Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Presidential Chopper Crash--Who Said Anything About President Arroyo?

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde’s tirade on this representation when I raised a question on who ordered or authorized the flight of the Presidential helicopter which crashed in Ifugao seems to be an attempt to deliberately politicize a legitimate question on operational procedures and policies of civilian and military aviation. The question is relevant to the issue not just to determine the responsibility for the crash but also to prevent future incidents from happening again.

The Press Secretary accused this representation of “hitting below the belt” and allowing myself to be used as “a tool for dignifying text rumors” which insinuated that the use of the helicopter by the President’s son contributed to the crash of the helicopter.

I take offense at such statements of the Press Secretary which are completely out of line and baseless.

I was not aware of such rumors when I raised the question and neither have I even read it. As Vice Chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, I was perfectly within my scope of responsibility and concern when I raised the question of the flight’s orders and authorization. The Philippine Air Force lost an air asset and personnel, therefore this matter should not be taken lightly and looked into more extensively.

In addition, the fact that two Undersecretaries and personnel of the Presidential Management Staff were lost in a crash of a Presidential Aircraft should make it even more imperative for the matter to be fully investigated. It would be an injustice to the lives lost if this matter is swept under the rug.

It is common knowledge that flying out of Baguio at that time of the day is not advised. Whether it is a policy or just a practice needs to be determined. If it is a policy, then definitely it was violated. If it was just a practice, then it is time that we consider converting it to a policy. But it will not be determined if we do not take the issue into a full discussion.

The question of who ordered or authorized the flight is also borne from the fact that in the military, operations are always covered by orders, authorization or clearance. The pilots couldn’t have simply flown on their own decisions. There had to be someone in authority to order or allow the flight.

In addition, I am fully aware that the military structure strictly adheres to the principle of Chain of Command and that officers, such as the pilots of the ill-fated chopper, will only take orders from their immediate superiors. I do not believe that the President will short circuit that Chain of Command an micro-manage the flight of the chopper.

Never did I say nor insinuate that it was the President who ordered the flight. It was only Secretary Remonde who put words into my mouth when he said that “it is clear they’re trying to blame the President for it”. It is he who has dragged the name of the president into the matter. Not I. I urge him not to put words into my mouth because he is not my spokesperson.

By doing this, the Press Secretary turned a legitimate question into a political ploy. It is sad that he chose to ignore what the intention of the question is, which is to prevent future accidents, and turn it into a political controversy. It seems he is deliberately driving a wedge between this representation and the President, in order to rack up brownie points in the eyes of the President at the expense of those who died in the crash.

The Press Secretary must realize that not everyone is in the shoot-the-gun-and-damn-everything mindset and that there are those who are simply trying to do what is right. But if it will be the position of Malcanang to think that they have done the right thing by weeping and then simply forgetting about the whole thing , then I guess those who perished in the crash perished in vain.

1 comment:

Buddy Migs said...

I see it as a legitimate question to determine the circumstances
surrounding the incident.

ganun talaga ang mga taong may tinatago.. defensive.