“We support the reopening of the reinvestigation of the Mamasapano incident with the objective of uncovering additional evidence on the role of the principal actors in the operation, most importantly Aquino, Purisima and the US government.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – As President Aquino himself expected, the tragic encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will haunt him towards the rest of his term, and even his life. Today, Jan. 25, on the first year commemoration of the tragedy, groups reiterated calls to make Aquino and the US government accountable for the botched military mission which killed more than 60 people, including government troops.
At the commemoration rite of the Mamasapano tragedy in Camp Crame, the President awarded posthumous Medal of Valor to two slain police commandoes, Senior Inspector Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron. In his speech, Aquino asked: “The question is: up to now, how come those responsible are yet to be held accountable?”
Outside Camp Crame’s Gate 2, protesters led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) gave him their answer.
“A year after Mamasapano, it is Aquino who needs to be held accountable,” said Bayan Secetary General Renato Reyes Jr. “President Aquino continues to insist that the bloody incident was anyone’s fault but his. He apparently attributes the tragic event to the actions of some erring police officials. He conveniently omitted his own role in the fiasco,” he said.
Various groups held protests today January 25, calling for justice for those slain: the 44
members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, and several civilians.
Youths led by the League of Filipino Students marched to Mendiola in Manila. In Cagayan de Oro city, LFS members and other groups held a protest at the Capitol grounds.
“To this day, truth and accountability remain elusive as the Aquino government has embarked on a massive and systematic cover up of the incident. Despite these attempts to hide the truth, several reports have already named Aquino as being ultimately responsible for the failed police operation,” said Reyes.
The secret mission “Oplan Exodus” brought 400 elite SAF men to Mamasapano to get terror suspects Malaysian Zulkifli bin hir, a.k.a. “Marwan” and Filipino Bassit Usman, who were both wanted by the US government, with a total bounty of $7 million.
The protesters welcomed the reopening of the Senate probe on Jan. 27, as Senator Juan Ponce Enrile claims he holds critical information about Aquino’s role in the operation.
“We support the reopening of the reinvestigation of the Mamasapano incident with the objective of uncovering additional evidence on the role of the principal actors in the operation, most importantly Aquino, Purisima and the US government,” Reyes said.
At least two civilians were killed in the botched operation. Sarah Panangulon, an eight-year- old girl, who was killed when SAF men fired at her home at dawn of Jan. 25. Her parents Tots and Samrah were wounded. Another victim, peasant Badrudin Langalan, 18, was found dead, hogtied and riddled with bullets near the Tukanalipao wooden bridge.
“As we remember the Aquino regime’s treachery against the Filipino people, we also call for justice for the civilians killed during the Mamasapano carnage,” said Tinay Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
Also considered a casualty in Mamasapano was the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was to be the governing law of the Bangsamoro political entity that had been agreed upon in the GPH-MILF peace talks.
“We must not forget how this reckless operation put in peril the peace negotiations with the MILF. Mid-way into the implementation of a peace agreement, Pres. Aquino approved military operations in a known stronghold of the MILF, without the latter’s knowledge,” said senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares.
“The discrimination and chauvinism versus the Moro people surged after the Mamasapano debacle. In fact it is partly to blame for the stagnation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress,” said Colmenares.
Reyes summed up the “six deadly sins” committed by the President when he gave the go-signal for Oplan Exodus:
1) Aquino violated the chain of command by putting his friend in charge of the operation, PNP Director Gen. Alan Purisima, in spite of his being suspended on corruption charges.
2) He violated the suspension order of the Ombudsman on Purisima.
3) He failed to inform PNP Officer-In-Charge, Deputy Director Gen. Leonardo Espina and Internal Affairs Secretary Mar Roxas, who were clueless about the operation, until the dead were being counted.
4) He failed to inform other cabinet officials and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
5) He failed to inform the government peace panel and the MILF, thus violating the ceasefire agreement.
6) Aquino allowed the participation of a foreign government in an internal operation. US military officials were present the whole time at the tactical command post in Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao, while a “tall, blond, blue-eyed Caucasian” was seen among the slain SAF men.