Noynoy’s bungling of hostage crisis exposes his weak political leadership, writes Maria Ressa in The Wall Street Journal

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 To read the entire article and not just the article preview, follow the instructions Ressa posted on Twitter.

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