One surefire way to get respect from the international community is to admit to your mistakes and take the blame failures. But while Hong Kong breathes fire just thinking about the incompetence of the Filipino police and the weak national government, the current president, Noynoy Aquino, and the previous president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are pointing fingers at one another. From today’s Philippine Inquirer:
Malacañang [the equivalent of the White House] indicated on Thursday that the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also to blame for the bloody end of Monday’s hostage-taking drama at Rizal Park in Manila.
“I would like to point out that the administration of Benigno Aquino III is just 55 days old while Arroyo’s administration lasted for nine years. We just inherited the state of the Philippine National Police,” Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Palace communications and operations office told the ABS-CBN morning news program “Umagang Kay Ganda.”
“The previous administration should also answer for what they did [for the police]. Did they provide enough funds for the modernization of the PNP or did it waste funds for cases like the euro-generals and other corruption cases?” Coloma also said.
It was the first time that the Palace sought to blame the previous administration for the bloody end of the 11-hour standoff that claimed the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.
That is from the current administration. The allies of former president Arroyo, who is currently the target of a truth commission for corruption, fired back:
Allies of ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the House of Representatives yesterday took President Benigno Aquino III to task for Monday’s bungled hostage crisis and demanded the sacking of three Cabinet officials.
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said the Aquino administration “failed miserably” in its response to the 11-hour crisis that led to the killing of 8 of the 25 mostly Chinese tourists and the hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza.
“The crisis, because of its international repercussions and effects on our economy, demanded decisive and forthright presidential action, but the President was nowhere to be found. There was an obvious failure of leadership and now we’re the laughingstock of the international community,” Lagman told reporters at a briefing.
He is right that the Philippines is the laughingstock of the international community. But it is due in large part to the fact that the government of the Philippines looks like a joke. In truth, democracy here is a bit of a farce. Candidates openly employ staff to hand out money – cash payments – in exchange for votes. When they cannot buy off a community, they hire a bus, fill it with booze, and take the townspeople to the beach for a day of partying. By the time they return, it is too late and they’re too drunk to vote. The last two presidents have been investigated for corruption. One, Joseph Estrada AKA “Erap,” was convicted of plunder. Incidentally, he decided to run again and unbelievably came in second place in the election last May.
The reason the Philippines is the laughingstock of the international community is because this, like everything else, makes the government look like a joke. They squabble and blame and call for people to be fired, but never admit mistakes. Former President Arroyo – the same being investigated for corruption – is now Congresswoman Arroyo. Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao is now Representative Pacquiao. And former first lady Imelda Marcos, AKA the “Shoe Queen,” is now a senator. The country holds a day of mourning, and allow people to take souvenir photos in front of the bullet-riddled bus. No one thinks the government is taking it seriously and, unfortunately, as the 51% of people who voted against George W. Bush can attest, your country is held responsible for the actions of your government. Not every American submits to the Bush Doctrine, just as not every Filipino is an incompetent fool.