PNoy on Mamasapano clash: PNP-SAF and military lacked coordination

3 years ago

The President also said, “Sigurado akong maaasahan natin yung MILF na tutulong magkaroon ng katarungan para sa mga troopers natin.”

“Bilang pangulo, ama ng bayan, malungkot isiping kailangang magbuwis ng buhay ng ating kapulisan sa misyong ito.  Kung merong depinisyon ang bayani, sila na yun, silang mga humarap sa panganib upang pigilan ang banta.”

This was what President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said at the start of his Wednesday, January 28, speech on the “misencounter” between the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the municipality of Mamasapano in Maguindanao.

The President has declared Friday, January 30, as a National Day of Mourning for the fallen elite cops.

Crucial questions

Aquino then admitted, “Gaya ng marami, may mga katanungan ako sa insidente, kaya inaasahan nating mahahanap ng Board of Inquiry ang katotohanan.”

The PNP is now forming a Board of Inquiry that will investigate the incident. The said board will be headed by the acting PNP Chief Deputy Director Leonardo Espina.

Necessary action

The operation last Sunday, January 25, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao targeted two international terrorists associated with Jemaah Islamiyah—Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” and Basit Usman. The US had offered a $5 million bounty for Marwan and $1 million for Usman.

Aquino said that when the PNP learned of Marwan and Usman’s location, they decided to act and serve arrest warrants against them.

He stated that it was necessary for them to act right then and there. “Kung hindi aaksyunan, maaring makatakas sila,” he said about Marwan and Usman.

Aquino added, “Hindi sa bawat pagkakataon ay hinihingi ang tulong ko dahil impraktikal hintayin ang clearance mula sa akin.”

However, Aquino also said that “there was lack of coordination between PNP-SAF and the military in Maguindanao.”

 Bloody ‘misencounter’

The Mamasapano operation—which involved nearly 400 PNP-SAF members—took a bloody turn. Some 44 elite cops were killed, while 12 were wounded in clash against members of the MILF.

According to MILF chief peace negotiator Mohaquer Iqbal the bloody clash erupted due to “the lack of coordination between the police and the proper governing bodies.”

In an interview with dzMM, Iqbal said the police personnel should have first coordinated with the Ceasefire Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) before conducting their operation in the MILF-controlled area.

For his part, Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla—Philippine National Police officer-in-charge for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—the PNP-SAF informed the ARMM Police about the operation at around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday.  Then again, Armilla noted that the gun battle had already erupted at around 3 a.m. that day.

Chief Supt. Getulio Pascua Napeñas—head of the PNP-SAF—has been relieved from his post in the wake of what is being called “the bloodiest police operation in recent history.”

MILF assistance

In the question-and-answer session after his speech, Aquino stated that he “cannot accuse MILF of wrongdoing without facts. He urged the public to wait for results of investigation from Board of Inquiry.

“Sigurado ako maaasahan natin yung MILF na tutulong magkaroon ng katarungan para sa mga troopers natin,” he said.

Aquino also revealed, “This particular intel on Mamasapano, starting from May last year andyan na, ilang beses sinubukan pero na-abort for various reasons. Yung sa go-ahead, matagal nang may go-ahead.”

Bangsamoro Basic Law prioritized

Aquino made it clear that he does not want the Mamasapano encounter to derail the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“Iwasan na rin po sana ang lahat ng pagkakalat ng haka-haka ukol sa mga pangyayari. Sabi nga sa Bibliya, the truth shall set us free,” he said. “Mayroon nang nagsasamantala ng trahedya para mabawasan ang tiwala. Nais nilang mabigo ang proseso ng pangkapayapaan.”

Aquino likewise pointed out: “Malayo na po ng ating narating tungo sa kapayapaang matagal na nating minimithi para sa Mindanao.”