MANILA, Philippines–What’s so difficult about saying you’re sorry, former President Fidel Ramos asked on Wednesday.
In Ramos’ book, President Aquino can learn from his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the humility department.
Ramos, who just turned 87, said in a news conference Aquino should
take responsibility for the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF)
commandos in Mamasapano on Jan. 25 and apologize.
“What’s so difficult about that? A previous President said ‘I am
sorry,’ and so that removed a lot of pressure on that person although
eventually other things came up to cause her temporary detention in a
hospital for alleged crimes,” Ramos said, referring to Arroyo, now
Pampanga representative, who is under hospital arrest on plunder
Ramos said that Aquino could still redeem himself, pointing out,
“Saying ‘I’m sorry’ humbly and sincerely would probably do 90 percent of
He explained that an apology from the President at this point would
not work 100 percent because of the “hurt” that has gone deeper over the
Mamasapano incident which started when Aquino failed to show up at
Villamor Air Base on Jan. 29 to wait for the arrival of caskets bearing
the slain commandos.
“The recalcitrance of Malacañang, I’m not talking only about the
President but also his spokespersons and handlers, has led to this
situation in the Philippines today. There is so much divisiveness now… I
am sure the national interest does not include being divided among
ourselves in this manner now. Matindi ito (This is serious),” Ramos
Malacañang said no apology from Aquino on the Mamasapano debacle was forthcoming.
“We had discussions with him (Tuesday), but none touching on the call
for him to issue an apology over it,” said Abigail Valte, presidential
deputy spokesperson. “None so far.”
Valte said that in his address to the nation Feb. 6, the President
already had taken responsibility for the botched operation in
Maguindanao province when he accepted the resignation of suspended
Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima.
The President is the Commander in Chief of the Philippine National
Police, Ramos said, based on an executive order he himself signed as
then Chief Executive in 1995 to clarify “dark areas” on the doctrine of
chain of command pertaining to the police.
“The operative principle in governance, whether in a civil or
informal government, the military, police and also the uniformed forces,
the coast guard, militia and even private security agencies, there is a
chain of command that operates under the principle of command
responsibility,” he pointed out.
“We have been respecting the doctrine of command responsibility ever
since we were established as a government,” he said, pointing out that
government and police officials faced criminal prosecution for failure
to take preventive or corrective action on the commission of a crime by a
“In the case of the President, however, the matter can be imposed in a
higher administrative punishment later on. But for a sitting President
or incumbent, at that point in time, the only recourse is through
impeachment,” Ramos said.
He emphasized that the President’s job was to take care of the
national interest, the defense of the national territory’s sovereignty
and integrity and maintaining a position of respect, dignity and even
admiration among the family of nations.
He said that as President, he faced three Senate blue ribbon
investigations on alleged corruption in the Centennial Expo in Clark,
the funding for the rehabilitation of Smokey Mountain and the purchase
and sale of the country’s power plants. He was cleared of any
irregularities in the deals.
“This is the future every President must confront manfully and
truthfully. This is part of the job when you enter into the electoral
contest for the highest position of the land. You better expect that the
highest kinds of alleged crimes will be hit on you. That’s the way it
goes in this democracy of ours,” he said.–With a report from Nikko Dizon
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