Mere moments after news of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive by ISIS broke out, King Abdullah II announced over the state television that he would cut short his visit to the United States and immediately return to the capital city of Amman, despite the trip not being in his schedule.
In the same statement, he underscored “the martyrdom of the hero pilot,” Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh.
Meanwhile, army spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al Ameri, presumably under the orders of the head of the constitutional monarchy, vowed that the pilot’s blood “will not be shed in vain” and that their “punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians.”
The parallelisms between PNoy’s and King Abdullah’s handling of the two horrific incidents are too stark to be missed.
For one, the Jordanian pilot Kasasbeh was 26 years old, roughly the same age as many of the slain elite cops.
Like the SAF 44, Kasasbeh was also ruthlessly killed. In the video released by the extremist group, he is shown locked in a cage, his body engulfed by flames as life is snuffed out of his body.
And yet PNoy and Abdullah’s immediate reactions to the gruesome deaths are mind-blowingly light-years apart.
While the king wasted no time in heading to his home country despite having decidedly important meetings, and even ordering his chief of staff to personally call the family of the pilot to offer condolences, PNoy dawdled, putting off his official statement for days, and even snubbing the arrival honors at Villamor Airbase.
In addition, the king recognized the need to console the outraged Jordanians who have taken to the streets calling for revenge. On the other hand, Malacanang has been playing deaf and blind for days, downplaying the seething criticisms it had been receiving, and insisting that these only come from a “microscopic” number.
But there isn’t even a dearth of examples that PNoy may follow to better display—or perhaps even feign, if being sincere were too strong a demand for him—concern for his so-called “bosses.”
Just two weeks ago, Pope Francis earned the respect and admiration of Filipinos as he showed how his heart bled for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Ignoring other options, the humble Pontiff said Mass while wearing a raincoat in Leyte, and shunning security protocol, repeatedly had the Popemobile stopped to hug and kiss infants.
And while the Pope fever has waned in the Philippines due to the Mamasapano massacre, the Holy Father continues to show that Filipinos remain in his heart and mind.
In a letter revealed to the media only yesterday, the Pope sought the forgiveness of the Filipinos, in case he displayed any impatience during his visit to Leyte. He was deeply saddened, he said, because of the weather warning that forced them to anticipate their departure by four hours.
Pope Francis and King Abdullah II’s examples clearly illustrate how a leader must act towards the constituents. Frankly, what they, and so many other leaders in history, demonstrated, is not the application of some complex governance theory; it is basic compassion and recognition of our shared humanity.
Unfortunately, for PNoy, what is supposed to be a basic instinct seems to be an arduous, even impossible task. Unfortunately, for us, five years of office and countless blunders have failed to teach our president how to lead.