The second address to the nation about the Mamasapano incident by President B.S. Aquino last Friday was more of the same glib BS.
To the fallen 44’s relatives, the self-proclaimed “Father of the Nation” said he feels for them just as if he had lost 44 of his “children”. SAF Director Napenas is being set up as the definitive fall guy in keeping with Aquino’s habit of blaming everyone else but himself and his inner circle for any failures in his administration. Aquino accepts the resignation of suspended PNP Director Purisima, Aquino’s BFF (best friend forever), for reasons known only to him.
Aquino vows to get Usman (the other “terrorist” that got away) and cajoles the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to please help or at least “do not interfere” (as in, don’t shoot our police when they come after him). He then threatens the full might of the state against unspecified groups “who have lost their way”, presumably the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), in a bid to satisfy those whose idea of justice is to get even through “all-out war”.
At the outset and in conclusion Aquino plays the “peace” card. The SAF commandoes attacked the MILF stronghold to achieve “peace”. (No, they were not just serving warrants of arrest for Marwan and Usman.) Aquino considers the MILF “brothers on the path to peace”. (Too bad the ceasefire agreement integral to the GPH-MILF peace talks was breached by the Marwan operation, unleashing untold deleterious consequences on the peace process). And a “widespread and lasting peace” should be the primary focus of one and all. (Truth, accountability and justice are all secondary or perhaps even irrelevant.)
Aquino takes pains to paint Marwan as an extremely evil and dangerous man, wanted by both Indonesian and Philippine governments for mass bombings and for leading an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group in the region. The description of Marwan as the alleged “Bin Laden of Asia” or Southeast Asia is exaggerated media hype; such is not what is stated even in FBI dossiers.
In fact there is no conclusive evidence till now that Marwan, Jemaah Islamiya, the ASG or any Moro/Islamic “terrorists” are behind the bombings in Mindanao and the National Capital Region. Let’s not forget the US fellow Meiring who accidentally set off a bomb in his hotel room in Davao but was whisked out of the country by US authorities beyond any investigation by local police. Let us also call to mind the Magdalo mutineers who pointed to their superiors as having ordered them to throw grenades at public places and implicated then AFP Chief Angelo Reyes and ISAFP head Victor Corpuz in the insidious plots to sow mayhem.
Based on a mere FBI certification (which the public, by the way, cannot independently verify) that DNA tests indicate it is Marwan the SAF commandoes had killed in their assault, Aquino declares Oplan Wolverine a “triumph” albeit with a “heave price”. To many observers, it seemed a foregone conclusion that US lab tests would show the SAF teams got their man. A negative result would have meant the entire Marwan operation was an unmitigated failure.
But even assuming that the FBI claim is true, does one dead “terrorist” justify the illegal command by a suspended general; the unnecessary deaths of 44 SAF, 18 MILF, 2 BIFF and 6 civilians; and the outright violation of the ceasefire agreement between government and the MILF that had held without incident for the past two years?
Marwan’s supposed demise is being used in the same way Osama Bin Laden’s supposed death was used: to falsely claim that the world is safer from terrorism because of the US-led “war on terror”; to justify draconian anti-terror measures violative of people’s democratic and human rights; and to deodorize the atrocities perpetrated in the name of countering terrorism through imperialist wars of intervention, aggression and occupation.
Aquino crows that many lives have been saved because Marwan has been neutralized. The question begs to be asked, were many lives saved by the killing of Bin Laden (assuming that he is indeed dead if we believe the US claim hook, line and sinker)? Has “terrorism” ended with the killing of these leaders? Let us recall that in 2001, US troops joined the AFP in Balikatan war exercises directed against about 300 members of the homegrown Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The Philippine armed forces then said they had reduced the ASG to a few score men. Nowadays, authorities concede that the ASG appears to be continuously growing like the proverbial amoeba despite one counterterrorist campaign after another.
The truth is, in a bid to follow the orders of his US bosses to go after Marwan in this fatally flawed operation (also out of Aquino’s sheer incompetence, narrow-mindedness and arrogance) Aquino gambled the entire peace process with the MILF. Aquino is now scrambling to salvage what is left of efforts to legislate the Bangsamoro Basic Law that hangs on the brink of interminable delays if not potential defeat.
The Aquino regime is carrying on the policy and practice of the previous Arroyo regime of blind, uncritical support for the so-called war on terror and compliance with US dictates. This is not the first time the result has been at the expense of peace negotiations. In the case of the GPH peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the US designation of NDFP Chief Political Consultant and the CPP-NPA as “terrorists” with the full collaboration of the Arroyo regime resulted in years of delays in the talks until the end of the Arroyo term.
What is critical at this point is to unmask the continuing efforts to cover up the truth and evade accountability by: 1) fudging Aquino’s critical role in the bungled operation as Commander-in-Chief, particularly his criminal abuse of authority in disregarding the chain of command; 2) reducing the bloody fiasco to operational lapses and bad decisions of the commander-on-ground in order to shift the blame to him; 3) denying Purisima’s role as an illegal commander in order to shield Aquino and Purisima; 4) encouraging an anti-MILF hate campaign to also shift the blame on the MILF while making loud noises about wanting to push the peace process forward; 5) going through the motions of filing cases against the MILF and BIFF commanders to appease those who are crying for MILF and BIFF blood; 6) trying to appease the relatives of 44 SAF by means of financial assistance and false paeans to them as heroes; 7) continuing blackout regarding the US role in Oplan Wolverine; 8) claiming the Marwan kill with US complicity so that operation is not exposed as a complete failure.
Aquino and Purisima are both criminally liable. At the minimum, Aquino should resign while Purisima’s resignation should not allow him to escape criminal liability.
There must be no impunity for the Mamasapano bloodbath.
Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.
Published in Business World
February 8, 2015