Category: aug 23

from luneta to china

In his first public response to the sanctions, Mr. Aquino said he had no plans to apologize, saying that doing so could create a legal liability and noting that China had not paid compensation to the families of Filipinos who have died in episodes there.

“legal liability…” googled it and, yes, it would seem that apologizing would / could mean admission of guilt, which could be used against the apologizer should the hostaged hongkong survivors and victims’ families take the ph government to court for redress.

hmm.  kaya pala ayaw mag-apologize ng presidente.  in a court of law, baka maobligang magbayad ng just compensation at maparusahan ang mga nagkasala.  but in the court of public opinion, lusot na lusot, especially now, given filipino disgust at china’s aggressive moves on philippine terrritory.  in comment threads on mainstream news and social media sites, parang mas maraming aprub kaysa di-aprub sa pagmamatigas ni aquino, kesyo, tama, wag magpa-bully sa hong kong/china, kesyo it’s a matter of national pride, apologizing would be a sign of weakness.

but, really, it doesn’t mean that we, who believe the president should apologize, are wrong.  what’s wrong is to think that the two occasions in beijing when filipino tourists were killed are comparable to the almost 10 hours hostaging and eventual killing of 8 and wounding of 7 hong kong tourists in luneta.  alex magno is right:

The first incident involved an accidental death caused by a wayward vehicle. The second incident involved the killing of two Filipinos by a seriously deranged man (subsequently executed for the crimes).

Neither involved acts of official neglect or incompetence. They cannot be compared to the official failings during the Luneta incident, which our own fact-finding committee established. That committee’s recommendation for charges to be filed against former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim and others have been blissfully ignored by Malacanang.

as far as the aquino admin is concerned, it has already done daw its utmost best to address the issue.  this was the official reaction of the DFA sec to news that govt officials will now have to obtain visas to travel to hong kong:

“The sanction is unfortunate because a substantive closure on the Quirino Grandstand incident has been arrived at three years ago with the previous Hong Kong SAR government and the victims as well as their families,” DFA spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in a statement he read to reporters.

Hernandez said that a renewed appeal for compassion was made to the government in October 2013 and it responded by offering “additional tokens of solidarity” that were pledged by Filipinos “at the behest of the Philippine government.”

“These amounts that are being offered are substantially more than those that have been previously accepted by the victims and their families. We have been made to understand that the victims and their families have agreed to this offer,” he said.

But Hernandez said the Hong Kong SAR government responded by opening a “total renegotiation’ to seek a demand for an apology over the deaths of its citizens. He said the Philippines, as a sovereign nation, “is not prepared to consider” this demand.

“Our nation has already expressed its deepest regret and condolences over the incident and we are preparing to reiterate this,” Hernandez said.

He said the government “remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people … as soon as possible.”

“We would like to assure the Filipino people that the Philippine government has done its utmost best to address the Quirino Grandstand issue,” Hernandez said.

what intrigues me is that i can’t find any source specifying exactly how much the hong kong victims are asking for and exactly how much the philippine government and/or its supporters have paid or offer to pay.  the only figure i get from googling is the 120M that erap was offering to raise, and i have no idea if that’s anywhere close to what is just compensation.

surely we can find the money for this.  if we can find the money to keep the patronage system alive by awarding senators and congressmen millions (billions?) in pork barrel funds and in generous salaries and allowances and bonuses every year, surely we can find the money to do right by the victims.  it is the honorable thing to do.

or is it that the bigger problem is that the prez cannot abide the idea of disgracing his incompetent subordinates because kabarkada, or political ally since cory times?  or basta, hindi lang sanay mag-sorry pag nagkamali?  o hindi lang sanay umamin pag nagkamali?

whatever, i can’t help wondering, what if the president had apologized right away?  would china be a little less offensive over in the west philippine sea?  maybe not.  china seems to be preparing to just take it over, “china sea” or bust, and seems to be testing limits all around.

interestingly, aquino’s hitler jibe could not have come at a better time, almost synchronous with america finally speaking out and criticizing china’s maritime claims, while talks on “temporary” facilities promise to continue, and u.s. warships arrive in manila and cebu ports, and who knows where else, soon after.

parang coordinated.  and i suppose it makes sense.  the hitler analogy may be flawed, but like peter beinart of the atlantic says,  it at least recognizes the magnitude of the stakes. 


the killing of the taiwanese fisherman by the philippine coast guard and the president’s refusal to apologize brings to mind the august 23 2010 luneta bloodbath that claimed the lives of 8 hong kong chinese.  the president also refused to apologize then.  a year later, the  survivors and the families of the 8 who died came to manila to commemorate the deaths of their loved ones with a buddhist ritual at the scene of the crimes, and again, still, the president refused to meet with them.  i blogged about it then, and reading it now, remember how offended i was for the hong kong chinese, and now that the president is adamant, all over again, in his refusal to personally formally apologize to the taiwanese, i can’t help wondering if this is a personality problem of sorts.  a hang-up that has to do with the killing of his dad in ’83?  maybe no one apologized to the family for that?  okay, maybe it’s a stretch.  maybe it’s just that the taiwanese demand for a formal apology is part of a package that includes paying compensation to the family of the victim and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  the very same demands made by the hong kong chinese, a formal apology, reparations not just to the families of the victims who died but also to the victims who survived but are scarred for life, and appropriate punishment of the government authorities whose gross negligence caused the bloodbath.  certainly, acceding to the taiwanese would mean finally acceding to the hong kong chinese, or else.

read teddy locsin’s What is to be done with Taiwan, alex magno’s Assymetrical, and a luneta survivor’s horrifying tale posted by raissa robles.

ashamed ! #aug23

WHY WHY WHY is president aquino snubbing the survivors and families of the victims of the august 23 hostage-taking massacre who are back in town, no matter how they fear and hate manila?  why has he denied them an audience with his excellent self as they commemorate the painful deaths of their loved ones exactly a year ago today?

WHAT WHAT WHAT is it about this president that he cannot find the time or the face or the grace to properly meet with these aggrieved hongkong chinese who deserve at the very least to be welcomed with shared sorrow and sympathy, at the very best to be heard, by cleaner ears, as they express their continuing, and very very valid, grievances re the botched hostage-taking?

the way i read lacierda’s explanation, it is because the bereaved chinese are accompanied by a democratic party legislator (james to kun-sun), therefore such a meeting would have “political color”, meaning i suppose that it would win points for the legislator but maybe not for the president who has a forthcoming state visit to the communist/socialist mainland?

Days before the first anniversary of the hostage tragedy, Lacierda expressed reservations over the group’s request to meet Aquino.

Lacierda said the request could have a “political color” since the group had been accompanied by a lawmaker with the elections in Hong Kong forthcoming.

But the victim’s brother stressed that they were never interested in politics.

“We are just normal citizens in Hong Kong. We do not know politics. What I can only see in this event is that my brother got killed without any reason. The rescue team in the Philippines could not save my brother. They could not save lives,” Tse Chi-hang said.

…Legislator To also urged the Chinese government to represent the group’s interest in the forthcoming state visit of President Aquino in Beijing.

“We want the Central People’s Government to take advantage of the meeting with the Philippine president in the coming several days to represent the interest of the families to negotiate for the settlement and apology for the Hong Kong families, Hong Kong people and Chinese citizens,” To said.

here’s more on the china visit by manila bulletin’s roy mabasa:

Aquino will be accompanied by senior foreign and defense officials, underscoring the importance the Philippine government has placed on the trip.

The visit was arranged as early as March amid the outrage in the country over Beijing’s execution of three Filipino drug convicts.

President Hu formally invited Aquino during last year’s Leaders’ Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Aquino himself confirmed earlier that an invitation from the Chinese government had been sent to him.

In an earlier interview, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao said Chinese officials were open to discussing with President Aquino the Spratlys issue during his visit.

“Everything can be talked about, but we can talk about issues in a very good faith and goodwill, in a spirit of seeking well-measured settlement of these issues. More than this we can work ways to maintain peace and stability in the region where we have disputes,” Liu told the Manila Bulletin.

“I’m sure we have the wisdom to keep peace and stability in this region and at the same time both of us could benefit from such a stable and peaceful region,” he added. “In particular, we can cooperate in this region in exploring and developing the resources. This is going to be a wonderful arrangement and at the same time we can reduce the possibility for a possible conflict. So, this is going to be a wonderful one.”

Liu also welcomed the visit, pointing out that this will further promote “the wonderful relations between the two countries in many realms: in political confidence and trust, economic cooperation, trade, and people to people exchanges.”

wonderful daw, lol.  of course we have no idea what the quid pro quos are, ‘no?  given our trade and investment needs, lalo na our spratlys claim, it may be that the prez is walking on eggs, scared of ruffling mainland feathers.  for all we know a formal apology to the chinese government and to the hongkong chinese may be in the offing finally, but in the mainland and addressed to the highest officials first?  better safe than sorry?

unfortunately the snub here and now, when we are confronted with memories of that awful awful day that filipinos would rather forget but cannot, so shameful and disgraceful and horrible was it, boggles minds and hearts.  according to what values and ethics is it all right for the aquino government to behave like it owes the bereaved hongkong chinese nothing: no formal apology, no compensation from the government, and no heads of top guns rolling?

it doesn’t help that history channel‘s docu The Manila Hostage Massacre had as its star resource person no less than mediaman erwin tulfo who had the gall to pontificate re the authorities’ shortcomings.  tulfo, with mike rogas, in my book, deserves worse than the 10,000 peso fine imposed by the KBP for his ill-timed ill-advised intervention in a police matter involving endangered lives, and with international repercussions.

here’s the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility:

The KBP Standards Authority December 2010 decision declared that:

“The Authority finds cause to hold the following respondents liable for first offenses (against) certain provisions of the Broadcast Code, as follows:

“On respondents Radio Mindanao Network (Radyo Mo Nationwide, RMN), Michael Rogas, and Erwin Tulfo, for having violated Sec. 1, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code (Coverage of crimes in progress), the following penalties are hereby imposed: The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure on respondent Radio Mindanao Network; the sum of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) and reprimand on respondent Michael Rogas; and the sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) and reprimand on respondent Erwin Tulfo, all in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.1, Part III of the Broadcast Code.

“We, however, find no cause to hold Jesus J. Maderazo of RMN liable under the Broadcast Code.

“On respondent ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, for having violated Sec. 4, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code (Schedule of Penalties for Grave Offenses) , the following penalties are hereby imposed The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure, in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.2, Part III of the Broadcast Code.

“On respondent Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5), for having violated Sec. 4, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code, the following penalties are hereby imposed: The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure, in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.2, Part III of the Broadcast Code.”

The penalties do not seem to be commensurate to the wrongdoing. Among its options, the KBP chose not to suspend Rogas and Tulfo for the major ethical offense of interviewing Mendoza during the most crucial stages of the crisis.

In the first place, however, the KBP decision, comparable to a mountain’s laboring to produce a mouse, had been almost a year in the making. In all that time, its Standards Authority simply decided not to include GMA Network Inc. (GMA-7) in its investigation because the network is not a KBP member.

lest president aquino and the kbp have forgotten: it was a shameful shameful shameful day and the survivors and families of the victims deserve an apology, compensation, and justice.

command responsibility
command responsibility 2
command responsibility 3
holding back
what if
brief narratives
ressa, media, flunk test
media & national interest
Truth and consequence
vilifying media
no laws broken, no heads rolling

no laws broken, no heads rolling

heard national anti-poverty commission chief joel rocamora in a bbc interview saying that no laws were broken by top officials in the august 23 bus hostages bloodbath.

eight hong kong chinese died needlessly violently in the hands of a mentally unstable discharged policeman yet no laws were broken?

nato reyes points out that in the end what (not who) gets blamed is the government’s crisis manual:

Malacanang has kept accountability for the August 23 incident at the lower levels of government. It has invoked the vague provisions of a government crisis manual as a convenient excuse for the shortcomings and incompetence of the national leadership. The section of the IIRC report on National or Local Crisis says:

It appeared that at no point was the elevation to the status as a national crisis considered even while practically all the hostages were foreign nationals and even while representatives from foreign embassies or consular offices were already involved.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on Crisis Situations does not have clear parameters on when, or under what circumstances, should a crisis be elevated to national status.

Aquino’s repeated reference to the vague provisions of the government manual has served as a firewall for the national leadership. Malacanang insists that since there are no guidelines which will allow them to assume command of a particular crisis, they cannot be blamed for anything. It’s like saying that it is the manual’s fault, not theirs.

as for command responsibility, here’s what malacanang’s review of the iirc report says under III. Applicable laws, rules and regulations, and jurisprudence:

2. A person may be held criminally liable only for his own actions or omissions. However, he may be held administratively or civilly liable for the consequences of the actions or omission of his subordinates or wards when the principle of command responsibility and the rules/laws on subsidiary, solidary and vicarious liability under the Revised Penal Code and the Civil Code are applicable.

3. In Rubrico v. Arroyo (G.R. No. 183871, February 18, 2010), the Supreme Court defines Command Responsibility as “the responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or other person subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict.” While there are several bills on command responsibility, there is still no law that provides for criminal liability under that doctrine.

there we go.   no law that provides for criminal liability for command irresponsibility.

so the president is not liable (even if he took responsibility for the fiasco some 10 days later) , nor usec puno, nor then pnp chief versoza.   if we took them to court, their lawyers would get them off easily.   waste of time and money, ika nga ni presidente.

yesterday the president also again explained why neither he nor his bff dilg usec puno showed up and took charge: the hostage-taker might have escalated his demands if faced with such high officials.   i wonder where they got that notion.    has it ever happened before?   meron bang precedent to justify such a fear?   i wonder who he was listening to, who was advising, what was influencing, him that long long afternoon and evening.   i wonder what they were all up to after the oathtaking of, among others, gina lopez and conrado de quiros’ brother…   to surface only deep in the night when the shooting was over.

also i don’t understand why tulfo and rogas got off scot-free, even if vergel santos of the center for media freedom and responsibility is actually happy about it.   i heard an unapologetic maderazo saying again that if they hadn’t done what they did, then we the public would not have known what was going on.   heh.   if they hadn’t done what they did, then mendoza wouldn’t have snapped they way he did and possibly nothing so bloody terrible would have gone down.

at the very least i hoped to see four heads rolling: puno’s, because he was incompetent and unqualified, versoza’s because he didn’t care enough to stay around and stay on top of things, and rogas’s and tulfo’s for agitating mendoza and driving him off the edge.   unfortunately the president loves puno and versoza, and coddles media, to a fault.


From Day 1, P-Noy wanted
to save Lim, Puno, Verzosa
by Malou Mangahas