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


  1. even without forensic psychology, rogas and tulfo are liable for imprudence…

    a “secret” kbp investigation was done in august. guess what…the kbp vice chairman is a canoy (whose family owns RMN). i won’t be surprised if both clowns are exonerated from violating the broadcast code.

    verzosa, they say, is already retired and administrative charges may not be filed anymore. grrr…

    puno and lim, what more can i say? double grrr…

  2. but i havent read/heard any direct argument against what de mesa and aquino argued — there is NO criminal case to be filed.

    totoo ba ito? i’m not a lawyer, so i dont know if this is true.

    has any lawyer written an opinion about this?

  3. manuelbuencamino

    The President asked for a second opinion. He was told that it would be better to pursue charges that have a good chance of sticking. He followed that advice and dropped those IIRC recommendations that his review committee deemed difficult to prosecute and prove.

    Lila de Lima said it was a difference of opinion, not a difference in policy.

    I share your opinion that Lim should be charged criminally, specially because he ordered his men to salvage the Mendoza brother. Kaya lang mahirap i-prove. Administrative charge would be easier and he could be suspended for six months. Hopefully he will realize that his way of thinking belongs in the last millenium.

    I agree with PNoy that Puno has no criminal liability or responsibility for the situation. His title is big but as he himself admitted he knew nothing of hostage situations. Puno can be described more accurately as a police liaison and nothing more. He should be commended for not taking charge of the situation considering his admitted shortcomings on the matter.

    As to Versoza, well you read the book – defense lawyers will argue it was not national while prosecutors wil argue it was. I think it would be the long drawn-out criminal case that PNoy wanted to avoid. If the case will be resolved years down the road, who will still remember it? As to administrative charges well he’s retiring so what punishments and sanctions are left?

    Tulfo and Rogas should have been charged. They behaved like assholes and that is a capital offense. Of course their lawyers will argue that they can’t help it, it’s what they are. In which case RMN’s franchised should be revoked for paying assholes to go on the air.

  4. One thing’s certain…I smell a cover-up.

    The following was not mentioned in the Ochoa-de Mesa report [“The Review of the Review” (TROTR)]:

    After he almost finished reading the Ombudsman’s letter, the angry Rolando Mendoza said this to Orlando Yebra:

    [“MENDOZA: Ito, sasampulan ko to sir, tabi, magsialis kayo… di ko kailangan yan sir, walang sinasabi yan …ikaw abogado ka… walang nilalaman yan”]

    [TRANSLATION: “MENDOZA (addressing Yebra): This one, I’ll make an example of this one, step aside, go away…I don’t need that (letter), sir, that letter has nothing to say…you, you’re a lawyer…there’s nothing in that (letter)!”]

    Mendoza, pissed off, asked the negotiators to leave and then fired a “warning” shot (Romeo Salvador even thought it was directed to him.). Clearly, the hostage taker was now hostile and the hope of a peaceful resolution of the conflict was already diminished. Clearly, the negotiation stopped.

    What did the officials think and do as their next course of action? Yebra said his last offer of “provisional reinstatement” for Mendoza was still on. Lim said it was a “waiting game.”

    But what really transpired in the “kitchen” meeting of the higher-ups including Yebra? I ask this because at “quarter to 7” (as announced by Michael Rogas) Mendoza already saw SWAT teams deploying. That was also the time (or thereabouts) when Lim and Magtibay left for Emerald.

    Isko Moreno also recounted: “By that time Mayor Lim has already left the PCP for Emerald Restaurant. Isko Moreno saw Special Forces with sniper rifles come out behind Manila Hotel and decided to leave believing the crisis has now become a police matter.” He was down-trodden during that time.

    There are two things authorities can do: (a) Negotiate, or (b) Assault. Considering that the negotiation bogged down, were they already gearing up for an assault even before Rolando started his killing spree?

    With the situation going out of hand, what was really the plan of Lim and Magtibay? “Waiting game” when all the while the negotiation was off and the danger to the hostages was already imminent??? Did they just concentrate their discussion on Gregorio Mendoza’s fate?

    The TROTR didn’t tackle the issue but the issue on Gregorio Mendoza was highlighted in it. The latter is a ruse…a diversionary tactic to lead everyone astray.

    [“Magtibay recalled Lim saying that Gregorio be ‘brought instead to Tondo,’ the police force’s euphemism for summary execution.”
    – IIRC report

    N.B., I’ve already stated the case of Rogas-and-Tulfo tandem as also a possible direct cause of the disaster in previous blog posts.

  5. More quick copy-pastes from TROTR made by Ochoa and de Mesa:

    [“It should be noted that Yebra is not even an official, but merely an ad hoc negotiator of the PNP. Being a negotiator is not his primary function, but only an additional function given to him occasionally.”]

    So, what was their real plan to safeguard the lives of the hostages when they fielded a guy not suited for the job?

    [“Yebra may be faulted for failing to appropriately alert his superiors to be ready to take the necessary action when it appeared that Mendoza had already become more agitated and violent after reading the letter from the Ombudsman considering that Mendoza was shouting and even fired a warning shot.”]

    Did Lim or Magtibay ever wonder why there was already a shot fired?

    [“Reckless Imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform an act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons time and place (Article 365, Revised Penal Code).”]

    Reckless imprudence for Rogas and Tulfo would certainly be a test case. However, “the charges might ‘not hold water in court,’ De Mesa said in a press briefing in the Palace.”

    Apparently, de Mesa doesn’t believe in forensic psychology and/or psychological autopsy that can be made from the RMN interview audio recordings and correlated with video footage the top TV networks voluntarily aired. Experts must be employed to do this and will very much help in the prosecution of the case. “The things speak for themselves,” pun intended.

  6. UP nn grad

    Some folks who do not know how to speak Tagalog have expressed their opinion.

    MANILA, Philippines—Hong Kong on Tuesday said it was disappointed at the Philippines’ decision to spare from harsh punishment those officials involved in a Manila bus hijacking fiasco that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.
    “The people of Hong Kong, especially the survivors and the victims’ families, will find this hard to accept,” said a government spokesperson in the Chinese territory, according to news agency reports. “The Hong Kong … government is also disappointed. We ask that the Philippine government follow through the required actions,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

    “The eventual actions to be taken against the persons involved must live up to their pledge to be accountable to the public. That is also what is owed to the dead and the injured. We will convey our views to the Philippine government through proper channels.”

    In a terse text message to the Inquirer, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ethan Sun Yi said, “The Chinese side looks forward to effective measures to be taken by the Philippine side to address the related issues concerning the incident in an earnest and appropriate manner.”

    “It is very unfortunate that they find it unacceptable or they’re disappointed by it. It saddens us that that is their reaction.” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa told ANC. “But we just did what we believe was the right thing to do and recommended only charges…” which, through some stroke of luck, happen to allow continued demonstration of President Benigno Simeon “noynoy” Aquino’s kabaitan and loyalty to his shooting buddies and personal friends and classmates.

  7. manuelbuencamino


    We are a sovereign nation. I am glad our leader did not allow the Chinese government or the Hongkong principality to dictate to us.

    And read the recommendations and the President’s explanation for the decision he made, it might bring some light inside that hole where your head is.

  8. The remedies are not always through the justice system. As Harry Roque has pointed out, the matter is within presidential discretion and is a “political question.” Of course, nothing prevents Pres. Aquino from firing Robredo, Puno, or Versoza.  But would that be in the best public interest?

  9. manuelbuencamino


    I agree these two points should be in the manual. Also I hope the manual will outline how experts should handle the situation expertly. Finally, if your name is Tulfo or Rogas then you are banned forever from any kind of coverage

  10. UP nn grad

    A government employee (surname is not Puno) decided to do a “Noynoy” by getting a second opinion, and boy, is “Noynoy” really mad. The folks who gave the second opinion have (maybe temporarily, maybe for a few more months) given a A SLAM-SHUT-UP to Malacanang, and “Noynoy” (who won with 47% of the votes) is very mad.

    MANILA, Philippines — Stung by the Supreme Court order stopping his removal of a “midnight appointee” of his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III Thursday accused the tribunal of blocking his program of reform.

    Mr. Aquino used strong words in assailing the high court for granting the petition of Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which sought a stop to the implementation of his Executive Order No. 2 rescinding the last-minute appointments of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

  11. manuelbuencamino


    I’m not surprised that you would try to put a tuko on even footing with Pres. Aquino. You have always been a loyal subject of Gloria. Anyway, the comparison is silly and so are you.

  12. “The folks who gave the second opinion have (maybe temporarily, maybe for a few more months) given a A SLAM-SHUT-UP to Malacanang, and “Noynoy” (who won with 47% of the votes) is very mad.”-UP n

    UP n,

    You have to understand that most folks in the know has this (foolish?) thoughts that those folks who gave the second opinion to that government employee whose name is not Puno is programmed by the previous government to SLAM-SHUT-UP Malacanang on all matters that will benefit their previous benefactors and on all matters that will make the new government fail.

  13. Sunnyside

    To Mbuencamino & bert:-)) I agree with your opinion even though the over-all review tried to pour water on more speculation and white-wash attempts. however, I,too, was disappointed on the kids globe decision to ignore the media’s role as the defining factor that overturn critically the negotiation, justifying it as an exercise on the freedom of speech and information.

  14. UP nn grad

    You folks do understand, do you, that the annual migration of Muslims to Jeddah has been seriously impacted by the “Noynoy” heavyhandedness in trying to nullify the appointment of the One-whose-last-name-is-not-Puno. The one-whose-last-name-is-not-Puno is correct in trying to protect what she believes is her rightful appointment to her current post.

  15. UP nn grad

    Noynoy has really to begin to think like the big boys.

    Someone has to pay — Puno is an excellent sacrifice. Background
    information — has this dude really has not done anything yet for
    the good of the country? For Noynoy, yet, but for Pilipinas?

    “He tried hard, sir, to be eyes-and-ears of Persidente!” does
    not really cut it, does it?

    Throwing one’s brother under the bus for the good of the country
    is commendable. Throwing one’s sister under the bus for the good
    of the country is commendable. Throwing Puno under the bus?

    Give Puno a rousing send-off party. Give a medal of High Achievement.
    Give him a complimentary Mercedes Benz and a P100,000-a-year stipend
    for the next ten years. Kick the guy upstairs, but throw him
    under the bus and get him out of that post.

    So, Manuel Buencamino — tell me one thing that Puno has accomplished
    that can argue against sacrificing him on the Altar of Pogi Points?

  16. UP nn grad

    to bert: If the Medal of High Achievement is tasteless and inappropriate, I have an alternative. As personal touch from Persidente, Puno to get a 40-cal Jericho pistol from Israel with matching a Don Hume IWB (inside-the-waistband) holster. And a 1-1/2 ounce 22-carat gold BFF medal!!!! IWB holster, Jericho and BFF medal — that should work.

  17. UP nn grad

    to ManuelBuencamino: Wouldn’t you agree that the benefit to Pilipinas for Persidente Noynoy to throw Puno under the bus outweighs the costs (of giving Puno a P100,000-a-year-for-10 years stipend and a BFF gold medal)?

    As Abe Margallo would say — “…for the greater good” makes sense (GMA, Senator Trillanes and BongBong Marcos would add “… as long as the action is compliant with the Constitution”.)

  18. manuelbuencamino


    The president explained why he wants Puno around. What did you not understand? Why should I equate your opinion with what’s good for the Philippines? If I recall correctly, you think that Gloria was, is, and will always be good for the Philippines.

  19. UP nn grad

    That’s a good question, GabbyD.

    It goes like this. In kindergarten, even when a student can’t control his bladder, it is okay, the world can wait to give the little incontinent time to become more skilled. In college, the student who is in the 40%-to-55%-percentile also graduates along with those who are in the 85%-to-92%-percentile.

    And then, there is the big-league-tier of the Big League. Bringing coffee every day is not good enough, here you really have to accomplish heavy-duty accomplishments AND you can not bring embarrassment, or worse. In the big-league-tier, the incompetent when they are outed get thrown under the bus. I thought this was what Per-sidente “Noynoy” Aquino was alluding to when Priscilo Nilo was kicked out of PAGASA chief-post and returned to the (career executive service officer) pool. Nilo, of course, did not get a BFF medal.

    But that is me, talking. Now, if Puno is special to you, then all bets are off and it becomes understandable being as supportive of Puno as Manuel Buencamino is supportive of Puno.

  20. UP nn grad

    There is another instance that it is OKAY to hang onto an incompetent who has brought embarassment to the Corporation. This is when the family owns the Corporation, and the incompetent is a KAMAG-ANAK or a BFF.

  21. @UP

    why is Puno the same as Nilo’s case? Nilo is the head of PAGASA, tasked to predict the weather.

    what is Puno’s relationship to the cops? is he in command of the operation of the hostage crisis? cmon UP, lets get straight to the point — what was Puno supposed to have done that he didnt do? and why is this a fireable offense?

  22. UP nn grad

    GabbyD: Where were you and did you read the IIRC (first many pages only) reports that were leaked during last week of September 2010? If you did not get any sense that Puno failed to get done what Pers-i-dente “Noynoy” asked him to get done and the failure brought serious embarassment to The Corporation called Pilipinas, I can not help you.

  23. yes, he has been cited for not telling/ensuring that the PNP use the SAF team.

    but what i understand, sinabihan sila ni Pnoy na gamitin ang SAF team. right?

    further, in a news article i read, the official palace response is :”Palace lawyers believe that Puno had no legal obligation to ensure that the President’s orders were followed since he was not the immediate superior of Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, who was then Manila Police District director and ground commander of all security forces during the crisis.”

    it boils down to: is it puno’s job to make sure the SAF team is utilized? why?

    if it was his job to see its utilized, is it his job to TELL the PNP to use it, leaving it to PNP to do it or not? if YES, then perhaps he did his job, told the PNP, and that was that…?

    my point is: this is very confusing, and i still havent wrapped my head around which argument is more convincing.

    i was hoping u could tell us why YOUR argument is more convincing (vs the palace lawyer’s argument)

  24. Here’s a point to ponder upon: It’s Pres. Noynoy’s decision to divide the DILG, local gov’t. to Robredo, the police to Puno, Puno accepted the job, the police under his responsibility, he’s responsible for any of its action, successful or failed, admitting after the hostage fiasco that he knows nothing about hostage crisis, but accepted the job anyway.

  25. UP nn grad

    The palace lawyers provided legal cover to enable Noynoy to be protective of his BFF, PLUS the palace lawyers stopped dead-cold any further inquiry regarding the IIRC recommendations. Noynoy should not throw his lawyers under the bus — they delivered on what Noynoy asked them to do.

  26. manuelbuencamino

    UPnn and Bert,

    I think many are under the impression that PNoy placed the PNP under the supervision of Puno. That is not the case because, first and foremost, the police are under Napolcom which the DILG secretary chairs.

    Now, Puno as usec for peace and order acts as PNoy’s liaison to the police. He is the direct feedback mechanism between PNoy and the cops. There was a similar arrangement between in the previous DILG where Ronnie Puno had his trusted aide Danilo Valero as asec for peace and order. The difference is in the title and the reporting. PNoy is hands on when it comes to police and military matters so he designated Puno to report directly to him on internal police matters. The arrangement is fine with Robredo who is an expert on LGUs and would rather focus more attention on those. Gloria was not that hands on when it came to police and military matters, she left it to her subordinates. Ronnie Puno like Robredo was an LGU expert and so he asked Valero to keep an eye and an open line with the cops and bring to him only those things that merited his special attention.

    Finally, UPnn, I am not standing up for Ochoa. I am standing up for the president’s prerogative, something that Gloria and her people never tired of reminding the public.

    I am also aware of the strategy to paint PNoy as not in charge, incompetent, and at the mercy of friends and relatives. Your line of attack comes from the same talking points of Edcel Lagman, Joker Arroyo, and the rest of the Gloria gang. You strike at PNoy’s weakest appointments and ignore the strong ones like de Lima, Singson, Henares, Lim, Almendras and a whole host of others.

    Sure all is fair in politics and to hit the enemy where he is most vulnerable is part of the game, have you ever seen a pack of hyenas feast on the strong?

  27. UP nn grad

    No laws broken, no heads rolling….

    Amando Doronila Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 02:51:00 10/18/2010
    THE LATEST Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted on Sept. 24-27, showed more respondents (41 percent) were dissatisfied with the performance of the Aquino administration in resolving the Aug. 23 hostage crisis, than those who were satisfied (36 percent).

    The survey was the first confirmation of the erosion of public satisfaction over President Benigno Aquino III’s competence in handling his first politically damaging crisis since taking office three months ago. It came at the end of his first hundred days.

    The failed action to free all 22 Hong Kong tourists, who had been held hostage by a dismissed Filipino policeman came under heavy criticism from the Hong Kong government and the Philippine media. The bungled rescue abruptly ended the traditional honeymoon period of a newly elected administration.

    The September survey was conducted before Mr. Aquino slapped light administrative penalties on all of the officials involved in the rescue debacle and spared them from criminal prosecution. The President’s decision, which virtually whitewashed most of the officials investigated by the De Lima committee, was heavily criticized in the press.

  28. manuelbuencamino


    Valero and Ronnie Puno are good friends. Neither would dream of doing that to the other. Besides what did Valero do to deserve a death sentence from you?

    I’m good friends with both of them. Even if our politics differ we always manage to enjoy each other’s company.

    I must admit I’m turning senile. It’s probable because of interacting with know it all ignoramuses.

  29. manuelbuencamino


    But Doronilla is beyond senile.

    I felt sorry for him some years ago when the CA interviewed him for Ambassador to some European country. He was a GMA supporter then. But after the CA rejected his appointment because he was unprepared and seemed unable to focus, and the Palace did not fight for him, he suddenly turned bitter critic of GMA.

    Could history be repeating itself?

  30. UP nn grad

    I do not know if Puno gave Valero a 22-carat BFF gold medal. Nonetheless, I think you (ManuelB)answered my question. Google-search suggests there was no failure by your BFF Valero that caused death and brought shame to Pilipinas — it makes sense that there was no clamor to throw him under the bus.

  31. UP nn grad

    Here is a thought for you, ManuelB. Ask your BFF Puno this question.
    Does Puno believe in protecting a BFF under any and all circumstances, or would there be a Valero-failure when Puno would have thrown his BFF under the bus (maybe re-assigned as Puno’s special-projects-lead on controlling cyanide and dynamite fishing in Sibuguey Bay, or retirement even (with a P100K-a-year-for-ten-years stipend))?

  32. UP nn grad

    Three of the possibilities :

    (1) Noynoy administration is mas mabait than GMA-administration to disastrous-performing BFF’s.

    (2) Noynoy administration is mas walang-pasensiya to disastrous-performing BFF’s.

    (3) Pareho lang.


    Those still believing Gordon-was-the-best-candidate or those still wishing-that-Erap-won, and maybe 2 dozen who voted for Noynoy may ponder the Ochoa/Noynoy stonewall of further pursuit of IIRC recommendations — is this demonstration that the Noynoy Administration, like the GMA administration, reserve the privilege to use executive prerogative to hinder continued investigation of BFF’s?

    Abangan ang susunod na kabanata kung may darating pang additional chapters.