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Noynoy's bungling of hostage crisis exposes his weak political leadership, writes Maria Ressa in The Wall Street Journal
Published on: Sep 8, 2010 - 12:50am

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Screencap from The Wall Street Journal.

In an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, ABS-CBN Head of News and Current Affairs Maria Ressa wrote that President Noynoy Aquino's "bungled handling of (the Quirino Grandstand) hostage crisis exposes his weak political leadership." The article, headlined "Noynoy Flunks His First Test," details how Aquino's "early political compromises are exacerbating problems in the weak institutions he's promised to reform."

Ressa discussed how two political factions in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Palace Communications group played a "big role" in the handling of the hostage crisis: The Samar faction which includes "former aides and officials with long personal ties to the President and his family," and the Balay faction which is "associated with the Liberal Party and former cabinet secretaries who publicly challenged (Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo)."

Ressa said Aquino transferred the powers over the police, which the DILG secretary usually holds, from DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Balay faction to Undersecretary Rico E. Puno of the Samar faction. Calling Puno "underqualified," Ressa said the friend and "shooting" partner of the President "exerted almost no leadership, preferring to let the local police handle the situation. "

The two factions also played into the administration's "trouble deciding what to say and how to say it" on the day of the hostage taking, said Ressa. Previously headed by one press secretary, the Palace Communications group now has three leaders, according to Ressa: Sonny Coloma of the Samar faction, and Edwin Lacierda and Ricky Carandang of the Balay faction.

"(The hostage crisis) was a disastrous example of incompetence, political factionalism and lack of national leadership... The coming weeks will show whether (the President) can learn from his mistakes, or whether the Philippines is in for another Aquino presidency that has good intentions but bungled outcomes," Ressa wrote.

For more on this story, log on to WSJ.com. To read the entire article and not just the article preview, follow the instructions Ressa posted on Twitter.

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41 Comments
  • spongebob
    I like her because she has guts to say whatever she thinks is right.rnrnFurthermore, many people agreed with her because such kind of hostage crisis is a national issue because: the foreigners are involved and it is already making a big headline, many hours has passed yet the crisis has not been solved (from day to night) etc. rnrnBTW Maria Ressa is the head of current events (ABS CBN) and she has a higher position than Kris.
    Nov 04 2010 @ 05:35am     Reply  
  • bpsitlog
    when i first saw the hostage coverage that morning, my mind said, wow abs and gma news execa are now jumping w joy.rnhappens everytime. pipigain ng husto ang lahat ng anggulo at intriga sa balita.rnnow we,re hearing a bit more of jueteng news. he ampatuan massacre trial hardly gets any airtime. napiga na .rni'm just waiting now for the next big event
    Sep 16 2010 @ 04:11pm     Reply  
  • kris austria
    incompetent talaga si noynoy wala man lang naipasang bill sa senate nung senator pa sya..rnrnmga die hard fans ni noynoy lang talaga ang may gusto sa kanya kasi ginawa siyang celebrity. pero yung taong nag iisip kita naman na walang kasalanan ang media..rn rnwalang kasalanan ang media. dapat pinutol ang connection ng tv/radio sa loob ng bus in that way kahit live broadcast walang problema
    Sep 14 2010 @ 08:14pm     Reply  
  • Mark
    Correction lang, may typo error sa first sentence dapat ganito "I just want ..." dapat hindi I've just want ..." Mahirap na baka may grammarians dito. Hehehe.
    Sep 13 2010 @ 09:42am     Reply  
  • Mark
    I've just want to share this article written by Ms. Evangelista. I voted for Pnoy, but I tend to agree with Ms. Ressa and Ms. Evangelista's opinions.rnrn"The hostaged presidentrnBy Patricia EvangelistarnPhilippine Daily InquirerrnFirst Posted 21:05:00 09/11/2010rnrnMANILA, Philippines—At midnight on Aug. 23, 2010, three hours after a 12-hour hostage crisis ended with the brutal deaths of eight foreign nationals, President Benigno Aquino III finally appeared before national television.rnrnHe condoled with the families of the dead, and the people of Hong Kong. Although he admitted the police needed to improve their skills, he justified the long drawn-out crisis by saying the hostage-taker did not seem to be belligerent. He said that the Quirino Grandstand was a difficult place for even the police to cover.rnrnThe blame was clearly on the media. He said that news coverage further agitated the hostage-taker. He said in other countries the police could have asked the media to refrain from shooting critical video. He said the media gave the police a hard time.rnrnAsked by a reporter why he did not impose a news blackout, “If we ordered a news blackout, you’d accuse us of censoring you.”rnrnThere was no admission of any failure on the part of Malacañang. The President said his decision not to intervene allowed ground commanders to make decisions without being limited by his presence.rnrnThe storm of criticism came soon after—including indignation as to why the Philippine President was smiling while a weeping Hong Kong watched.rnrnThe President said he was smiling in frustration.rnrnTwo days later, on Aug. 25, Eduardo Lacierda, one of the President’s three spokesmen, again defended the administration’s position.rnrn“Mere absence does not mean we did not give importance to the situation,” he said. “There were just matters that complicated the situation.”rnrnOn Aug. 31, early on Tuesday morning, Secretary Sonny Coloma, the second of the presidential spokesmen, announced that there was no failure in leadership.rnrn“He was exercising his role as leader in the way he deemed fit, as mandated by the people.”rnrnColoma instead blamed the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, saying that Aquino had only been in position for 55 days when Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza held up a bus of Chinese nationals.rnrnThere were revelations. The head of the crisis team had gone off to eat at a restaurant at the height of the crisis. The second-in-command was drinking coffee at a bar. A phone call from the Hong Kong chief executive had not been returned. The wrong team had been sent in. Media had breached the boundaries. There is the possibility hostages had been killed by local fire. The PNP accidentally turned over the hostage-taker’s phone to the Hong Kong authorities in the aftermath. Bodies of victims were mishandled, and sent to Hong Kong in the wrong coffins. Presidential spokesmen made contradictory statements. Jesse Robredo, head of the Department of Interior and Local Government supposedly in charge of the Philippine National Police, was alternately appointed, defended, demoted and promoted, and was assigned to investigate the same PNP he was told he could not handle.rnrnAnd so the President who had done no wrong, whose leadership had not failed, whose decisions were made at the mandate of the people, announced he was taking responsibility.rnrn“At the end of the day, I am responsible for everything that has transpired.”rnrnHe went on to explain that he had trusted people he shouldn’t have trusted. He had assumed his orders would be followed. He had assumed there were media guidelines. He assumed that the situation would be resolved.rnrn“In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken a more active role in that the belief that General Santiago would oversee [Manila Police District Chief Rodolfo] Magtibay properly and completely did not happen.”rnrnHe said he had many questions while the crisis was happening. Why did negotiator Yerba’s face change when Mendoza opened the Ombudsman’s letter? Why was Mendoza’s brother arrested? Why was the media allowed to shoot the arrest? Did they not think of the effect on Mendoza? Why was the assault team so slow? Who ordered the assault? Did they not consider Mendoza’s possible retaliation? Why the SWAT and not the SAF? He says he waits for answers.rnrnThe President has great faith in the skills of his people, and very little in his own, so much so that he will watch mistakes made and allow them to happen instead of making immediate decisions. This is the same President who announced he was willing to give 80 percent of his portfolio to his vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas, and is now the man willing to leave operations to a ground command team that was clearly making mistakes midway. “My patience ran out,” he said, and it was his reason for haring off to Emerald Restaurant to “monitor” the situation.rnrnHe is the popular ruler afraid of losing his popularity, and it showed on the ground with his failure to command a media blackout at risk of alienating an already erring media. He is not yet a president. He is a politician, currying votes and hunting for the acceptable consensus.rnrnToday the son of heroes makes the noble stand. He takes responsibility, reacting, again reacting, without knowing what taking responsibility means. Does it mean the De Lima probe becomes irrelevant, because after all, how can commanders be held responsible when presidents take the fall? Does it mean heads will roll, especially the heads he has accused in his interview? Certainly it does not mean explaining that other countries have gotten their own hostages killed too, and certainly it does not include defending himself by saying he had once witnessed his mother’s PSG hostage training and assumed it would be the same. Neither does it mean the creation of random elite forces or grand broadcast blockbusters that bring in the poll numbers.rnrnNow he says he should have been more active, and in the same breath defends his refusal to intervene. It is a useless admission of guilt for his inaction; one that should have come from the beginning. Now it is a grand, empty gesture, as grand and as empty as “I am sorry” was from a predecessor who now laughs in her sleeve.rnrnThe President spoke at the wake of former Olongapo City Mayor Teodoro on the 7th of September. In Filipino, he said that the tragedy would not last long, that Filipinos will get past it as an event to point the nation to the right direction. Eight men and women died, under his watch, in a bloody massacre that rocked the lives of families, whose effects will be felt by Filipinos in the decade to come. This is the true state of the nation of Benigno Aquino III.rnrn“Our problems now, in two or three years, we can say that they are laughable when we recall that they were not that grave.”rn"
    Sep 13 2010 @ 09:27am     Reply  
  • chicha
    A typical case of the pot calling the kettle black.rnrnMaria Ressa has no standing to criticize anybody on the issue unless she fesses up to her and her station’s role in the tragedy.rnMaria Ressa just repeating what most pundits already been saying along, not her original take on President Aquino, but considering that her own profession contributed greatly to the fiasco and never even admitted the slightest responsibility for it and blame it on the administration then chances are the good intentions of this government will be surely ‘thwarts’ by the many obstructionists like her.rnrnIn my view, her credibility to rate president is close to flunk too.rn
    Sep 10 2010 @ 03:00pm     Reply  
  • oh ha
    rnA Princeton grad, Fulbright scholar, maganda sana ang resume.rnrnBut the article says nothing new; nothing that I haven’t read here in Ellenville, or other blogs like Reyna Elena. The only advantage of this Ressa woman is she has the platform. She writes for the Asian Wall Street Journal.rnrnKung sa laman lang, that fellow Barnido at Reyna Elena’s packs a stronger writing punch than Ressa. Barnido versus Ressa is like Pacquiao v Hatton. Puro credentials lang ang huli.rnrnWhat about Ressa’s performance in that fiasco about the psychological evaluation of candidate Aquino?rnrnDo you remember this?rnrnhttp://www.abs-cbnnews.com/insights/04/11/10/black-ops-and-nature-2010-campaigns-maria-ressarnrnBut I am waiting for the reaction of ABS-CBN management with regards to Maria Ressa’s tirade against PNOY. As we know, she is under the employ of ABS-CBN and its owners are forever grateful to Cory Aquino for being instrumental in having the network returned to them after EDSA 1. The last paragraph of Maria Ressa’s article shows not only of her giving failing grade to PNoy’s first test but also critical of Cory by saying that…”the Philippines is in for another Aquino presidency that has good intentions but bungled outcomes.”rn
    Sep 10 2010 @ 02:55pm     Reply  
  • lila
    And Maria Ressa passed her test with flying colors. Asked why there was no self-restraint in the coverage of the hostage situation, she replied: “We would have been criticized by the viewers or what viewers would have done is switch stations.”rnrnAnd she Tweeted: “If only one network does it, you would just switch to another. Needed gov’t to ask for blackout from all. We would’ve cooperated.”rnrnSa madaling salita, “it’s the viewers’ fault. They made us do it.”
    Sep 10 2010 @ 02:52pm     Reply  
  • A tiger who RAWRR.
    I'm not trying to repose anger upon whoever is "criticizing government officials for turning a serious event..." or anything for that matter. What I am just trying to pinpoint is the idea that a fellow Filipino would do this to his/her leader implicitly in public. It's like telling your friends that your mother have slept with more than two guys. However, I do understand that the account written in here is just a mere opinion of a free citizen of this country. I could not debate on it more. nevertheless that is also what I did with my last comment. Now if you do have a dispute with that, I would not look after your statement inconsistency :)
    Sep 10 2010 @ 10:31am     Reply  
  • Joseph
    Tiger and few others, there is nothing wrong with criticizing government officials for turning a serious event which could happen anywhere into a fantastically Filipino experience of failure, hindsight, and finger-pointing. rnrnWhile Ressa conveniently forgot that her own field is just as much to blame, I definitely won't hate on her for being frank about how this situation was handled.
    Sep 10 2010 @ 03:14am     Reply  
  • rica
    shame on you, maria ressa! crab ka! i hate noy too, but would never make him sira to the world.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 10:55am     Reply  
  • Marj
    @ a tiger, you are absolutely correct. Guess what is a typical Filipino pastime? Washing dirty linen outside their own homes. When abroad, they tell all the bad things about the Philippines but will never mention that Bohol and Palawan are awesome. They will tell you that Los Angeles is great but will never tell you that the vicinity of LAX is as dingy as Pasay City. They will buy all the nicest US goods but will never tell you the multiple overtime hours they worked to fill up that balikbayan box. Look at Maria Ressa, she chose the right venue to make some extra money - the Wall Street Journal. Is it really a damaged culture?
    Sep 09 2010 @ 10:39am     Reply  
  • A tiger who RAWRR.
    You know what's wrong with Filipinos? Is that they would rather find loopholes to blame someone in position than being the ones to deliberate their own intricacies within their actions. Come on. You people are furious at a Filipino president and a Filipino gone-wild-policeman. You know who's left to hate upon? You, you dear COMPATRIOT. No doubt that's what I am trying to point out right now. But at least I am aware of it. Crab mentality is widely practiced nowadays. Woebegone.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 10:22am     Reply  
  • Marj
    Maria Ressa is lucky because of her CNN credentials. If not for that, the ABS-CBN management would have preferred a local talent. Maria is more than lucky that she got away with the reports on fake PNoy psycho tests and coverage of the hostage drama with impunity. Again, if she happened to be in the United States, she won't last an extra hour at a US media outfit because of very strong public opinion. Think Dan Rather of CBS News who reported about Bush's fake military record without thorough verification. Dan Rather was immediately fired.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 09:57am     Reply  
  • joe
    why get mad at maria when she is just telling the truth? filipinos like to pretend and hide what is unsightly. this the reason why it still is a third world country and will remain so.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 09:01am     Reply  
  • joe
    I agree with Maria Ressa. But I will still rally behind Noy (didn't vote for him). He wants to be different from his two predecessors that he became too sanctimonious. He acts like he's still an opposition. Time for him to shape up. We still have to punish GMA.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 08:24am     Reply  
  • Irene
    I voted for Noy and still hoping and praying that things look up during his term for the sake of our country. I remain positive and optimistic that we will surpass this and many other hurdles if we remain united and stop the blame game. rnrnHonestly, I was disappointed that there was no intervention from the top and was expecting more action from the administration. I am not giving up just because of this incident. I want to give him another chance. rnrnThe good will outweigh the bad. rnrnrn
    Sep 09 2010 @ 01:23am     Reply  
  • Common
    Wanna make a bet? The next PNP chief is going to be either PNoys close friend, a family friend, or someone whom he owes something. There's really nothing different between Erap and Noynoy.
    Sep 09 2010 @ 01:03am     Reply  
  • chos
    mashadong magaling tong ressa na to ah. una hindi daw nagaapply satin ang rules sa hostage taking kasi "western setting" lang daw yun (acc to her tweeter). kaya ngayon nagtitira naman sha. hmmmm... lumulusot
    Sep 09 2010 @ 12:24am     Reply  
  • Abner
    Ressa is just getting even with NoyNoy. Noy earlier took a swipe at ABS-CBN. Check out the report on antipinoy .com
    Sep 08 2010 @ 11:20pm     Reply  
  • Byc
    Why the apparent slant by Ressa to absolve the media? Thought she was supposed to be objective.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 10:45pm     Reply  
  • JCP, Quezon City
    Certainly, M. Ressa has the right to say anything she pleases. For M. Ressa to write about this particular event and to single out B. Aquino's leadership, however, is simply strange, and even laughable, when WE ALL KNOW that ABS-CBN (and other media outfits) should be held accountable (as well) for the tragedy.rnrnAs early as 5:12PM, T. Failon was relentless in asking the brother of Mendoza to "go with the cops". T. Failon must have at the very least been told that R. Mendoza was watching local news inside the bus.rnrnM. Ressa has not provided any sort of training in hostage-taking for any ABS-CBN personnel, yet leaves T. Failon to go on-the-air and get the brother to do what R. Mendoza specifically has asked the world--via media--not to do.rnrnWhere was M.Ressa at this time? Did she object to T. Failon's actions? Did she even call his attention to this matter? Can she admit to her mistakes? Will she even do so? And, in the end, can she learn from her mistakes, or is our nation in for more of ABS-CBN blunders. rnrnP.S. Alam naman natin halos walang bumot kay noynoy dito sa spot.ph. (85% ng spot readers ay para kay gordon.)
    Sep 08 2010 @ 09:34pm     Reply  
  • JCP, Quezon City
    Certainly, M. Ressa has the right to say anything she pleases. For M. Ressa to write about this particular event and to single out B. Aquino's leadership, however, is simply strange, and even laughable, when WE ALL KNOW that ABS-CBN (and other media outfits) should be held accountable (as well) for the tragedy.rnrnAs early as 5:12PM, T. Failon was relentless in asking the brother of Mendoza to "go with the cops". T.Failon must have at the very least been told that R. Mendoza was watching local news inside the bus.rnrnM. Ressa has not provided any sort of training in hostage-taking for any ABS-CBN personnel, yet leaves T. Failon to go on-the-air and get the brother to do what R. Mendoza specifically has asked the world--via media--not to do.rnrnWhere was M.Ressa at this time? Did she object to T. Failon's actions? Did she even call his attention to this matter? Can she admit to her mistakes? Will she even do so? And, in the end, can she learn from her mistakes, or is nation in for more of ABS-CBN blunders.rnrnP.S. Mukhang wala naman bumoto kay noynoy dito kasi 85% ng spot readers kay gordon bumoto.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 09:29pm     Reply  
  • Pok
    @bok,rnrnpetty crimes? sira ba ulo mo? nakita mo na ang GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS, petty crime. Sino ba binoto mo by the way? Sabihin mo na lang exremely bad judgement call. Na underestimate niya ang situation dahil nga mahina ang kukote. Hindi niya agad naisip ang implications ng situation at mga chinese tourists...
    Sep 08 2010 @ 09:02pm     Reply  
  • jplusoandd
    It was on Op-ed piece! For those who disagree with her commentary, you could always write a rejoinder.rnFreedom of speech, and a critical one, is always healthy for a thriving democracy.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 08:50pm     Reply  
  • bok
    by the way i did not vote for noynoy....
    Sep 08 2010 @ 05:51pm     Reply  
  • bok
    wake-up pipol!!! have you ever seen a president in any country that was involved in hostage taking by an individual? does a president need to have a say in all the crimes commited everyday? if hostage taking is due to political reason like the taking hostages in exchange for political prisoners or like the makati incident then yes the president should be involve. but not of petty crimes my gosh.....
    Sep 08 2010 @ 05:34pm     Reply  
  • Cory Aquino
    bobo talaga si noynoy. t*ng* tanga.may pag ka a b n o y .
    Sep 08 2010 @ 05:26pm     Reply  
  • Paking
    Na- INCEPTION ba si Conrad de Quiroz? Kaya pala nasa position na ang UTOL niya, sa SSS pa, na maraming pwedeng kurakutin. I no longer read his columns at the PDI.He has lost his credibility.rnMas gusto ko pang basahin column ni Ramon Tulfo, NO HOLDS BARRED!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 05:25pm     Reply  
  • Yang Tseng
    Without downplaying the serious issues, e.g. factionalism & unclear lines of responsibility, raised by the WSJ article, Maria Ressa should also admit that broadcast media are also accountable for the Luneta Hostage tragedy.rnrnWhile we are trying to hold our government accountable for this national shame, it is about time that media be held accountable to. rnrnInstead of covering the news, they decide to be part of the news. The Manila Peninsula siege?! And now this?!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 05:18pm     Reply  
  • Bloing
    Na-inception sina de quiros et al kaya ganun ang suporta ke noynoy. lol!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 04:28pm     Reply  
  • Threeoil
    I don't think Maria Ressa's criticism is a cheap shot. It is what it is... a criticism. Yes it's disappointing that our nation would be be put in a bad light because of the article in WSJ but the Philippines/Aquino Administration is already scorned because of the hostage taking incident even without this being written. And, in my own opinion, the two-faction theory has basis. I mean, if you really followed what transpired, you'll remember that Coloma and Carandang initially had different statements regarding Chang contacting the president. Warring factions or not, the current administration must quickly learn to present themselves with consistency.rnrnAnd just because Ressa talked negatively about Noynoy doesn't maker her any less of a Filipino . For me, she is merely stating facts. And besides, we do not prove our patriotism by just shoving our dirt under the rug. What we need is true patriotism and not that idiotic-media hyped Filipino pride which makes us only see the good things and forget the reality that we need to work on a lot of things. Optimism and being delusional are two very different things. We should look at the dark recesses of our society straight in the eye, accept that we failed miserably in handling the hostage taking and stop making lame excuses. rnrnI, too, did not vote for Noynoy. But I think all of us... the police, the president, the media all of us contributed, in one way or another, in the mess we're in. And I guess, we just need to stop the blame game and take responsibility and accountability for our actions.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 04:25pm     Reply  
  • Green Archer
    I agree with Ms. Maria. Kudos for having the guts for saying it like it is! She's a great writer.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 04:18pm     Reply  
  • Butch A
    What can you expect from Ms. Ressa, showbiz journalism na rin..
    Sep 08 2010 @ 04:10pm     Reply  
  • Daquiri
    ...hey maria, we just don't get it...linking alleged warring factions of the President's men to the bungled handling of the hostage taking...for someone like you, this is so amateurish cheap shot!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 03:09pm     Reply  
  • Santos Matatakutin
    Alam na ito noong mga maka-GORDON-FERNANDO, natalo lang by sheer numbers.Sa mga bumoto ki Noy Noy, ano ano masasabi niyo sa lack of leadership di umano, sabi ni Ressa? BTW, saang factions sila Conrado de Quiroz, Billy Esposo, at si Pastor Saycon?
    Sep 08 2010 @ 01:54pm     Reply  
  • Naman
    Right. So Lopez heads must therefore roll for the tragedy that is Revillame.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 12:32pm     Reply  
  • blitzkrieg_girl
    I agree with Before. I didn't vote for Noy either and frankly, I'm more inclined to watch news in Channel 2 or ANC but this is beyond senseless. I didn't expect someone as intelligent as Maria Ressa to throw a cheap shot like this. It's one thing to be defensive and not apologize about being part of the reason why the hostage crisis turned into a disaster. But it's even more disgusting to talk like you have all the reason to blame other people. Think, if MR's family was in that same bus, would she have covered the whole thing like ABS did and followed the journalists' "tendencies" to "push the envelope"?rnrn
    Sep 08 2010 @ 12:23pm     Reply  
  • whatsthefrequency
    Lagot ka kay Kris! Mapapatalsik ka sa DOS!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 11:30am     Reply  
  • Before
    I used to idolize Maria Ressa during her stint in CNN. She brought credibility to her reports especially on how she expounded on facts. But when she transferred to ABS CBN, personally, for me, she lost her fire, and has handled particularly the coverage on hostage taking lousily. She has lost her touch. I do hope that she realize that aside from abiding in journalism ethics, she should also remember that she is Filipino. I may not have voted for Noy, but I will not lambaste my president on the Wall Street Journal. Shame on you Maria Ressa!
    Sep 08 2010 @ 10:42am     Reply  
  • Del
    Maria Ressa's handling of Noynoy's fake psychological tests also showed Maria's lack of journalistic ethics.
    Sep 08 2010 @ 10:31am     Reply  
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