Legal Ignorance: So Not Bliss

It’s been almost two weeks since the hostage-taking incident, staged by former police officer Rolando Mendoza, at the Quirino Grandstand occurred. However, the issue is still far from losing attention. People are still waiting for its real conclusion while the police forces are still doing investigations. China is still waiting for a sound and believable result before allowing the Philippines’ high-level delegation to enter their country.

At the same time, the approval rating of Pres. Noynoy Aquino continues to go down. People have been criticizing his actions during the tragic day: not answering calls, seemingly hiding. People are saying that he could have done something so as not to lead the event to a tragic end.

For the last few days, I have been questioning those who are questioning the president as to what he could have possibly done in a military operation. Apparently, I have been wrong.

I have learned from high school that the President of the Republic of the Philippines is also recognized as the Commander-in-Chief of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But my opening lecture this morning on the Philippine Constitution this morning taught me what exactly being a commander-in-chief means. I was very wrong in my understanding as to how much power this vests on a person.

Maybe I was just too naive, but, apparently, Pres. Aquino could’ve simply talked to the hostage taker and try to have a compromise with him for the release of the hostages. It should not have been a wonder why the hostage-taker thought of the ombudsman’s letter as trash.

But I don’t have anything against Pres. Aquino. Maybe, like I was, he didn’t know how much power he had in his hands – which can be a good thing. In the first place, he did not want to be president. Or so he said. Just to quote my professor, “He knew it in himself that he was not ready to be president.”

Of course, Filipinos have that certain trait of being captivated by fame and judging people simply according to lineage.

I can’t blame, however, blame Pres. Aquino for not knowing the extent of his powers. Besides, it’s a given that he wasn’t able to do much while he was in the senate. Given that, we cannot possibly expect him to know more than enough.

One thing, though: he needs to do his homework.