During the hostage crisis at Luneta, a “command post” was set up at the Emerald Garden across the U.S. Embassy on Roxas Boulevard. When asked why Emerald Garden — an upscale Chinese restaurant — was chosen, it was because President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III liked the place. Emerald Garden is reputed to have the “best siopao in town.” Siopao is a bun filled with delicacies like chicken, pork, egg, Chinese sausage, and others. It can be made of big buns, small buns, steamed buns, baked or fried buns. They’re popular among Pinoys.
When I was still in the Philippines, I went to Ma Mon Luk Restaurant for the big buns. However, if I craved for the tastier small buns, I would go to Kowloon House. I suppose P-Noy prefers big buns cuz that’s what the Emerald Garden was famous for. Well, if Ex-prez Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had her Le Cirque Restaurant, P-Noy has his Emerald Garden. It all comes down to taste — Gloria has expensive taste in snails (escargot) and fish roe (caviar) while P-Noy has a taste for big buns (siopao).
Indeed, P-Noy is a man of simple tastes. He doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee, and he doesn’t smoke. Most women would call that “boring.” However, P-Noy is a gun enthusiast and loves to drive fast cars. Now, that’s what some women like in their men — driving at 200 kilometers an hour with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a loaded AR-16 assault rifle.
Had the Manila Police asked P-Noy to handle the hostage crisis himself, he probably would have shot the hostage-taker between the eyes from a vantage point 1,000 meters away on the roof of the Manila Hotel.
P-Noy was, in his own words, “napikon” (pissed off) when he found out that the Philippine National Police (PNP) did not use the Special Action Force (SAF) — as promised to him — to free the hostages. It turned out that PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa took off at 3:00 PM in the midst of the hostage-taking to attend to a “function” in Cagayan de Oro. He should be stripped of his four stars and demoted to corporal for abdicating his responsibility. The SAF is very “special” and a major, major outfit that it requires an order from Verzosa himself to be deployed.
I remember during Ex-prez Gloria’s time, whenever there was a mass protest or crisis, the 7,000-strong SAF would be deployed ready to mow down the protesters should they cross the battle line. The sight of thousands of helmeted policemen armed to the teeth in full battle regalia could be very intimidating. The SAF then was Gloria’s secret “weapon of mass demolition” against dissenters. As Mao Zedong once said, “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.” Yes, indeed.
But it must be Russia’s Czarina Catherine the Great that had inspired Gloria on the art of how to stay in power. Catherine had the knack for keeping her generals loyal… and happy. That’s why she was called, “Great.”
Like Catherine, Gloria made sure that her generals were happy and loyal to her. She appointed them to high-government positions after they retired from the armed forces. And the most “loyal” of them were given plum ambassadorial posts. The test for “loyalty” was how fast they can draw their guns to protect her or keep her in power.
News of the Week…
“ Malacañang said President Benigno S. Aquino III as Chief Executive has power of, control and supervision over all departments and agencies in the Executive Branch, including the Philippine National Police.” Gee, I didn’t know that. I thought he was only elected to a ceremonial post like cutting ribbons and attending funerals.
To show who is the real boss, P-Noy said that “heads will roll” for the hostage-taking fiasco. So far, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo is the only one whose head is about to roll. Actually, the process has already started — Robredo has been put on probation as “acting secretary” only. But how about DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno who was directly and solely responsible for overseeing the PNP? As Robredo said, “I was not in the loop.” If so, shouldn’t Puno’s head be the first to roll? But Puno is P-Noy’s barkada and shooting buddy. Yup, they shoot paper targets together for recreation. But when the real shooting started during the hostage crisis, Puno hid behind the puno (tree).
During the Senate fact-finding investigation, Puno told the senators that he considered the hostage crisis a “local incident” so he didn’t pay any attention to it. Huh? The fact that most of the 25 hostages were Chinese from Hong Kong, wouldn’t that qualify it as an “international incident”? The Chinese government officials were so mad that they did not permit vice president Jojo Binay to go to Beijing to explain what happened and to personally apologize for the massacre of eight Chinese tourists. Well, I don’t think that would have been necessary cuz the bloodbath was reported on the international television networks.
Dyok of the Week…
“Malacañang said that P-Noy is not resigning despite his ‘admission’ over hostage crisis.” According to P-Noy’s spin meisters, “he made the admission in the ‘context’ that he is accountable to the Filipino people and is thus ultimately responsible for what happened because the buck stops with him.” Translation: The buck stops with P-Noy but it’s Jesse Robredo’s head that will roll. Poor Jesse, being “out of the loop” turned out to be a big joke… played on him.
Rumor of the week…
P-Noy dismissed rumors that outgoing PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa was being groomed as the next DILG Secretary to replace Robredo. However, P-Noy said, “There was a recommendation but I don’t think for secretary, if my memory serves me right.” Let me guess: Verzosa will be the next ambassador to China. It’s no wonder he went “awol” amid the hostage-taking. Yup, he didn’t want Chinese blood in his hands. Had that happened, the Chinese government would have declared him “persona non grata” when he presented his credentials in Beijing. Yup, they would have sent him back to Manila like a Peking duck.