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Crisis Mismanagement

Crisis Mismanagement

Ronald Roy

After the smoke cleared over the Luneta carnage the other Monday, there was little doubt we would be thrown into an internecine state of frenzied blame-laying and finger-pointing. The disarray has reached a point where we must now decide for ourselves how we can regroup to salvage the national honor and recover fast from a jolted economy. For how long, nobody really knows.
One cannot but recoil at the “expert” remark of a Tourism or Foreign Affairs official that there was nothing to worry about since business relations between Hong Kong and mainland China on one hand, and our country on the other, would normalize in around “two and a half” months.
This optimism is as asinine as the notion of a pint-sized Gloria Arroyo being entered as a statuesque contestant in a beauty pageant, and uncalled for since it tends to downplay the hurt the Chinese claim we have heaped upon them. This official must learn that contrition cannot set a deadline for the grant of the forgiveness that a wrongdoer seeks.
At the same time, it is regretted that some of our Chinese friends have failed to isolate the wrongful acts of our officials as their own and not of the entire Filipino nation. It might help them to know we are among the most decent and amiable peoples in the world.
Racists we will never be. In fact, our long history as a people segregates us as among the favorite patsies of white-skinned colonists. Chinese women were once our household helpers whom we treated well like family. Although times have since changed, one thing we will never do: grovel on our bellies for their forgiveness, albeit the hand of peace will remain extended to them.
We will patiently await their change of heart, and they can start by taking a cue from their own Jackie Chan and many of our Chinese friends in Hong Kong, Manila and elsewhere.
But is it fair to expect their change of heart when we seem incapable of changing ourselves? Noynoy promised a six-year agenda for change in a campaign battle cry that catapulted him to the presidency. We remember how he electrified us at the Luneta with an inaugural speech oozing with vigor and vision. Yes, we recall how wildly we cheered an excitingly new leader.
But alas we instead saw a glassy-eyed and mute (sometimes snickering) television watcher, looking bemused as if worried Superman might not arrive on time to prevent a madman’s slaughter of 25 innocent foreign guests! Noynoy sat there just watching and doing nothing, not even so much as to abate the crisis with a sneeze! He looked convinced this was a job for Clark Kent, not him.
The President failed the acid test of his office when he did not seasonably perform his role as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Philippines empowered, whenever necessary, to call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence XX—as ordained under Article XII, Sec. 18 of his mother’s 1987 fundamental law. But he did not even have to flex the muscle guaranteed him under this provision as hereunder illustrated.
About two hours before the firing started, what I thought Noynoy should have done was to get the hostage-taking Capt. Rolando Mendoza on the line to tell him something like this: “Rolando, this is your President and Commander-in-Chief. I have vowed to do each man justice. Now that I know about your problem, please help me fulfill that vow. I promise to look into your case. Come, Rolly, lets talk. Together there is nothing you and I cannot solve for the sake of the country we both love.”
I am 101% positive the President’s appeal would have ended at least the crisis, if not Mendoza’s problem. I cannot of course submit this as a prescription for all future hostage dramas. However, the highly exceptional nature of our case—the lives of 25 foreign visitors being exposed to an armalite held by an amok—clearly called for a judgment call beyond the existing protocol.
This was the incident’s monumental unusualness which Aquino and his coterie of advisers inexplicably did not see for over 11 hours. Was there not here a rare case of crisis mismanagement ?!
Rallying to his defense, Ramon Carandang said: “The President wanted all the facts in before making a public statement. He also did not wish to open communication lines with Mendoza for fear he (Mendoza) might make more demands.” Maracas de Caracas…I rest my case!
By the way, incalculable human variables make it difficult to write a new protocol for hostage crises. Television media in this case for instance may be held accountable for having incited the hostage-taker. But what if Mendoza, on seeing on television his brother being “manhandled like a pig”, had instead ended the crisis by surrendering to the authorities to protect his brother from further harm? Shouldn’t media be cited for exemplary service? (arnydolor@yahoo.com; Tel # 7106701, Cel # 09186449517)

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