By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — “From all indications, the special operation in Mamasapano, Magindanao is a U.S. operation from the start. Of course the Aquino government won’t admit that because if they do, they would inadvertently confirm the US direct intervention.” This is the conclusion Prof. Roland Simbulan of UP Manila shared with the media at Thursday’s press conference of Save the Nation: Aquino Resign Movement.
Based on Simbulan’s study of what have been revealed by SAF survivors of the incident, the fact that it was a US operation, that it was illegal and the Aquino government and the US are trying to cover it up resulted in the high number of casualties.
US or any other foreign troops are explicitly barred by the Constitution from interfering with local affairs, having military bases here, and joining local combat operations. All of these have repeatedly been violated in the past, according to progressive groups — but so far, the latest and the most stirring of these violations for having killed so many Filipinos in one day was the Mamasapano.
Many aspects of the Mamasapano incident are now being covered up by the Aquino government because these violate the Constitution and as such are illegal, ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio said.
Take the violation of chain of command, along with the tasking as point person here of a suspended police chief and the use of PNP forces in bringing in an “enemy” who was targeted as such by the U.S. government.
“That (police) operation should not have been conducted, in the context of ongoing peace talks and the Bangsamoro Basic Law under consideration (at the time) in Congress,” Simbulan said.
He accused the U.S. of having used Filipinos (particularly the police force) as pawns in its so-called war on terror. ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio said there is also no legal cover in all of the treaties or “military agreements” concerning the conduct of joint operation in the country of one involving US troops and PNP forces.
The U.S. government has always sought to improve the “interoperability” of their elite forces and local forces because there are operations in which they would rather use (and put at risk) the lives of local forces, rather than its soldiers because piling up body bags result in anti-war protests in US mainland.
According to Simbulan, in the Mamasapano operation, the U.S. which has advanced ways of gathering intelligence must have known beforehand the operation would have a huge political repercussion. They must have known also of the high risk and probability of sustaining casualties. Which was why instead of conducting a surgical operation as they usually prefer to do, they operated jointly with local forces, Simbulan said.
Mamasapano is not just any area freely entered by the state troops, as according to Simbulan, even the Philippine Army fears to just enter the place.
What the Moro forces did when fully armed special action forces entered their territory without coordination was a defensive measure, Simbulan said. When an armed engagement occurred and the PNP-SAF were trapped, Simbulan said, he won’t be surprised if they were ordered to hold their ground. At the same time, he believes there may have been an order, too, disallowing other forces from coming in as reinforcement because that would have led to the immediate collapse of GPH-MILF peace talks.
“I think in the assessment of US intelligence, definitely many will die among their forces that’s why they used as pawns the local forces they themselves have trained,” Simbulan said.
“U.S. has drones. Their forces knew the men sent into Mamasapano were trapped — they didn’t do anything to save them even when they have the capability to do so, they did not deploy their units of elite forces (which are camped also in Mindanao). They also have armed drones,” Simbulan said.
Bolstering the conclusion that the Mamasapano operation was a US operation and it opted to use local police special action forces, with authorization of the president, are the information that the target was a US-identified target, the million-dollar bounty was put up by the US government, there were reported sightings of US special forces jointly working with the SAF (in fact, a TV interview reveals an account of one of the rescuers of SAF distinctly saying he was asked by the SAF if he were with the Joint operation with the US troops). And, there were also news of the US drone.
Despite the Aquino government’s attempts to coverup the U.S. involvement, accounts of the botched Mamasapano operation still revealed the U.S. hand, according to Simbulan. He asked, why did the police who succeeded in killing and cutting off the target’s hand (for identification) submitted it direct to US FBI?
“In the Mamasapano operation, it appears the Aquino government has behaved like a bounty hunter for the US government,” Simbulan said. He added that the Mamasapano incident should serve as eye opener to our soldiers and all our people in uniform. “They should ask themselves: whose side are we protecting, whose interests are we serving?”