FOLLOWING Monday’s bloody hostage drama that killed eight tourists and the hostage taker, Malacañang appealed Saturday for some fairness and respect from critics.
Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma reiterated that the government is already addressing criticisms over the incident.
“No one ever said there should have been a honeymoon. This is reality and the government must face it. This is part of our life as a nation. There will be happy and sad times, easy and hard times. The President, the government and the Cabinet all accept this as part of leading the nation. But all we ask is that our critics be fair,” he said on government-run dzRB radio.
But Coloma also reminded critics abroad that the Philippines is a sovereign country and will not be pushed into being bullied around.
He cited calls from abroad calling on government to make sure the investigation into the incident is fair.
“I want to point out we are a sovereign country. In exchanging opinions, there should also be some respect. I can assure you our investigation into the incident will be fair.”
The Aquino government had been receiving much flak from home and abroad over the questionable handling of a hostage crisis in Manila last Monday.
Coloma said the government will always seek to improve itself and learn from its failures, adding that they look at criticisms as part of the path to good governance.
He even cited an example in Japan, where some companies celebrate their “most successful failures” where they learn valuable lessons.
“We must learn from what happened instead of sweeping it under the rug. We must not stop with failure.”
The government meantime remains hopeful the situation will not escalate.
“I hope things will clear out and the incident will not affect our friendship. What happened was the consequence of the actions of one out of 100 million Filipinos. There is no incident that will warrant a lifetime of anger and hatred towards us. I hope things will cool down and everyone can move on,” said Coloma.
Guidelines for media outfits
Coloma also maintained that while President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III does not want prior restraint on media, the Palace is open to media outfits adopting guidelines in dealing with hostage crises.
“We are waiting for broadcast networks to adopt guidelines, then we’ll see what we can do to help.”
But he noted that while media drew up guidelines after the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007, some mass media organizations had trouble following them last Monday.
He said some even relished the “excitement” and may have even cost government negotiators a chance to defuse the situation when they called him and interviewed him.
“There was even a sense of some media organizations being excited about the `event and getting near the action. Some of them even interviewed Mendoza, which may have agitated him.”
Filipino workers in Hong Kong
Coloma appealed to Filipino workers in Hong Kong to remain calm and take care not to provoke emotions there. Hong Kong groups are planning a major protest rally on Sunday.
“Let us be understanding, they are just letting out their sentiments,” he said.
Earlier, the government expressed concern over the state of Filipino workers in Hong Kong.
On Saturday, labor officials confirmed the firing of at least one Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong due to Monday’s bus siege.
But Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said this appeared more of an isolated case, saying there are no other documented reports of workers being terminated due to the incident.
“Although the Filipino worker was terminated, the employer gave the worker the full benefits. There was no problem,” Baldoz said, but did not identify the terminated Filipino worker. “We have seen no other sign of termination of Filipino workers due to Monday’s incident.”
The Palace declined to comment on suggestions to reorganize the National Police Commission (Napolcom), saying the investigation is still ongoing.
Coloma said it is too early to comment on suggestions to move the Napolcom, which supervises the Philippine National Police, from the Interior Department to the Office of the President.
“It may be something worth looking into but for now let us allow the fact-finding to be completed. We must put closure on the case. We can review the government structure but for now we must concentrate on the fact-finding.”
He likewise declined to comment on suggestions to file charges against two broadcasters who last talked to Mendoza, adding it will be unfair to them at this stage of the investigation. (JMR/Sunnex)