The Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) submitted its report to Pnoy this 17th. It was announced that the report must first be submitted to the Chinese government before it could be released to the Filipino public. It was not clear if the poor Filipinos would have to wait for Pnoy to come back from the US and the top-level Philippine delegation will go to China to hand over the IIRC report.
Fortunately, opposition politicians criticized the administration for kowtowing to the Chinese and disregarding the Filipino people. And so, Pnoy’s people finally released the IIRC through the Internet. But ooops, the report released was incomplete. The last third of the report was missing. Reportedly, the missing parts contained the recommendations of the committee, including the filing of administrative and criminal charges against certain people.
This early in his adtministration, one can see that transparency would not be characteristic of this regime.
The report recommended that charges be filed against the following:
Recently Retired Police Chief (General) Jesus Verzosa,
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim,
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno,
DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno,
Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez,
National Capital Police Director (General) Leocadio Santiago,
Manila Police District chief (General) Rodolfo Magtibay,
Police Superintendent (Col.) Orlando Yebra Jr,
Chief Inspector(Major) Santiago Pascual, head of the Special and Tactics (SWAT) team,
Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III,
TV 5′s Erwin Tulfo,
Radyo Mindanao Network anchor Mike Rogas,
3 Broadcast Networks – ABS-CBN, TV5, GMA
REPORT TO BE REVIEWED BY EXEC SEC
Pnoy announced that the Report will be reviewed by his Exec Sec and Legal Counsel. Funny. Isn’t the head of IIRC no other than the Secretary of Justice herself? Isn’t the Justice Secretary the Chief Legal Officer of the President? And isn’t a governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a member of IIRC?
Is Pnoy saying that his Executive Secretary, who came from the staff of Quezon City mayor Belmonte, and his legal counsel better lawyers that Justice Secretary De lima, who was former Human Rights Commissioner and Atty. Roan Libarios, an IBP governor?
Why create an Investigative Panel if its recommendations are not going to be followed?
THE MAYOR’S WRATH
The IIRC, as expected, included Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, as one of those to be held liable. Naturally, the Mayor was furious. In his press conference, the Mayor was fuming mad, with tears in his eyes. He portrayed himself, his vice mayor and the police force as the victims. He is championing the cause of the police.
This early in his administration, Pnoy cannot afford to be enemies with the Manila Mayor and the Police force.
OMBUDSMAN’S CONVOLUTED PROTESTATIONS
The Office of the Ombudman’s spokesman also held a press con. In his convoluted reasoning, he says that the IIRC is making a hero out of a policeman-criminal.
He said that the Ombudsman was asked to lie to Mendoza and tell him that the case would be dismissed and then tell him later, after he had surrendered, that it was not the case.
He said, in a very ‘holier-than-than-thou’ posture, that “the Ombudsman never compromises” (in Tagalog).
Naturally, media people are saying they had not violated any laws whatsoever. They could have violated journalistic ethics, but nothing criminal.
Many of Pnoy’s supporters blame the media. Many of them blame the media because, they say, without the media, the rest of the world would not know about the incident. How would that be possible, I have no idea. The Police and Mayor Lim also blame the media, for the same reason.
Again, it would be ironic if Pnoy would want to curtail press freedom. His father, who was a journalist, was a staunch fighter for freedom, including press freedom. And his mother was catapulted to the Presidency by the freedom-loving Filipinos, including freedom-loving media people. And of course, the people who voted for Pnoy did it because he is the son of his parents.
P-NOY’S OFFICIAL FAMILY
Cabinet Secretaries are usually considered part of a President’s “official family”. They are presumed to be the president’s prime advisers on their respective fields. The hostage debacle has revealed that the official family is not that close-knit. The DILG Secretary has been revealed to have partial powers. Although he is Secretary for Interior and Local Government, he has no control over Interior (the Police). The de facto Interior Secretary is Undersecretary Rico Puno, Pnoy’s shooting buddy.
And now, it turns out that Pnoy does not have much trust on the Justice Secretary, too. He has to give IIRC’s report to his Exec Sec and Legal Counsel to study it. He said that the report has a blanket recommendation to file administrative and criminal charges against a bunch of people. He needed his legal team to study it in order “to operationalize it”.
First of all, it is not the business of the Exec Sec or Pnoy’s legal counsel “to operationalize” IIRC’s recommendations. The job to determine whether there is a prima facie case against these people lies with the Prosecutors’ office under the DOJ or to the Ombudsman or to the DILG in the case of the local executives (Mayor Lim and Vice Mayor Moreno).
If the Cabinet Secretaries do not yield real power, who does?
I am pleased that the IIRC report mostly coincided with my own conclusions, as can be seen from my previous posts.
I think that the media’s only fault was Mr. Rogas’s misinforming the hijacker that the police and Malacanang people were listening. He should not have exaggerated.
This whole saga could have turned out a blessing in disguise for the administration if only there was a strong and intelligent leadership at hand. Because of a lack of strong and intelligent leadership, it turned out to be a catastrophe that could very well bring in more political disasters for the current regime.