If there is one thing the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano clash at the Senate highlighted, it is that Filipinos are being led by public servants and armed troops, which includes the members of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, who are better at bickering and pointing fingers at each other than protecting the lives of the people under their watch.
We now know that some members of the PNP and AFP are unwilling to risk their own lives to save compatriots and comrades in trouble and are not sorry for it. This was evident in the Power Point presentation of the AFP that basically pinned the tragedy solely on former Special Action Force Chief Getulio Napeñas. They even showed a photo of him smiling and seemingly uncaring while his men were being slaughtered. But how do we know if the photo of Napenas with a group of men was taken on another date and not on the tragic day of the 25th of January 2015? Or how do we know if the photo was taken earlier in the day? There was no context provided. It is becoming apparent that some people are hell-bent on destroying Napenas.
The AFP’s presentation is reminiscent of the Liberal Party’s style of throwing mud at their opponent just to paint the other party in a bad light. Since the Senate hearing was not a real trial, there was no judge who could strike out the accusation against Napenas. But they want the public to forget that Napenas was simply following the orders of former PNP Chief Alan Purisima who headed the operation even while he was suspended at the time.
A year after the tragic deaths of 44 Special Action Force troops in the hands of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, no one is willing to take accountability for the tragedy. Meanwhile, the killers are most likely laughing at the spectacle in the Senate. That is, if they actually bothered to watch the proceedings. I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t because they were not the ones being investigated.
No one among the senators or those being grilled by the senators bothered to point out that the men who slaughtered the SAF troopers, the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are still at large and may never be brought to justice. This is thanks to the lack of motivation on the part of the Department of Justice to go after the perpetrators. This is seemingly in deference to the so-called peace agreement between the current Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
While the result of the recent hearing initiated by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had very little new information to offer, it still presented, a good opportunity to emphasize that it was President Benigno Simeon Aquino III who gave the go signal to proceed with Oplan Exodus – the operation to capture the international bombing terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir a.k.a. Marwan inside enemy territory in Mamasapano, Maguidanao. Granted, we all know that Enrile has an axe to grind. But Filipinos should support Enrile’s efforts to hold BS Aquino and his friend Purisima accountable for the deaths of 44 SAF troopers.
BS Aquino’s allies did their best to shield him from any blame but that was as expected. Senator Franklin Drilon’s and Antonio Trillanes’s behavior were predictable. Just like in previous hearings on issues that could implicate the President, they both acted like BS Aquino’s attack dogs as usual. Trillanes showed his skill in asking pointless questions directed at respondent Napenas. He also showed his expertise in rude interruption by cutting him off even before he could start talking. Trillanes probably thinks he looks smart by doing that but somebody ought to tell him that he’s just making a fool of himself. Thank goodness he is going to lose the Vice Presidential race in the next election. We should say good riddance to the convicted mutineer.
Enrile also showed how clueless former head of the Department of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas was as the tragic events unfolded. Roxas claimed that after he received information that the SAF troopers were under attack, he relayed the message to the President whose only response was “thank you”. Meaning, it was obvious that BS Aquino was not interested in the details because, one, he knew about the operation and, two, he was probably getting updates about the incident from Purisima too.
The fact that BS Aquino used a suspended PNP Chief to plan and execute Oplan Exodus should be enough to hold him criminally liable for the deaths of the SAF troopers. He broke the chain of command. If the President gets away with neglectful behavior that resulted in tragedy and loss of lives, this will lead to low morale and eventually erosion of patriotism.
Lack of patriotism is already evident now. This could be why the members of the PNP and AFP do not trust each other with sensitive information. That was the reason why the PNP did not want to involve the AFP at the beginning of the operation. Napenas said several operations in the past were aborted because it was compromised once the AFP was involved. He was implying that there is an informant working for the rebel groups inside the AFP. Now that is tragic, indeed.
[Thumbnail photo courtesy PhilStar.]