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Moving On

September 24, 2010 3 comments

 

Former PNP Chief Jesus Versoza

 

 

Moving On

by: Harvey S. Keh, T

he Manila Times

 

 

http://manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/26771–moving-on

It’s been a month now since the August 23 hostage fiasco at the Quirino Grandstand. Much time, effort and energy from our government leaders and their respective agencies have been exhausted these past weeks to ensure that a thorough investigation on the matter is conducted. Last Friday, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), tasked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to spearhead the investigation into this sad incident, has already finished its report and has officially recommended that administrative and/or criminal charges be filed against 13 police officers, government officials and media personalities. Hopefully, Aquino will be able to quickly act on these recommendations so that our country can finally move on from this tragic incident. The sooner we move on, the better for all of us since there are so many problems that the present administration currently faces. These problems include the continuing growth in poverty, the lack of good job opportunities here in the Philippines and the declining state of public health.

Aside from filing the necessary charges and punishing those who failed to fulfill their duties, a thorough investigation should also be done in terms of the rampant graft and corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP). Necessary charges have to be filed against police officials who are found to have used their power and position to enrich themselves. As Vince Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network so aptly explained, corruption isn’t just stealing funds from government, but it is using one’s public office for private gain. I cringe at the thought of Aquino giving former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa another position in the government, since all of us have seen how inept he was in handling the hostage crisis. For those who don’t know yet, Verzosa left Manila at 3 p.m., in the middle of the hostage crisis, to go to Cagayan de Oro. I dare ask Verzosa what could be more important in Cagayan de Oro that he would need to leave the scene of a hostage crisis with huge international implications to our country? It is no wonder that the PNP continues to be ill-prepared for situations such as these because it is run by leaders who cop out when the going gets tough.

I believe that there are still many ordinary police officers who continue to render good and ethical public service to the Filipino people, but as DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo correctly pointed out in the IIRC hearings, these police officers are often sent out to crime situations without the necessary training and equipment. This was clearly seen in the last hostage crisis, where we saw members of the Manila Police District SWAT team assaulting the tourist bus without the necessary bullet-proof vests and explosive devices that would’ve helped in defusing the situation. I heard a report that if you check the budget and expenses of the PNP, you would see that they would rather put millions of pesos into renovating and improving their swimming pool rather than buying the necessary equipment needed by the police force. The admirable courage and bravery shown by many of our policemen can only get them so far if they are not given proper training and equipment. 

We should also ask these police officials, especially Verzosa, how come jueteng has continued to thrive during his time as PNP chief. It took another big revelation for Archbishop Oscar Cruz to force the PNP to get its act together and try its darnest best to curb jueteng all over the country. As early as the first week of August, Robredo, a noted anti-jueteng advocate, already wrote a formal letter to Verzosa and DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Rico E. Puno, asking them to immediately address this problem; but after more than a month, nothing has happened. Why is that? Does this mean that Verzosa and Puno are also on the take in this illegal numbers game? Your guess is as good as mine.

Kaya Natin! Statement of Support for DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Statement of support for DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo

We, the leaders of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and
Ethical Leadership greatly appreciate the statement of President
Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to clear the name of Department of
Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo from
accountability regarding the failure of the Philippine National Police
(PNP) to respond effectively to the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis
last August 23,2010. In Aquino’s statement which was published in
several major newspapers, he clearly said that he had made a previous
arrangement for Secretary Robredo to focus on local government
matters and designated Undersecretary Rico Puno to be more directly in
charge of the PNP, thus it was Puno and not Robredo whom Aquino said
was partly to blame for the botched response of the PNP. We also
strongly support the move of Aquino to immediately convene an
investigation led by Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de
Lima and Robredo regarding this very unfortunate incident.

As such, we believe that persistent calls made by some of our
government leaders for Robredo to resign from his position and/or to
inhibit himself from the on-going investigation are unjustifiable and
baseless. We urge our government leaders to set aside politics for
the meantime as we try to move forward with the investigation to find
out what really transpired during the hostage crisis.

We believe that a swift, fair and impartial investigation on this
matter will help restore the credibility of our nation’s government in
the eyes of the international community. Finally, we urge the
President to act decisively towards giving the appropriate punishment
to government leaders who are found to have neglected in their duties
and responsibilities during the hostage crisis. By doing so, our
government can send a clear and strong message to our countrymen and
the international community that justice will be served to those who
failed to perform their duties regardless of influence or position.

SIGNED:

HON. EDDIE PANLILIO, former Governor, Pampanga
HON. GRACE PADACA, former Governor, Isabela
HON. TEOFISTO GUINGONA III, Senator
HON. TEDDY BAGUILAT, JR., Representative, Ifugao
HON. BOLET BANAL, Representative, Quezon City
HON. NERIC ACOSTA, former Representative, Bukidnon
HON. SONIA LORENZO, former Mayor, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija
HON. GLORIA CONGCO, Mayor, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija
HON. MABEL SUNGA ACOSTA, former Councilor, Davao City
HON. ROQUE VERZOSA, JR., Mayor, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur
HON. FLORANTE GERDAN, former Mayor, Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya
HON. MARIVIC BELENA, Mayor, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija
HON. VALENTE YAP, Mayor, Bindoy, Negros Oriental
HON. MARY JANE ORTEGA, former Mayor, San Fernando City, La Union
HON. FERMIN MABULO, former Mayor, San Fernando, Camarines Sur

Website: http://www.kayanatin.com

Tel: (02) 4341458

Email: kayanatin@yahoo.com

Why the hostage crisis happened and how we can move forward

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Why the hostage crisis happened and how we can move forward

by: Harvey S. Keh

For the past few days since the embarrassing hostage crisis that has brought international shame again to our country, I have been reflecting on how we as a Filipino people can collectively move forward from this incident. In cyberspace, many people continue to express anger, rage, disappointment, frustration and sadness about how our government particularly our Philippine National Police (PNP) handled the situation. Yes, I agree that there was indeed a lack of strong willed leadership from our government in handling and managing the situation but the reality is, the damage has been done and we all need to learn from this experience, unite and do our own share to help our nation to move forward. Let us first assess what truly happened in the hostage crisis since we need to learn from the hard mistakes of our past to move forward to a better future.

Firstly, let us ask what probably drove former police officer Rolando Mendoza to be desperate enough to take a whole bus full of tourists hostage and eventually kill many of them. My simple analysis is the fact that perhaps Mendoza no longer trusted and believed that our judicial institutions can provide him with a fair and equal judgement. What happened to Mendoza is an effect of the corruption of our democratic institutions that are tasked to protect the rights of  every Filipino. Yet, because institutions such as our courts, the Office of the Ombudsman and the COMELEC are now tarnished with so much graft and corruption, people such as Mendoza no longer have a venue to air our their grievances thus, they often resort to extra-judicial means in order for them to get the justice that they think they deserve. When people become desperate and they feel that they have been a victim of injustices committed by the very institutions that were supposed to protect their rights, their morals are weakened thus, it makes it easier for them to violate the law.  What he did was truly wrong but unless we are able to restore trust and credibility into our democratic institutions especially the Ombudsman who is known to protect the interests of the past administration, there will be more Filipinos who may be like Mendoza who will take matters into his own hands.

Moreover, the lack of proper training and equipment was one of the major reasons why the PNP failed to address the situation properly. Many of our lawmakers especially the allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo such  as Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Rep. Edcel Lagman  have called for the resignation of some Cabinet members of the barely 2-month old Aquino administration. Yet, does full accountability really fall under President Noynoy Aquino and DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo? Yes and no. Yes, because they are currently the ones who are in power and perhaps many of us would’ve wanted them to have been in full control of the situation. No, because even if they were in control of the situation, given the lack of training and proper equipment of our police force, the hostage crisis would’ve still most likely ended the way it did. Now, we beg the question, why is our police force inept and why do they lack proper equipment to deal with crisis situations such as these? The PNP will always answer that it is a problem of a lack of funds. So does that mean that we can’t do anything about it? No. A study by various international institutions have always said that the Philippines has lost more than 1 Trillion Pesos due to corruption at different levels of our government in the past 5 years. Imagine if just 1% of 1 Trillion pesos was used to upgrade the training and equipment of our PNP then I am sure they would’ve responded in a much better way to the hostage crisis.

Many of us blame the PNP for what happened but in reality they are also heroes who often sacrifice and risk their lives for all of us. I believe that majority of our police force are good and well-meaning Filipino public servants who went into the service to help our country. If our political leaders for the past 5 years only used our funds properly instead of putting it in their own pockets then I am sure that we would have been able to develop an elite police force that would be able to handle any type of crisis situation in a very effective manner. I am making no excuses for the Aquino administration because like I said, they should’ve been in full control the moment the hostage crisis started but in reality they are also inheriting a poorly trained and equipped PNP from the previous administration. Let us not forget that Aquino has been in power for barely two months while Robredo was just appointed as DILG chief in the middle of July. It is with this reason that I am really appalled by the way two very staunch supporters of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Miguel Zubiri and Albay’s  Rep. Edcel Lagman, are now trying their darndest best to play hero and pin all the blame on Aquino and Robredo. If they are really serious that they want to help our country and improve our image in the international community, then perhaps they can begin by probing and supporting an investigation on all the anomalies and corruption that happened during their boss’ term.

Now, what can we do to finally move forward? I think the greater challenge for us Filipinos is to understand that all of these has happened due to the rampant corruption and injustices that continue to pervade our government institutions. Many of us have actually contributed to this worsening situation especially when we choose to take shortcuts in dealings with our government institutions, bribing government officials for a favorable decision, selling our votes to the highest bidder or just by simply choosing to be apathetic while turning a blind eye to all the corruption that is happening in our midst. Aquino said it right when in his inauguration he called upon all of us to help him in cleaning up our government, restoring trust and credibility into our institutions and ultimately, begin the work to rebuild our nation.  He cannot do this alone, if we want to prevent this from happening again, all of us must do our own share in ensuring that graft and corruption are stopped, self-serving and greedy leaders no longer get elected and our government is run by effective, ethical and empowering leaders. If we all do our own share in promoting good governance and ethical leadership, who knows, maybe the next time we watch CNN or BBC, we will no longer have to watch another embarrassing crisis unfolding in our country, we will instead be watching how the Philippines has become a great nation once more because every Filipino decided to do his or her own small share in rebuilding our broken nation.

Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government and is Lead Convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.