P-Noy scores a slam dunk
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-09-14

With no thanks to the shortcomings of the Presidential Communications Group Messaging Secretary and his staff, President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) had to clarify the issues himself which sprung from the Manila Hostage Tragedy.

A competent Messaging Secretary of the Presidential Communications Group would have dispelled many of the lingering issues P-Noy had to clarify in last Thursday’s Harapan (Face Off) with news anchors from the top three TV networks — Mel Tiangco of the GMA Network, Ted Failon of ABS-CBN and Paolo Bediones of ABC-5.

Your Chair Wrecker along with political strategist Lito Banayo, now NFA (National Food Authority) Administrator, learned about the planned Harapan last Wednesday during a meeting we both attended at the Palace Heroes Hall Conference Room. We both had the same apprehension that P-Noy could be assuming several risks, such as:

1. He could appear to be pre-selling or attempting to influence the Justice Department’s investigation.

2. He could be reviving what is already an ebbing emotional issue which is criminal — not political — in nature and an isolated case which could happen in any major city worldwide.

Due to the shortcomings of the Messaging Secretary to anticipate and immediately address the issues that sprouted from the bungled hostage rescue, the incident developed fallout far worse than it should generate. The Messaging Secretary provides the message while the Dissemination Secretary provides the outlets for the message. The problem was the message and not the outlets.

PR expert Tony Chong provided a good perspective with quotes about two hostage crises in Russia from the TIME Magazine August 16, 2010 issue: “(Vladimir) Putin is lauded by many for ordering the violent end to the standoff with hostage-taking terrorists in a Moscow theater in 2002: 130 hostages died. Putin “deserves respect for being man enough to give the order to storm the building,” says Aleksey Filator, a retired Special Forces lieutenant colonel who runs an association of veterans of Alfa Group, Russia’s elite hostage-rescue unit. Putin likewise shook off criticism two years later when another hostage situation – in an elementary school in Beslan – ended with government forces charging into the premises, guns blazing: 334 hostages died, including 186 children.”

P-Noy proved that our concerns were unfounded. Thus, right after his press conference, your Chair Wrecker felt the compulsion to send P-Noy this text message: “P-Noy, I wasn’t sure if the Harapan was a good idea, that it could revive an already ebbing emotional issue. However, you performed splendidly. Like Ninoy, you are your best publicist.”

Less than 30 minutes later, P-Noy replied by text: “Thank you Prophet. Felt a deep need to answer.” P-Noy’s warrior instincts would not allow Messaging incompetence to unduly tarnish his image by permitting falsely premised criticisms to fester any longer. He faced two lions and a lioness and got his message across.

We don’t know if P-Noy’s mentioning the daring historic landings at Normandy during D-Day of World War II and at Inchon during the Korean War were intended to characterize his Harapan appearance. He practically assumed the same big risks which the planners of the D-Day and Inchon landings boldly took.

Lito Cruz, the right hand man of many years of RMN (Radio Mindanao Network) CEO Eric Canoy sent this text message: “P-Noy is the most eloquent President we’ve ever had. And I think he is brilliant and compassionate. Truly a man who loves this country. May God continue to guide him.”

Among the many issues that P-Noy dispelled during the Harapan were the following:

1. That he was on top of the situation as early as 11 a.m. but wisely resisted the temptation to assume a physical presence that could boost the morale of the hostage taker and even cause an increase of the hostage taker’s demands.

2. That he had full faith in the Crisis Team especially with former Police General, Manila Mayor Fred Lim heading it. Lim was a veteran of the coup attempts during the Cory Aquino administration and had successfully ended the earlier Ducat bus hostage taking incident without suffering any casualties. That the Crisis Team Handling was doing well until that point when the Ombudsman’s letter was presented and the brother of the hostage taker was apprehended.

3. That he was liaising with the Chinese Embassy, Foreign Affairs Secretary, the Police Director General and the Crisis Team all throughout the day and evening.

4. That he intentionally opted not to micro manage the crisis and stated solid reasons for not doing so.

ABS-CBN interviewed two so-called political analysts, Prospero de Vera and Malou Tiquia, to comment on P-Noy’s performance. Consistent with their anti-Noy pronouncements during the presidential campaign, they both saw it in a negative light — quite the opposite of the man-on-the street overwhelmingly positive feedback that the network’s DZMM anchors were getting by text messages and reading on air. The contrast between the comments of the two network resource persons and the public feedback makes us wonder if these two “experts” are in touch with political reality.

Political Analyst Ramon Casiple had the right perspective to the Manila Hostage Crisis when he stated that it is normal for P-Noy’s exceedingly high trust ratings to eventually go down but not necessarily due to the hostage crisis.

A P-Noy slam dunk it was when even the Opposition hardly countered.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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