MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino defended yesterday Malacañang’s review of results of the official probe on the Aug. 23 hostage crisis, and said giving in to protests would be “a very flimsy reason to amend the courses of action we have decided upon.”
“The only thing we can do is to explain exactly how the decision was arrived at, what were the limitations we have under our system of government and also our laws,” Aquino said at a press briefing.
He was reacting to complaints, particularly in Hong Kong, sparked by the Palace legal team’s review of the findings of the Department of Justice-led incident investigation and review committee (IIRC) regarding the hostage incident.
In the Palace’s review, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Undersecretary Rico Puno, and retired police chief Jesus Verzosa have been cleared of any liability in the hostage tragedy.
Those found liable – including Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim – have been recommended only for administrative sanctions. The IIRC was said to have included Robredo and Puno in its list of ranking officials recommended for harsher punishments.
“This (Palace’s findings) is not whimsical. We had a review of pertinent laws. We found, we tried to find whether said laws were applicable to the people accused of failing to do their duties and various other things. This is the sum total of the collective wisdom of everybody who participated in the review,” he said.
“We believe this is the proper course of action and this will be the one that will prosper,” he added.
In a statement, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Chief Executive Donald Tsang said they expected tougher sanctions against the officials found liable for the bungled operation to rescue the hostages.
Aquino said in the government’s crisis manual, the hostage incident was a “local crisis.”
“The idea when to transmit it to the national (level) was not clear in the manual that was existing at that point in time,” he said.
“Therefore, how could you blame people who would have advised? There was a portion that said the national crisis committee should have been on standby. Who was tasked to activate that? Who was empowered to take it away from the local crisis management committee?”
Aurea Calica, Philippine Star