administrative charges, while Lim would no longer have to worry about criminal charges that the IIRC had recommended to be filed against him. The President approved only the filing of administrative charges for “misconduct and simple neglect” against Lim.

“I pledged from the very start that there would be accountability,” Aquino had said on Monday, when he finally announced his decision on the IIRC’s recommendations, after several postponements.

Saying he wanted to avoid “frivolous lawsuits,” Aquino had also told reporters: “The purpose of the review was to find the viable legal actions which can be taken against the concerned parties.”

Real reason?

But by the accounts of sources in Malacañang and in the IIRC circles, it is not clear whether or not that is the real reason behind the President’s decision to review and revise the IIRC’s recommendations.

In fact, the decision of the President and his lawyers to reverse the most critical findings of the IIRC against the three senior officials closest to him, out of friendship or politics or both, is now sending mixed signals to the public, as well as to his deputies in the Cabinet.

Palace and other sources also note that the President’s decision virtually stomped the one thing that the IIRC process guaranteed: the conduct of preliminary investigation to gather more evidence against Puno, Lim, and Verzosa.

In truth, the work of the IIRC is not even done yet. Days after the hostage-taking incident, Aquino directed the departments of Interior and Local Government and of Justice to conduct a “joint thorough investigation” in two phases.

The finished IIRC report corresponds only to the first phase – “a comprehensive account of the sequence of events leading to the killing of the hostages and the hostage-taker, evaluate police action and the response of offices and private entities to the incident, and recommend the filing of appropriate actions against those found culpable as intermediate actions to focus on the hostage-taking incident.”

The second and more complicated phase of its mandated work, and its corresponding report, may unfold in the next three to six months: “Review operational plans and procedures; conduct a detailed audit and inventory of the training and equipment of responsible agencies; review the Philippine National Police (PNP) standards and procedures in administrative cases involving police officers and personnel; and recommend comprehensive policies and programs as a final and complete report on institutional recommendations.”

For all that, some IIRC members had reportedly opted to work pro bono or without compensation, despite a government offer to give them allowances and honoraria.

Marathon hearings

The IIRC report was built on two weeks of marathon hearings, in open session and behind closed doors with over two dozen witnesses and resource persons, as well as parallel field work to gather documents and testimonies in the Philippines and Hong Kong by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Hong Kong police.

When the five-member IIRC led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima submitted its first report to Aquino in Malacañang last month, it was expecting swift action on its recommendations.

But then the President expressed reluctance to pursue criminal and administrative sanctions against Puno, Lim, and Verzosa, and the IIRC members found themselves in a long meeting.

The President skimmed through the first half of the report, snacks were brought in, and while the conferees ate, more discussions ensued. A videotape recording of Aquino’s recent visit with soldiers at a military camp played on, in the sidelines.

By some twisted happenstance, the IIRC report dwelt on the gunfight that killed Mendoza and seven Hong Kong nationals, while the VTR rolled in footage of Aquino in target practice, swift and smooth with guns, a la Rambo.

Reporters had been waiting for two hours by then to get a copy of the report. A Palace official, mindful of the scribes’ long wait, informed Aquino that the report must in time be released to the public.

But before doing so, the President wanted – or wished – two things: a review by Palace lawyers of the IIRC report, and if possible, that the names of Lim, Puno, and Verzosa be stricken off the report.

The first was tricky, but doable. The second was an impossible request, he was told. And there was the public, which was itching to know what the report contained.

Political line

The Palace thus crafted an instant political line; the communications team would “dribble” the situation, and tell the reporters a few things: Aquino was still reviewing the report, the Embassy of China will be furnished a copy, and the Palace will publish the complete report in time on the government’s website, www.ops.gov.ph. Quickly, the Palace uploaded the report pages – 1 to 60 to be exact.

Nearly a month later, it has kept secret the next 20-odd pages. Indeed, only the first 60 pages of the report had been uploaded on the online Official Gazette. This is even after the President’s review committee of two – Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa – had combed through the IIRC report and recommended the filing of administrative charges against only seven out of the 10 officials on the IIRC list.

Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domogoso was among those dropped from the list by the Palace committee. In addition, however, the Palace lawyers recommended the filing of charges of disobedience and conspiracy against SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, younger brother of hostage-taker Rolando.

Among other things, the review revised the IIRC recommendations thus:

• Lim, a long-time friend of the Aquino family who was also endorsed as a presidential candidate in 1998 by the late President Corazon Aquino, will now face administrative charges only for misconduct and simple neglect, before the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). These charges carry a maximum penalty of mere suspension, even as the IIRC had recommended the filing of both administrative and criminal charges against Lim, which could entail expulsion from office as penalty.

• Puno, a long-time shooting and gigs buddy of the President, was simply “admonished” in a private meeting with Aquino. Puno, said the President, did not commit any “impropriety” or violation of the law by assuming the work of undersecretary for peace and order, on the President’s directive.

• Verzosa, a long-time friend of Puno and who had sneaked into Aquino’s favor with his pledge to stand neutral days to the May 10, 2010 elections, had been absolved altogether by Aquino of any culpability. The hostage-taking incident was supposedly a local situation that did not require Verzosa’s participation.

To be fair, the President had explicitly stated that friendship had nothing to do with his decision to go easy on Puno and Verzosa. “All of us are people, none of us is perfect,” he had told reporters.

What report reveals

But a careful reading of the yet unpublished portion of the IIRC report – in particular pages 61 to 82 – show firm and carefully studied bases for the IIRC’s recommendations to pursue criminal and administrative proceedings against these three senior officials.

Thus far, the three-page “Recommendations” section of the report (pages 77 to 79) has been leaked to the media. The PCIJ had obtained a copy of the entire report at the same time but decided to await the review of the IIRC report by the President’s lawyers before releasing the unpublished pages that cover the following sections: Conclusions on Accountability, Recommendations, Highlights, and Epilogue.

Portions of the IIRC report follow:

Re Mayor Alfredo Lim

The IIRC report, in its “Highlights” section stated:

There is evidence to support the finding that what Mayor Lim actually ordered was the summary execution of Gregorio Mendoza when, in conjunction with the order to arrest Gregorio Mendoza, he also instructed the MPD officials present at the PCP that Gregorio be ‘brought to Tondo,’ a police euphemism for summary execution. This could also be the reason for the desperate run of Gregorio to the media outside the PCP while he was being taken out of the back door and his assertion that he was going to be killed.”

In the Conclusions on Accountability section, the IIRC report said:

“While Mayor Lim claims to have convened the CMC (Crisis Management Committee), there is no showing, however, that its members performed assigned tasks such as reporting to the crisis management operation center (CMOC) to assess and monitor the situation while the crisis was in progress; coordinate and provide support services; prepare and implement contingency measures (4.11, 2.6, Crisis Management Manual)…

“Mayor Lim failed to observe the appropriate degree of attention required by the gravity and highly-volatile nature of the crisis, involving the hostage-taking of 21 foreign

nationals, 3 Filipinos and one local Chinese by a fully-armed and distressed police officer, evincing gross failure to accord due importance to his role and responsibilities as head of the CMC in addressing the crisis.

“As head of the CMC, Mayor Lim’s conduct bespeaks of a weak, if not anemic, response to the hostage-taking crisis, unmindful of its gravity and the urgency of its resolution as every moment of delay in ending the crisis increases the risk to the safety of the hostages, mostly foreign nationals, and the damage to the image of the country before the international community.

“Mayor Lim directed the handcuffing, arrest and forcible taking of SP02 Gregorio Mendoza, the brother of the hostage-taker, at the crucial stage of the crisis, thereby

seriously jeopardizing the negotiation process and putting to grave risk the lives of the hostages. The arrest and forcible taking of SP02 Gregorio Mendoza proved to be the

final tipping point in the violent and tragic ending of the crisis… Mayor Lim enlisted SP02 Mendoza in the negotiation despite full knowledge of his sensitive relationship to the hostage-taker and possible adverse consequences of such a role in the negotiation process. Thus, if SP02 Gregorio Mendoza allegedly turned out to be uncooperative during the negotiation, Mayor Lim should have fully anticipated the consequences of his gamble.

“As such, Mayor Lim’s subsequent orders to handcuff, arrest and forcibly take SP02 Gregorio Mendoza to ‘Tondo’ was completely unjustified, improper, reckless and

contrary to established protocols in negotiations. At that time, Mayor Lim was fully aware that the situation in the bus was turning extremely volatile in light of Mendoza’s

outright rejection of the Ombudsman letter and his hostile action in firing his gun to express his frustrations with the negotiators, whom he accused of having fooled him.

“Despite the collapse of the negotiations highlighted by Mendoza’s outright rejection of the Ombudsman letter, Mayor Lim effectively hindered the immediate revival of the negotiation process by stalling the implementation of the alternative proposal for Mendoza’s provisional reinstatement pending resolution by the Ombudsman of his motion for reconsideration, thereby squandering the remaining opportunity to secure the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“When the ground commander (Magtibay) and the chief negotiator (Yebra) proposed to provisionally reinstate Mendoza pending resolution by the Ombudsman of his motion for reconsideration and save the situation from getting out of hand, Mayor Lim balked at the proposal and insisted that the matter be subjected to further study and discussion. The hard-line position against the proposal was unjustified as it failed to take into serious account the urgency of securing the safety of the hostages due to the increasing volatility of the situation as reflected by the hostile action of the hostage taker in firing his gun.

“At the most crucial moment of the hostage-taking crisis, Mayor Lim abandoned the command post (which also functioned as the crisis management operation center) and brought with him the ground commander to Emerald Restaurant, thereby effectively transferring the command center thereat, all in gross disregard of the increasing volatility of the situation and the vital need to maintain close contact, coordination and supervision at the ground level to ensure swift reaction in case of adverse turn of events and secure the safety of hostages.

“It was the height of irresponsibility for the Chairman of the CMC to abandon the command post and take along with him the ground commander to Emerald Restaurant on the lame justification that he was hungry and nothing was happening yet (“wala pang nangyayari”). At that time, the protracted 8-hour negotiation had already collapsed after the hostage-taker rejected the Ombudsman letter and resorted to a hostile action by firing his gun, indicating a highly-agitated mental state and obviously warranting close attention and immediate measures to prevent further deterioration of the situation.”

Re DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno

The IIRC report, in its “Conclusions on Accountability,” stated:

“Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno revealed that he was the caretaker of the national crisis management committee, and that the local crisis committee was headed by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, although Puno said that he did not receive any order activating the local CMC. During the entire course of the hostage incident, he admitted getting in touch with the local CMC three to four times only. Usec. Puno cannot and should not have acted as ‘caretaker’ of the national crisis committee because the rule provides for the following organizational structure to which his position as Undersecretary is not found…

“He told the Committee that the hostage incident was treated by the crisis committee, including him, as local and not national despite the fact that majority of the hostages were foreign nationals because: ‘The treatment was … it happened in Manila. That’s one. And also the hostage-taker was a former police officer assigned in Manila. That was the consideration.’

“He was allegedly very sure that negotiations will succeed, while at the same time acknowledging that he was not trained to handle hostage negotiation.

“It did not occur to him at any given time to consider the crisis within the dimension of the national crisis committee: ‘Our assessment was that he was a very cooperative hostage-taker, releasing eight or nine hostages.’

“In his judgment, they had to downplay the situation due to the apprehension that the hostage-taker might ask bigger demands if national officials are seen. Their assessment of the hostage-taker was that he was not a criminal, so they did not take contingency plans.

“Puno said the local crisis committee’s decision to transfer its operation at the Emerald Restaurant in Roxas Boulevard was Lim’s decision. While thereat, he advised the President, and assured him that there will be employment of special units, but when pressed to identify whose liability was the failure to employ the PNP-Special Action Force, he said it was the ground commander’s decision. During the executive session, Superintendent Medina clarified that the President personally ordered him to employ the Special Action Force unit under his command, but when he relayed the matter to General Magtibay at around 3 PM, Magtibay countermanded the President’s order and insisted on the use of the MPD-SWAT.

“As for the presence of media and how they affected the hostage situation, Puno said that bulletins were issued by the Public Information Officer, but did not name who was the PIO or in what form the bulletins were issued and how they were implemented.

“It is the conclusion of the Committee that the improper assumption by Usec. Puno of the functions of the Secretary of DILG as the chairman of the National Crisis Committee, in the light of his admitted lack of training and experience, may have compromised the readiness of the national CMC to take over the responsibility when it became apparent that the local CMC could not properly handle the hostage situation. That readiness could have been the immediate answer to the worsening situation.

“Puno’s failure to call upon the other members of the national CMC to be on standby reflects this lack of capacity. While he may have good intentions, rules must still be followed, and the organizational structure of the national CMC must be maintained.”

Re former PNP chief Jesus A. Verzosa:

“Upon being informed at 10:00 a.m. of the hostage incident, PNP Chief Verzosa called General Leocadio Santiago Jr. of the NCRPO who called the District Commander, General Magtibay, for the creation of the Crisis Management Task Group (CMTG), as the incident calls for application of local protocols. At the same time, he set up a command center at Camp Crame headed by the Director for Operations, General Benjamin Belarmino. He was monitoring the whole incident.

“Verzosa was clearly aware of the national significance of the hostage situation since he knew that foreign nationals were involved, so, by instinct or foreknowledge, he ordered the setting up of a command center. As a consequence of the command center’s activation, the next step expected was the dissemination of notices to the members of the NPOCCMC that a national level crisis arose. But culled from the narration of events both by Puno and Verzosa show that the subsequent call between them made them to agree Verzosa and Usec. Puno may have changed their decision to agree that it be localized.

“Nevertheless, localization of CMC structure still calls for the convening of the National CMC because the protocol provides that the ‘NPOCCMC shall monitor crisis incident situations in the lower levels and be prepared to make decisions on matters referred by such lower level CMC.’ “This being known to Verzosa, it was incumbent upon his command center to have so informed the other NPOCCMC members, but he chose not to.

“Before leaving for Cagayan de Oro City for an official function, he contacted Usec. Puno. His second in command, General Bacalso, went with him to Cagayan de Oro. These actions were made despite the activation of the command center in Camp Crame. As if to show that he was actively monitoring the incident, Verzosa said that he was monitoring the incident on TV in Cagayan de Oro. He then violated the protocol that monitoring shall be at the ‘National Crisis Management Operations Center

(NCMOC) at IRC,NHQ Building, Camp Crame.’

“He said decisions are left to the discretion of the ground commander, including failure of negotiation. The policy is to have no compromise with the hostage-taker. But this is contradictory to what Puno said before him that the plan was to give all the demands.

“These contradictory statements show that Verzosa and Puno either had no communication or misunderstood each other. Either way, their collective failure to pass essential information for an informed judgment affected the responses of the units under them.

“Verzosa revealed that target elimination was an option; and that Magtibay was knowledgeable of crisis situations. MPD was allegedly prepared but ‘variables’ affected the operation. The NCRPO gave guidance to Magtibay, and he, as Chief of the PNP, may take over when EXTREMELY necessary. He was alarmed when he saw Gregorio Mendoza being arrested, but he did not do anything so as not to bother the ‘busy’ ground commander. Curiously, his ‘alarm’ was not translated into an ‘extreme necessity’ to intervene, a serious flaw between his judgment and action based on such judgment.

“As if to extricate himself from protocols which he himself had helped set up, Verzosa insisted that protocols are continuing activities, and are always subject to change.

“Committee Chair De Lima sought Verzosa’s assessment of Magtibay’s decision to arrest Mendoza’s brother, SP02 Gregorio Mendoza, for allegedly conniving with the hostage-taker.

“‘I was alarmed by the sudden commotion and felt nervous something might happen [and] I still believe it was the most critical and tipping point,’ Verzosa said. He said he had thought of calling Magtibay to relay instructions on how to handle the situation, but decided not to. ‘If you were physically present, would you have done that? Immediately ordered Magtibay to desist from arresting the brother?’ Chair De Lima said.

“Verzosa replied: ‘I can [make] that decision. But it has already happened, and it might be hard to repair the observations of the public.’ Despite being alarmed, nervous, judging the situation as critical and a tipping point, and having thought of calling Magtibay, he was more concerned about ‘observations of the public’ rather than the lives at stake.

“Verzosa said the police failed to control the crowd during the hostage crisis. He said crowd control involved keeping away not only kibitzers but also the media, the police, and other personalities who should not be at the site of a hostage-taking. ‘There was a mix-up,’ Verzosa said. ‘The lapses happened because of the failure to [implement] crowd control. We saw some lapses … I think we failed to designate a media center, where media briefings should have been given.’

“Verzosa said Mendoza’s disposition suddenly changed when he saw the letter from the Office of the Ombudsman stating that it would review his dismissal from the PNP. ‘That was the tipping point. His character just changed from then on,’ Verzosa said.”

Lima v Lim

The de Lima report itemizes not only the failings of law enforcement during the hostage crisis of August 23rd. it is an indictment on the brand of law enforcement represented by the mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim and his cohorts.

De Lima is becoming an archetype for the kind of law enforcement official that adheres to procedure, a stickler for doing things by the book, in this case the manual for handling such crises. Mayor Lim on the other hand represents an opposing archetype that would rather dispense with the rule book in bringing about justice.

He represents the kind of justice you would expect from the wild, wild West. His archetype is the cowboy who makes his own rules as he goes along—a sort of nonchalant attitude that flaunts at procedure in order to get the job done.

These twin opposing tensions hold sway over our law enforcement culture. Mr Lim gained notoriety for the no-nonsense attitude he took towards criminals in his city. His nickname, “Dirty Harry” says it all. It represents an individualist persona establishing his stamp of authority in “no man’s land.” He stands for a code that is beyond the rule books. His way of operating is “my way or the highway.”

Leila de Lima on the other hand represents a culture within law enforcement that calls for nothing but rules of engagement to define the scope of our actions in dealing with conflict and criminal activity. Her adherence to the rulebook was evident during her stint as the CHR chair.

In that role, she had to contend with different branches of law enforcement that dispensed with the constitution in order to achieve their objectives. In our macho culture, it was quite ironic that it took a woman to stand up to this Leviathan state.

In this office she represented a kind of justice based on procedure that adhered to formal rules. This is a brand of law enforcement anathema to the dirty harries of the world. She earned her stripes as a no-nonsense enforcer of a different kind—an advocate for the proper discharging of duties and functions bound by a codification of principles acquired through corporate and social learning.

If Lim represents the philosophy of “getting things done no matter what the cost”, Lima represents an opposing view, that of “getting things done right regardless of the outcome.” Had Lim observed the proper protocol of convening the local crisis management committee and so forth, he would not be faulted for the outcome. It is because he chose to “go his own way” and handled the situation based on his own rulebook that he is now being included in the list of officials that are liable for the outcome.

Mr Lim was once favored by Cory Aquino to become the next president of the Philippines. Had he succeeded in winning that post, he might have turned the Philippines into a kind of paradise for cowboys. As for Ms de Lima, this feisty lady is demonstrating why the rules are important especially when human lives are at stake.

A study that I once read on regional profiles of management styles showed that the Philippines, compared to other societies in the region, was a country that was over-processed, but under-managed: meaning that our managers had great sophistication in terms of designing procedures for handling problems, but were less effective in terms of delivering outcomes.

In the past our judicial system has been faulted for adhering to form, but ignoring substance. For this reason, we have tended to gravitate towards leaders like Mayor Lim who promise to get things done regardless of the legal constraints they are faced with. With the events of August 23rd still ringing in our collective ears, we as a nation are beginning to realize the flaw in relying on such charismatic men; we are beginning to value the rules that bind their actions. It is these limits to power that guarantee us the best chances of survival in the jungle that we face out there.

Transcript of BSAIII speech before filing his certificate of candidacy

Transcript of the Speech of Senator Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III Before Filing His Certificate of Candidacy for President (November 28, 2009)

Transcript of Speech Before Filing of Certificate of Candidacy

Napansin ko po, hindi nababati ng maayos ang ating mga kasanggang matibay tulad ni Mayor Lim, na nandito po sa entablado.

Nandiyan po si Mayor Aro Mendoza ng Tarlac City!

Nandiyan po si Vice Governor Mark Leviste ng Batangas, matanda lang po ng konti sa akin yan.

Alam ho ninyo ang problema ko, ay mahaba-haba sana yung sasabihin ko sa inyo. Tapos sabi sa akin, paki bilisan ninyo one minute lang kayo at baka magsara yung Comelec.

Ito po ang listahan ng babatiin ko halos naging baliktaran sa papel, tsaka ko na po kayo babatiin kapag mas mahaba ang oras.

Simple lang po ang mensahe natin itong araw na ito: Diyan po sa Manila Cathedral, tatlong buwan pa lang po halos ang lumipas noong atin pong ina ay nandiyan at dadalhin na po sa huling hantungan. Marami pong problema na bumabalot sa aking kaisipan. Unang una na ho doon, wala na po ang ating pinuno, paano kaya natin maibabalik sa liwanag ang ating bansa? Kulang siguro sa tulog kaya’t hindi ko nakita kaagad yung mga sagot. Nakita po natin yung apat na sundalo nandoon sa taas ng truck. Sila ho ay hindi magkakasama sa isang unit at tsaka yung isa po ay miyembro ng kapulisan. Sila ho ay hindi nagtraining para sa trabahong iyon na sinabihan silang siyam na oras kayong hindi puwede kumilos. Pero yung Pilipino ho, tulad noong apat na iyon, bigyan lamang ng pagkakataon, maliwanag kung ano ang tama, gagawin ang tama – yun po ang solusyon natin.

Itong araw pong ito ihahain natin yung ating certificate of candidacy. Ito po siguro ang unang hakbang sa huling yugto ng ipinaglalaban natin. At ano nga ba ang pinaglalaban natin? Kapag tayo po, sa tulong ninyo, ay pinalad, yung pataba po, ang tataba halaman hindi na po yung mga tiwaling kawani ng gobyerno.

Magkakaroon din po ng sistema ng gobyerno na hindi nagpapahintulot o nakapapayag ng nangyaring karumaldumal na nangyari sa Maguindanao, hindi na po pupuwede iyan. Magkakaroon na tayo ng katiyakan na kaparusahan kapag may nilabag ka sa batas natin, iyan po ay itaga na natin sa bato.

Ipinaglalaban din po natin na lahat ng Pilipinong gustong matuto, may pagkakataon para matuto. Ang Pilipinong gustong magkaroon ng trabahong may dangal, magkakaroon ng trabahong may dangal.

Ang Pilipino pong may karamdaman, aarugain ng estado, obligasyon po iyan ng estado. Lahat po iyan, kaya nating makamtan, dahil ako po ay naniniwala sa bansa po natin. Sa singkuwentang porsyento na binubungkal na lupa, hindi ho tamang may nagugutom sa Pilipinas. Kailangan lang po gawin natin yung tama, babawasan natin ng babawasan ang nagugutom at talagang papunta na tayo sa kasaganaan, dahil gagawin po natin ang tama.

Malapit na po tayong senyasan. Baka sabihin sa atin ay malapit na ang lunch break sa Comelec.

Ang importante lang po sa akin na maiwan sa inyo sa araw na ito ay isang bagay:

Yung mga kalaban natin ang daming ipinagyayabang. Lahat na po sila ay ipinagsama-sama ko na. Pare-pareho silang gusto pa ring ipagpatuloy ang paglilinlang, yung pandaraya. Ang sagot ko lang sa kanila: Sige na pumutak na kayo ng pumutak. Sige na magtext brigade na kayo, mag-internet pa kayo. Sige na bilhin na ninyo ang lahat ng commercial na puwede ninyong bilhin.

Pero ang taong bayan, sa akin pong pananaw ay gising na, mulat na at sawa na sa inyo! Papasalamatan ko nalang ho kayong lahat.

Mga kapatid, talagang noong iniisip natin ito, ang dami kong problemang nakikita sabi ko, “Paano nga ba natin malalaktawan iyan?”

At yung sagot po pabalikbalik, simple lang pala, habang nandiyan ang taong bayan maski anong problema kaya nating laktawan. Ang tagumpay po buwan na lang ang pinag-uusapan, ke nandoon ako, ke wala ho ako dito, sigurado po ako itong ating krusada, magpapatuloy at magtatagumpay dahil lahat po kayo ay nandito.

Kaya’t magandang umaga pong muli at maraming salamat sa inyo!

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]