SAF 44 – Tagaligtas
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincerest condolences and utmost gratitude on the families and loved ones of the slain SAF Troopers and the SAF Survivors. They have done our country and our people a great deed, sacrificing their lives for the sake of peace. Thank you for showing true public service, Mabuhay kayo!
Public service. Public trust. An elected government official, such as the President of the Republic of the Philippines, owes his mandate in office to the people who voted for him, or as President Noynoy Aquino would like to refer them as, his “boss.” This mandate, this trust given to him by 15,208,678 registered Filipino voters must be respected and honored, he owes this people to follow his mandate, do his job as the President of the Republic.
Then came Mamasapano and Alan Purisima.
BFFs Aquino and Purisima
The President and his best friend. The President and the PNP, no, former PNP Chief are thick as thieves and has been together ever since then Lieutenant Purisima of the PSG was assigned as a security detail to then Presidential Son, Noynoy Aquino. With all the mutiny and coup attempts, the life threats and close encounter with a certain death, it would be a no-brainer that these two will form a close bond of friendship. A bond and trust that even allegations of corruption, pending cases, suspension orders and 44 dead SAF Troopers cannot torn asunder. As evident by these disturbing news article: “PNoy: No regrets that Purisima supervised SAF operation.” This old article I unearthed is a fantasy – you (PNoy) keep wishing it is true but the glaring truth is quite the opposite: “PNP chief Purisima ‘still has moral ascendancy’ – Aquino”
Truly, I admire the President’s loyalty to his friend and comrade. I myself believe loyalty is an important trait we must look in the people around us. But what about his Excellency’s loyalty to his “bosses”, to the fifteen million Filipinos who voted for him to the rest who he leads? Which should come first, your loyalty to your friend or your loyalty to your office and your people? Mr. Aquino, public office is a public trust.
Who should be accountable?
Senators, experts on military and public policy all agree that there was mismanagement on the operation and the PNP chain of command was blatantly disregarded. Purisima was a suspended official since December 2014, thus has no right to maintain control and responsibility with the operations of PNP – now is in the hands of Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina. I don’t believe the President is not aware of this – he should be aware of this. Espina and SILG Mar Roxas both were un-informed of the SAF operation – Purisima and relieved SAF Director Getulio Napeñas claiming that key personnel, which also includes the AFP’s Generals in the Western Mindanao Command were to be informed “time-on-target” or as the operation is underway, to prevent leakage of the operation. Was that part of the operation questionable? It depends on the side you are on. But all arguments sets aside, our common sense dictate that if your superior is suspended, you should report to the next in line above you and not bypass them.
January 9, 2015, another meeting was held at Bahay Pangarap (the President’s residence) regarding the operation with Purisima and Napeñas, therefore raises MORE questions: Why would the President meet with a suspended police officer regarding an on-going operation wherein he should have no involvement anymore? Why did not the President asked for the presence of SILG Roxas and PNP OIC Espina to formalize the “briefing” and establish, maintain and adhere to the “chain-of-command?” Does the President and his best friends not trust Espina and Roxas with the information and not inform them of the operation? Protocols were violated, rules disregarded and lo behold, people, lives are lost and wasted. Yes, they may have secured their target the terrorist Marwan, but at what cost?
“You’re under preventive suspension and yet you were still dipping your finger in the pie. You were participating at none of your business at that time,” Sen. Miriam Santiago said to Purisima. My point exactly. More on that here.
Aquino, as commander-in-chief should be held liable to his decision in trusting a police office under preventive suspension – a decision that costs 44 lives. Purisima, knowing himself that he is in preventive suspension should be held liable for “dipping his fingers” in the figurative pie that is the Mamasapano Operation. Though Napeñas is also liable as he was the ground commander handling the operation, it seems as though concerned officials made him the “fall guy” and now pointing all the blame on the operation.
Imagine if the operation went smoothly, the President victorious in helping his best friend redeem his reputation and career that is beleaguered with controversy and corruption – they, best friends will be saviors, nay, heroes in the eyes of the people. If only they have thought of other’s lives more and not only themselves their supposed “glory.”
The Senate has ended their investigation “in aid of legislation” and we now await the report they will produce. It will outline accountability and will help our legislators in legislating laws that will prevent this disastrous event from happening again. The Board of Inquiry is also almost finished – with over 400 statements aiding their investigation. It has been a month since the event has happened. Families of the SAF 44 are awaiting justice for the lives of our fallen men. We await results – and hopefully, these results and accountability will not be as lame and useless as previous investigation on events that happened in this Administration.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
“Ah, lahat na lang ituro niyo sa SAF Commander? Forty-four men are dead and you’re all pointing fingers to the SAF Commander? Common sense dictates—sentido comon na lang ito eh, hindi naman siya ang pinakamataas eh. Sinong mas mataas sa kanya? Ang chief ng PNP, pero preventively suspended ka. Tapos ‘yung kapalit mo na acting chief, ayaw ninyong sabihan. Wala siyang kaalam-alam. Kaya sino lang ang nakaalam? Ikaw at si President Aquino.” – Senator Miriam Santiago to Resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima
“I gave advices, not orders.” – Resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima
“Nagluluksa po kami, we mourn with you but one injustice cannot solve another injustice.” – Senator Alan Cayetano in response to MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal after Iqbal presented a history of massacres involving Moro communities in Mindanao
“Talaga pong wala sa kanyang schedule ‘yan.” – PCOO Secretary Sonny Coloma, defending the President for his no-show on the arrival honors for the SAF 44
“As you all know, I’m the OIC of PNP, no doubt we are in the peace process because we are peacekeepers. Walang may gusto ng katahimikan kundi kami. Pero sir, we seek for clearance, sir. We seek for clear answers from the other party of the peace process. Ano ba itong overkill na ito na ginawa niyo sa mga tao ko?” – an emotional PNP OIC Leonardo Espina on what happened to his SAF Troopers