Rebutting Ramon Tulfo and other apology seekers
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-08-30
Following the demands of the victims of the Hong Kong hostage crisis for justice, a national apology and compensation — the Inquirer’s Ramon Tulfo said a mouthful in his August 25th column. Patriotic Filipinos should challenge the false premises of Tulfo’s conclusion that our country should apologize to Hong Kong. 

Tulfo wrote: “What would the President or the Philippines have lost if he apologized to the families of the victims of the bungled hostage rescue at the Luneta a year ago?

It wouldn’t have made him less of a man if he issued a formal apology.

It wouldn’t have lessened the government’s dignity if it apologized.

On the contrary, the President — as well as the country — would have stood seven feet tall in the eyes of the world if he apologized to the Hong Kong people, in general, and to the victims’ families, in particular.

Apologizing for one’s mistake is a sign of humility.

Humility is a virtue of great men, which the President apparently is not.”

A consistent critic of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), Tulfo’s negative attitude towards the president may have led him to forget that a nation does not apologize when there’s no justification for it. Tulfo had also overlooked that we’re dealing here with China and we cannot afford to send China a signal that we’re spineless cowards who’ll kowtow when they demonstrate displeasure. China has been trying to bully us out of the oil-rich Spratlys.

On the same August 25th Inquirer issue, Randy David wrote the very anti-thesis of what Tulfo had asserted. Randy expertly explained why the Philippines should not apologize to Hong Kong or China.

Randy wrote: “Something is not quite right about these demands. Never mind that their tone is arrogant. But, they also suggest that Philippine authorities have done nothing to express sympathy and solidarity with the victims of this unfortunate incident. They paint a picture of official indifference and callousness, of a government that is ignorant of its functions, and of a country that is unconcerned about its relations with other nations. This is far from the truth.

Manifestations of sympathy and regret, both from government and the private sector, over this shocking incident poured instantly. The Manila police received the most scathing criticisms from the Filipino public itself. No institution in recent memory has ever been so mocked and humiliated. A transparent and free media reported everything they considered newsworthy, completely unmindful of the damage such openness could do to the country’s image.

The government quickly launched a comprehensive investigation of the incident to pinpoint lapses in the handling of the hostage-taking incident, as well as to assign responsibility and culpability. The inquiry was broadcast live on national television, and was concluded in record time. A number of high-ranking officials were recommended for sanctions. Some of the charges were dismissed or downgraded in accordance with due process.

The Aquino administration, which assumed the reins of government barely two months before the incident, offered to dispatch a top delegation to China to offer its sympathies and to explain what happened. Unfortunately, the official delegation could not be received. But before the year ended, the tourism secretary went to Hong Kong to reiterate the Filipino nation’s sympathies, as well as to offer financial assistance to the victims and their families. Except for the kin of one of the victims, the rest of the affected families graciously accepted the government’s gesture.”

Tulfo further wrote: “Clearly, the country owed Hong Kong an apology for the deaths of its eight residents who were visiting the country as tourists.

It’s the duty of a host country to safeguard the lives and property of its visitors, both tourists and expatriates.

In fact, more care should be given to visitors than to the locals because it’s good manners and a good business practice to pamper visitors.

The government was remiss in its duty in protecting the Hong Kong residents from dismissed police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

Instead of blaming the “deranged gunman,” as P-Noy described Mendoza, our President would have earned praises if he took full responsibility for the botched hostage rescue.

Apparently, President Noy hasn’t come across former US President Harry Truman’s words: “The buck stops here (White House).”

Tulfo shot himself in the foot with these assertions. If a US, French or British administration ever adopts a policy of giving their country visitors more care than what their citizens get, they’ll be booted out of office. Tulfo’s suggestion of more care for visitors reflects Third World loser mentality.

Tulfo had mistakenly assumed that P-Noy had a personal aversion to making an apology. He failed to see that a president representing over 90 million Filipinos shouldn’t issue an official apology when there’s no justification for it. Apologizing to Hong Kong under these conditions would have further demeaned — not redeemed — us.

We’ve a different justice system from China and you wouldn’t want to live under their justice system. It’s even harder to get an apology from China. As to their demand for compensation, well, maybe, that’s what this is really all about.

Let’s not be the first to put our country down.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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