President Benigno Aquino III on Friday received a rude shock from the first hearing of a Malacañang committee investigating the bloody climax of the Aug. 23 hostage crisis at Luneta, forcing him to immediately reassert control of the Philippine National Police.
The hearings also revealed the Aquino administration coming unstuck by frictions between the national crisis management committee and the local crisis committee, the latter taking orders from Manila City officials led by Mayor Alfredo Lim.
At the height of the hostage crisis, confusion arose over blurred jurisdictional issues involving national and local crisis committees.
A sort of “command post” was set up at Emerald Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard, reportedly at the behest of the President, where it was reported he visited and had conferences with Lim and PNP officials directly involved in the rescue operations.
After the standoff in the negotiations with the hostage-taker, Lim moved over to Emerald Restaurant reportedly after he was summoned by Mr. Aquino. Emerald Restaurant is reputed to have “the best siopao in town.”
Presidential Communications Group Secretary Hermino Coloma needlessly issued a statement that although Mr. Aquino had taken full responsibility for the bungling, he would not resign because he has “a clear mandate.”
No one is calling on Mr. Aquino to resign. Nonetheless, the chaos in the administration’s response to the hostage massacre is eroding public confidence in the President’s ability to cope with crises. He is losing his huge political capital of public goodwill.