MANILA, Philippines - Secretary for Operations Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Office
is willing to relinquish his post if President Aquino so wishes.
“I am prepared to step down if that is the desire of the President,” Coloma said. “We only serve at the pleasure of the President.”
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman called on Coloma, Communications Group Secretary for Messaging Ricky Carandang and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to leave their posts for their failures in the handling of the Aug. 23 hostage crisis.
“I respect Congressman Lagman,” Coloma said.
“There is a confirmation process and I am willing, the other members of Cabinet are willing, to go through that process.”
Robredo and Carandang have also decided to stay on in the Cabinet.
Mr. Aquino has ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to conduct an investigation into the hostage crisis.
De Lima said they would try to finish the probe in three weeks.
Coloma had earlier said he is also prepared to defend his agency’s less than P1.2-billion proposed budget for 2011.
Coloma has supervision over the government’s TV NBN-4, RPN-9 and IBC-13.
All government-owned media will also be under his jurisdiction, among them the News and Information
Bureau, Philippine News Agency, Philippine Information Agency, Radio-TV Malacañang, Bureau of Broadcast Services, Bureau of Communications Services, National Printing Office, APO Production Unit and Office of the President Web Development Office.
Palace: No power struggle at DILG
Malacañang denied yesterday a power struggle exists between Secretary Jesse Robredo and Undersecretary Rico Puno at the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Palace officials reiterated President Aquino’s statement that Robredo could not really be made directly responsible for the mishandling of the hostage crisis because Puno was in charge of the police.
Coloma said Puno was reporting to Robredo, and not directly to President Aquino.
“Undersecretary Puno was doing his part,” he said.
“Those duties were being performed under the direction of the President as he was monitoring the progress of the negotiations with the hostage-taker.
“And we need to view those developments within that overall context.”
Coloma said Robredo has the overall responsibility in carrying out the DILG’s mandate.
“He has an undersecretary for peace and order and that is Undersecretary Rico Puno,” he said.
“Even the President himself pointed out that during the hostage taking crisis, it was Undersecretary Puno who was exercising direct coordination with the ground commander and with the PNP (Philippine National Police).
“And it was simply to clarify the responsibilities that were assigned to the officials concerned. And I think that just puts things in the proper perspective, I don’t think there is need to put more meaning beyond what has already been stated.”
Coloma released a “backgrounder” on Puno to show he was qualified for the job just like Robredo.
Coloma said it would be up to the critics to prove Robredo and Puno were indeed weak leaders as shown in the bungled negotiations during the hostage crisis.
“Well, let those who say that justify their own claim,” he said.
“The crisis may be viewed as an acid test of the capability of government’s institutions. But there is also another perspective, whoever says that hindsight is the clearest of all vision.
“We see a lot of things from hindsight. But in the heat of the moment or in the crucible of crisis, in the moment itself, I think it is also not that easy to be able to say that people or institutions will perform always according to their own expectations.
“Because there are many variables that are involved there. That is a very volatile situation, we all witnessed that the negotiation with the hostage-taker was taking place reasonably well until about 7:00 o’clock.
“So that is a total of nine hours. Within the first two hours, there was a release of nine hostages, which is a good number, and the crisis developed a dynamic of its own. I think it would be best for now to just allow the fact-finding process to bring out the real facts and we will improve on the basis of the findings. There is every willingness of the members of this administration to learn from the lessons of this crisis.”
Lawmakers said Robredo would have a hard time passing the Commission on Appointments, along with Coloma and Secretary Ricky Carandang. -
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star