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August 25, 2010

The Crucible of P-noy: Major Major

It was President Noynoy's first test and I had to say, he failed miserably. The Manila Hostage which rocked not just the entire country but the entire world who witnessed it brought so much shame to all Filipinos. While it was an isolated case and hostage-taking in reality is not rampant in the country, it still tarnished our image in the international community. Filipinos after all are famous for being overly (if not major major) hospitable to tourists especially from foreign countries. That is why many foreigners would come to the Philippines because of our warmth and hospitable nature. But the Manila Hostage Taking definitely created a different image of Filipinos. For one, the world has now discovered that Filipinos don't know how to smash a bus door with a sledge hammer. But it is more than just the poor tactical operations and the lack of resources and the unchecked media that brought down the Filipino image to one of its lowest so far. The big question was, "Where was P-noy while all of these were happening?"

According to the news, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang tried to contact the Philippine President during the peak of the standoff at Quirino Grandstand. Of course, being the leader of the HK residents, Mr. Tsang felt the need to plead perhaps with President Noynoy to intervene if not oversee the handling of the situation. This was no longer an internal issue. This has become an international issue because it involved non-Filipino individuals. Of course, Mr. Tsang would do anything for his people and the most that he could do was contact the Philippine leader who is after all the Commander-in-Chief. What Mr. Tsang did was no different to what our past Presidents would do whenever a Filipino is sentenced to death in one of the middle eastern countries. And whenever the Filipino president calls on the King of Saudi Arabia for example, His Majesty would always take time to receive the President and do within his royal capacity to intervene for the sake of both countries.

But where was our P-noy when Mr. Tsang was trying to contact him?
"(Edwin)Lacierda (Presidential spokesperson) said Aquino failed to take Tsang's call since the president was in a closed-door meeting with Department of Interior and Local Government officials then" (

Now, first question: Who was this stupid assistant holding on the President's phone while the Chief Executive of Hong Kong was calling? Shouldn't he/she enter the closed door meeting, excuse himself/herself and whisper to the President's ear that Mr. Donald Tsang was on the other end of the line wanting to talk to him? It was like the President of an equally sovereign state trying to call our own President and was put on hold because the President was in a closed door meeting, in a meeting whose concern is that of the caller as well.

P-noy should fire that person's ass right there and then. There has to be a standing rule. Whenever a head of state, especially a friendly, calls the Philippine President, the head of state carries with him or her the entire country which he or she represents. It was like the entire Hong Kong calling to the entire Philippines as represented by their leaders.

Not accepting that call was P-noy's "major major" mistake. It showed lack of decorum when it comes to international diplomacy.

Where was P-noy our Commander-in-Chief when all of this was happening? Perhaps we wouldn't require his presence if it is a mere internal affair. The situation demanded action from our national leaders if not to resolve, at least to show that they are in control, to show to the world that "we are at the helm of things, we know what's going on, we are in contact with our ground commanders, and we are doing our best within the means permitted to us by law to find a peaceful resolution to the problem."

The President may not fully intervene with the strategic planning of the assault team but couldn't he have suggested to the PNP to coordinate and "control" media and the crowd considering that what was happening was being shown "live" on TV, being broadcasted not only to the world but worse, to the hostage-taker himself? He could have called up the ground officers and "suggested" about it or "inquired" how they were handling media. Media's indiscriminate telecast of that incident added more fuel to the fire in a sense and no matter how media would try to rationalize what they did, they too should start saying the "mea culpa".

Where was P-noy?

Yes, Noynoy could win an election. But can he run a country? So far, for the first test in his "Presidential" career, he has failed.

And now, the former critics are at the other end of the line. Gloria Arroyo, whose effigy used to be a consistent character in street rallies burning incessantly, maybe saying "So you thought it was that easy." Gloria may have been corrupt, but so far, she has surpassed crises far worse than this, always staying on top of every situation, from the Manila Peninsula seige to the various coup attempts. There have been a few hostage takings as well in the past but so far none were as tragic as this one.

And the criticisms are getting louder and louder. In P-noy's Facebook page alone, the "freedom of speech" has been reigning supreme and all P-noy could do was "censor" his FB page.

"Another comment from Jay Rodrigo apologised on behalf of Filipinos, but had strong words about his feelings towards Aquino, who won the presidency by a landslide in May but whose popularity now appears to be taking a direct hit from the tragedy.

"You see, our president is a retard who has done nothing but smirk in front of the TV cameras after all that has happened," he wrote on the page.

"He's slowly killing our country coz of his stupidity."

Both messages appeared to have been scratched from Aquino's Facebook shortly after he issued his warning on Wednesday afternoon that he would censor the site." (

P-noy started his administration blaming his predecessor for the mess he inherited. Now, P-noy is at the very end of the blame game. Welcome to the Philippine Presidency, Noynoy.

In fairness, the government of P-noy opted to leave it to the "experts" to handle the situation. These experts were after all trained in foreign countries.

Well, so much for experts....

Now, what is left for P-noy and his cabinet members to do is to do some "damage control" after the major major damage has been done. Of course, what else is left? Eight lives were lost and all of these lives were lives of our guests. In the old days, the killing of a guest by the host or a friend of the host is always unforgivable and unpleasing to the gods. Mt. Olympus must be rumbling with fury over this incident.

And what's with the smirking, Mr. President? Again, such a decorum shows a lack of sensitivity to the situation. No matter how one rationalizes it, Noynoy must stop acting like Noynoy the Senator but must begin to behave as Noynoy the President. He must be made aware that now as President, the entire world looks upon his every move, every flicker of his eyelash, every swagger and every smirk. It was truly inappropriate, no matter how he would defend himself or explain such a trivial behavior.

Again, welcome to the Philippine Presidency, Noynoy. It is the loneliest job in the world. And while in your campaign you made it look so easy, now day by day you will realize that it is not. And again, the Filipino nation, whose hopes have been raised by such high expectations, will once again find themselves short-changed.

Nevertheless, what's done is done. We could not longer resurrect the past. The Philippines shares the grief of the people of Hong Kong. It is hopeful to read tweets from Jackie Chan, a Hong Kong Resident, about his plea to his fellow Chinese not to pour their anger on all Filipinos. It is hopeful to read statements from Chinese envoys saying that the relationship of China and the Philippines remain strong.

For now, we Filipinos bow down our heads in shame and for those who voted for P-noy, some second thoughts and maybe even regrets might start creeping in.

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