Aquino’s hands-off stance noted
Very recently, we saw President Aquino on national TV almost on the verge of tears as he announced his acceptance of suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima’s resignation. He recalled the parlous times his family had during the several coup attempts against the presidency of his mother, the late Cory Aquino. Purisima, then in their tight security loop, put his life on the line to protect them and helped send the would-be usurpers back to the barracks. Napakalalim ng pinagdaanan nila. Everyone could see that. P-Noy practically went so far as to say he and his family owed their lives to him. It takes one made of sterner stuff to admit that in public.
That explains P-Noy’s extreme reluctance to let go of Purisima. That explains his continued private consultations with him despite his suspension as PNP chief. More than anyone in Malacañang, it is quite obvious Purisima enjoyed (still does) the full trust and confidence of the President.
Is there ever any doubt about the President’s right and prerogative to consult with anyone regarding anything under the sun, including matters of the state? Is he constrained by any “chain of command” or protocol to seek advice only from his official family before making policy decisions? Of course not. Former presidents sought counsel all the time from trusted friends, relatives or, most often, from their own spouses who held nothing but ceremonial titles. But wherever the buck may pass, it always stops at the President’s desk at the end of the day!
Which brings us to the matter of P-Noy’s character. To appreciate it better, let’s revisit the past. Not very long ago, we were all witness to the spectacles of former presidents supposedly “influencing” the Office of the Ombudsman in cases involving their anointed officials, relatives and cronies.
Former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto had nightmares with public perception that he was coddling wrongdoers close to the executive power that appointed him. Former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was held to account via impeachment proceedings for acts or omissions as public perceptions went wild that she was playing favorites with former president Gloria Arroyo’s own thieving officials, relatives and cronies.
To date, no guns have come out blazing against P-Noy for trying to breathe down the neck of the current Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio Morales, to ease up on Purisima. Morales was hardly seen shilly-shallying over the propriety of meting out the suspension against him as PNP chief pending final determination of his culpability for the charges lodged against him. P-Noy’s acceptance of Purisima’s resignation was a true testament to his hands-off stance in matters concerning the administration of justice and to the serenity with which he could rise above his personal hurt. Let’s give credit where it is due.
—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, [email protected]
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