PGTW: Hari ng sablay

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 February 2015, Thursday

Hari ng sablay

Is it just miscommunication, or were there actual missteps in President Benigno Aquino III’s responses to the Fallen 44 incident?

It’s a question that comes to mind after hearing the speeches he delivered before and after citizens’ outrage about his off-kilter responses to the deaths of the 44 SAF troopers.

In the eulogy he gave at the necrological service for the fallen soldiers, to which he arrived late, he referred to his father’s (former senator Ninoy Aquino) death by assassination. It gave some the impression that he was downplaying the deaths of the troopers.

His message to the SAF commandos again referred to his father’s death and an ambush in which he (the President) was injured. The speech was greeted with stony silence, even when Aquino urged the assembled troopers to speak.

The constant references to his family irked many. People are tired of that by now. That’s been milked for all it’s worth,

After negative public comments on social media, Aquino again took to television to air yet another message. This one was better crafted, with hardly any mentions of himself or his family.

One of the lines was: “Ako ang ama ng bayan, at 44 sa aking mga anak ang nasawi” (I am the father of the country, and 44 of my children were slain.)

However, with the timing what it was, this speech came across as a form of damage control – insincere and manipulative, seeking to placate the public. It came too late.

It also seemed to crib from the message (released on the Internet before Aquino’s TV appearance) of Jordan’s King Abdullah, dubbed “the warrior king” to the terrorist forces of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), where he referred to a slain Jordanian as his “dear son” and a “martyr.”

After IS burned a Jordanian airman alive in a cage and released the gruesome footage to the world, the king issued this wrathful declaration:

“The blood of martyr Muath al-Kaseasbeh will not be in vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe.”

He had also told US lawmakers that Jordan would fight IS until they ran “out of fuel and bullets.”

Nor was it an empty boast. Soon after, a Jordanian airstrike killed 55 IS militants. Nor did the pressure let up. Since then there have been more air raids launched by Jordan, with a ground strike planned in coordination with other countries.

Jordan’s Queen Rania marched in protest along the capital Amman’s streets holding a photograph of the executed pilot. She also spoke against IS at the recent Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

That was their response to one murdered Jordanian. One. Forty-four SAF troops were executed, mutilated, and robbed by armed rebels. What is our President’s response?

Our President is also a king  – the hari ng sablay, the king of missteps and near-misses, someone who tries but fails to hit the target.

A definition of “hari ng sablay” on the Internet, posted by mgirl88, is “a guy who never quite gets it right, who has the best intentions, but is always off-center with everything.”

Another sablay incident happened at the recent funeral in Catanduanes of the SAF’s “last man standing,” Max Jim Tria.

Tria’s father, according to a news item, was said to have at first refused to have the President’s wreath placed by the home’s entrance, but acquiesced after someone from the Presidential Management Staff said she was “just following orders.”

At the burial site, the presidential wreath was “nowhere to be seen.” That’s what happens when something is forced upon someone who clearly said they didn’t want it. Sablay again.

How many more sablays will he make before he gets it right?


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