Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Since when is an apology a political trap?

Mea culpa or mortification in the language of Communicators, is one strategy towards recovery in an event of a PR crisis. Sometimes, it is best to convey this especially if the issue involves the loss of lives. This is being held as an effective tool in mitigating the effects of a crisis. In cases where emotions are high over a perceived serious consequence of an action, communicators normally counsel their clients to admit responsibility and seek mortification. Fact is, it is included in William Benoit's model for image restoration after a PR crisis.

In the case of President Benign S. Aquino III, I cannot simply understand why he is being prevailed upon by his political allies, particularly Senators Antonio Trillions IV and Bam Aquino not to express his sadness and seek for mortification on the Mamasapano massacre.

For one, Aquino is not legally liable for his actions since he did it during the time as Commander in Chief. Admit that there were operational lapses yet those lapses were not committed by Aquino but by a subordinate, if one is to believe the various reports. Can he be held legally responsible for the deaths of the 44 SAF commandos? No. Why? Because it was ascertained that they died due to the non-observance of established protocols.

I was fortunate to have talked with several experts in this field (I talked with a General and a PMAer) and honestly, Getulio Napenas committed several infractions among which is the lack of an exit strategy in the event of a clash. It was held in the Mamasapano report that there was only one exit--which was the way where the SAF commandos entered. The basic SOP especially among operatives is one will not go the way he entered the place of operations. In the SAF case, the troopers tried to escape thru the riverine route which they initially used to enter the MILF camp. They should have considered another route for escape and exit. Fault this with the lack of appreciation of the terrain, which should have been easily remedied by studying aerial maps.

Of course, this does not answer the penultimate question as to why there were no reinforcements made or why Aquino and his peace advisers failed to communicate to their counterparts for the cessation of hostilities. That is another matter altogether.

Insofar as liability in the operational execution of the plan, Aquino is not entirely at fault since based again on the report, Napenas did not execute it the way it should have been executed.

An apology from Aquino is the best ending or closure so to speak, about this matter. It is highly unlikely that shortly after his apology, groups out to get his head would heighten their campaign against Aquino.

Fact is, a mortification would surely disarm these groups because the emotional aspect of this crisis would severely be eradicated. What Aquino lost was his higher moral ascendancy. A mortifying event could afford him a way to regain this.