MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang yesterday gave itself an above-passing grade and expressed confidence that the Aquino administration is on the right track as its first 100 days winds down.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the administration is focused on poverty alleviation and the eradication of corruption.
“We are on track on those two levels. As you all know, we started our poverty alleviation programs. And on the eradication of corruption, we have been filing cases on a weekly basis with respect to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and the Bureau of Customs. So that is continuous,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the gauge of an administration should not just be on the first 100 days, which for the present Palace occupants runs through Oct. 8.
“The fruits of these things that we are doing will go beyond a hundred days and beyond 100 days, you will see what the Aquino administration has been doing (for) the poor, towards promotion of services for the public at large,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the Aquino government performed above the passing mark, but he admitted the Aug. 23 hostage fiasco at the Rizal Park in Manila that led to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage taker had stalled the administration’s momentum a bit.
“If you ask me, definitely, I will say... we are on track with our programs. We may have been sidelined a bit by the IIRC (incident investigation and review committee), but we are on track,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said he could not say what the most difficult trial for the administration had been so far.
“That is something... for the President to state. What I feel might be the most difficult may not be the most difficult for the President. So, it will be good for the President to say so,” Lacierda said.
Meanwhile, President Aquino said the report on the hostage crisis by the IIRC would be released next week.
Lacierda said the high-level delegation to Beijing and Hong Kong would present the report after the holidays in China that would end on Oct. 7.
The President is looking into the review of the IIRC report that he ordered Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa to do.
He said no one would be spared in the report and everyone found liable would have to face the law.
The Manila police chief earlier went on leave while five other police officers were relieved because of their hesitation and lapses during the assault on the tourist bus where dismissed policeman Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held the Hong Kong tourists hostage.
The IIRC had also recommended to Mr. Aquino the filing of appropriate charges against several government officials including Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, then Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Mendoza, who was dismissed from the police force last year for extortion, commandeered last Aug. 23 a Hong Thai Travel tourist bus in Intramuros and held hostage 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipino guides for several hours in front of the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park.
The suspect, armed with an M16 rifle and a pistol, had released several hostages before the SWAT team assaulted the bus resulting in the death of the hostage taker and eight tourists.
Police hostage negotiators said Mendoza turned violent due to frustrations after failing to get his demand to be reinstated to the police force.
Mendoza also started shooting the hostages when he saw through the television on board the bus, the live footage of his brother Senior Police Officer 2 Gregorio Mendoza being arrested.
Gregorio was accosted for failing to help in the negotiation.
Aurea Calica, Philippine Star