The Mamasapano encounter and its impact on 2016

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at Feb 18 2015 06:50 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2015 02:50 AM

There is always a tendency for the severity of any tragic event, blood and gore notwithstanding, to wane and discount itself over time.

The astute and devious among political strategists, operators and persuaders must already be doubling tempo, fathoming the depth of the actual, contrived, perceived and projected errors of the incumbent Presidency. Can Mamasapano-generated emotions be harnessed as an anti-Aquino campaign capital for the 2016 presidential elections? (It has already failed as a ‘topple Aquino’ ploy!)

Indeed, it is a valid question. Even if PNoy is not a candidate. How to exploit and maximize its deleterious impact as an advantage in the 2016 elections, on the one hand and on the other, how to repair the damage and design a near ‘deus ex machina’ rescue counter subterfuge. Philippine political theater demands that these equations are wrestled with and pinned down.

Apart from the “Fallen 44” and the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the presidency of Benigno Aquino III is decidedly the unequivocal casualty of Mamasapano. The throes of acute pain and suffering the President faces by the hour these days because of his ultimate responsibility for the lives of the fallen police commandos is the nagging reminder that, collaterally, his leadership and personal credibility has been damaged.

He is certainly not unaware that the profound and unavoidable dissipation of influence in the endorsement of his presidential candidate in 2016 will be an encumbrance.

He is not unaware that his candidate, whoever he might be, hopefully carrying forward the potential legacy of his personal mantra--“daang matuwid,” (the straight path) badly battered as it currently stands, will be saddled with herculean odds. The prospects appear daunting for a PNoy endorsement. But it is not insurmountable.

Confirmation of this dismal outlook will come with the results of the next opinion survey. It is expected that PNoy’s rating will inevitably suffer a slide. Regardless, the President will not bow, and should not, to the wont of his hecklers. And so, what to do! What to do?

FIGHTING BACK

Aggressively and vigorously fighting back has no alternative. There should be no quandary. A cold-blooded resoluteness must be at the center of a well-thought out plan followed with deft execution. More than ever, the mettle of the President’s personally chosen confreres now possess the opportunity to tussle with real political windmills.
On the upswing, up among the stars! Or caught in the downswing, mired in mud! (With my apologies to Don Quixote.)

It is evident that the instigators and promoters of continuing anger and outrage at President Aquino and at the tragic demise of the “Fallen 44” will continue to contrive, to fan and to roil until they have his head decapitated! To these nagging grandstanders, no response from President Aquino will ever be acceptable unless he steps down (or is ousted by the wild hallucination of a successful coup d’etat), thus resigning a democratic and legitimate mandate.

Failing that, which most probably has not yet crossed the minds of the cocky and overconfident detractors, they will attempt to utilize and keep Mamasapano as current as possible and drag it towards election time, for the desired effect.

The success of this ghoulish enterprise can be measured by the extent that they have so far obscured the fact that the President has claimed responsibility for the tragedy. It was never denied that he approved the project long before its implementation, while the bloody results of the badly bungled implementation cannot be divorced from the admitted disobedience and culpability of Napenas and Purisima. A precise directive from the President--“coordinate with the AFP”--was intentionally not followed, remember?

Nonetheless, the President has already said “I am fully responsible for any result, any triumph, any suffering, any tragedy...,"; "This tragedy happened during my term and I will carry this to the end of my days.” Perhaps, it is PNoy’s tepid delivery of commiseration and the delayed claim of ultimate responsibility that makes for a near dud, P.R.-wise!

NEW FACTS, EVENTS

It certainly would be an alleviating factor, easing PNoy’s pain, should new mitigating relevant facts emerge or an intervening big event occur replacing (or in the least diminishing) Mamasapano in the public’s attention and umbrage. The sooner the better, of course, but erasing Mamasapano from memory is already an impossibility.

To be realistic, however, because public opinion is fleeting, fickle and subject to exigent occurrences ((natural or well-crafted artifices), the true extent of Mamasapano’s unfavorable impact upon this administration vis-a-vis the forthcoming 2016 elections, cannot yet be measured with certainty. The import of PNoy’s endorsement may be handicapped for now, but it certainly will not count for “a kiss of death.”

Tempus fugit! Between now and election time is a vast eternity! Already the sanity of the hilarious call for President Aquino to step down or resign, as well as that of the “10-million signature regime change” campaign is being put to question. The fact that the “National Transformation Council” is now known to be led by a Marcos acolyte and an Arroyo lackey, Kit Tatad and ‘Norbe’ Gonzales, respectively, qualifies their political caper for an ‘LOL’ classification! They are singing a siren song that is so out of tune! That this duo is cheered on by a squad of ecclesiastical rogues adds color to the national comedy. Don’t you think it is truly fun in the Philippines?

Seriously now, there will always be that considerable discerning sector of the electorate who will not lose sight of the many salutary achievements chalked up by this President before the frightful advent of the “Fallen 44.” The sobriety of that sector is respected and followed. Initiatives against graft and corruption continue to remain relevant and has maintained its currency.

Furthermore, President Aquino is not a crook. Malacanang must, therefore, not allow these truths to be eclipsed by the machinations of irrelevant political nitwits. This is the existential challenge in projection and perception that the President and his platoon of persuaders must approach with cutting precision.

2016 PROSPECTS

Let us take a little intermission with some observations gleaned from the Senate Blue Ribbon hearings.

I am not quite ready to write off DILG Secretary Mar Roxas. He was composed and sober with a statesman-like demeanor. He has earned a useful degree of sympathy for having been intentionally left out of the loop. His personal integrity remains intact. He knows his deficiencies and he must endeavor to overcome them. Drumrolls and drama will be critical within the next four months if he remains seriously desirous of being PNoy’s successor. A display of fire in the belly is helpful!

Justice Secretary de Lima benefited from the exposure. She exhibited confident poise and savvy. She came across as authoritatively knowledgeable and articulate. A winner, possibly top three, should she for the Senate in 2016. The country will be served well by her presence in the Senate. I will campaign and vote for her.

If the voters of Mindanao and the Visayas nurse a long memory, the performance of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (his opportunistic withdrawal from co-authorship of the BBL and his demeanor towards MILF and Muslim Filipinos) will haunt him. He was being surreptitiously disingenuous by implicating the MILF leadership in dealings with Marwan, the slain high-value terrorist, insisting that MILF is a terrorist organization while holding a copy of a California court charge sheet which does not contain definitive evidence to uphold Cayetano’s contention. I find this posture replete with dishonest gimmickry..

Senator Grace Poe’s active and deft chairing of the Mamasapano hearings is impressive and highly commendable. Unfortunately, her unresolved genealogy plus her silence and absence in the Binay inquiry are bothersome angles to her profile. Her standard of public morality is impaired and thus held in question. This will be effective fodder and easily exploitable against her. Her threshold for politically-induced emotional pain will be tested if she even hints at succumbing to the allure and temptation of higher political office.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, pending confirmation of the cure for her cancer, is a declared contender for the Presidency in 2016. Depending on one’s disposition, she is either irritating or entertaining but always exciting. One is led to wonder if she could be the bitter pill that the doctor has ordered for the country’s malady. But ‘screengrabs’ of her tirades and self-adulating utterances (and these have become just too many) during the current hearings as well as during the Corona trial are potential “explosive devices” with politically fatal consequences. As a tool of character assassination in political demolition, it can be very ugly.

'DEUS EX MACHINA'

Speaking of “a near deus ex machina" rescue counter-subterfuge and “an intervening big event,” I do not know of any prospect in the visible horizon other than the timely indictment of VP Jejomar Binay for monumental graft committed against the people. Folks, that is when real shit hits the ceiling fan!

Therefore, in the hands of Madame Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Ombudsman of the Republic, lie the reincarnation of the validity of an Aquino endorsement in the 2016 elections, and as well, the lasting and indelible legacy of ‘daang matuwid.”

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.