Reaction Paper: Board of Inquiry Report on Mamasapano

The whole country is divided again after the Draft of the report from the Board of Inquiry in Mamasapano Incident was aired on National TV.  Demonstrators flooded the streets asking the President to resign after Senator Grace Poe (Chairperson of Senate Probe on Mamasapano) stated that the President is the ultimate responsible on the death  of  SAF 44.

My reaction would be, wait! It is still the DRAFT, only few among the Board have signed it yet because some of them, upon reviewing, have objections with the result summarized in the Report. Let us not conclude yet.

Although the report boils down to one thing, I do not think it is "lack of coordination" the best way to describe it is "wrong coordination".  I have said that because there is coordination indeed!  The "Oplan Exodus" (Marwan and Uzman as targets, int'l. terrorists) was planned ahead of time as early as April 2014. I remember it was mentioned in a news report that the President has given orders to then RELIEVED PNP Chief Allan Purisima as early as January 16 (January 25 Mamasapano Encounter) - there, the President did not fail to advise Gen. Allan Purisima to coordinate with the AFP with regards to the plan but maybe has FAILED to coordinate with the acting PNP Chief Leonardo Espina (the President has done this maybe on the basis that the whole project was started and planned with Purisima who has whole knowledge of it from its formulation, remember Purisima was just relieved on duty Dec. 19, 2014).  But as per Senator Miriam Santiago's lawful point, the Ombudsman's order was contempt - that it was not implemented knowing that the definition of a relieved government official is that - he shall not exercise his functions in the office  while under the suspension. The question I have in mind is that, "Had Purisima coordinated with the AFP as instructed as early as he was told by the President?". I think we have no right in asking him to do that because he should not be doing what he was refrained to do while under a government sanction.  

It was also said in the BOI Draft Report that the acting PNP Chief Espina was bypassed, I believe that it is true. Since instead of Leonardo Espina should have been informed being in the position at that time, Purisima who is on a preventive suspension from duty were given the instructions.  Is this also implying that since Purisima is not in the position and have no authority he was ignored by the AFP or PNP (or to himself he is thinking twice he might not be entertained? But the fact that the SAF troopers were sent and are there on the day of the mission - it is far from a YES. Does it meant that the sole executive power of the President was used to power-up the operation?

What we are talking about is the Inquiry why the death toll reached 44 when it could have been prevented had the authorities acted swiftly.  The fact, according to reports, that three hundred (300) SAF reinforcement is just lounging in the area and have not done anything to help - but others said that it is beyond the PNP's duties (fighting armed rebels are for AFP) only to police matters such as terrorist and bomb experts are their duties.  It just happened that the "hunt" for the imported terrorists had gone far that the local rebels in the area got alarmed - again, because the "Exodus Plan" was not coordinated at least with the MILF community (who also joined the BIFFs in killing the trapped Fallen 44).  I have not mentioned coordination with BIFF because they do not seem to have talks with the government about peace negotiations and knowing they are the rebellious former members of MILF they may not really be placated.  I said on my firsts reaction papers that - the two groups have thought that they are the target of the operation and that like other Filipinos, I am in doubt too that one (or maybe two) of the groups is coddling Marwan and Uzman - impossible that high profile terrorist are not recognized and these terrorist of all places, have decided to live near the vicinity of their camps in the former huts of MILF commanders as interviews on the residents were conducted.  Still left confused up to now...According to MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal - the reason that MILF has used arms is that the incident happened in the dawn, darkness hide who the real strangers (SAF) in their area that is why he is calling it a mis-encounter. To think that when a wife of SAF called and was answered by one of the now dead trooper around 11 in the morning - is it not bright enough to recognize them by the attackers on that day time?

Around 7:15 in the moring the AFP, PNP panels are exchanging discourses. By 7:28 am  actions were taken. Deputy commander SAF - asked by the AFP brigade commander to give briefing with regards to the ongoing SAF Operation, from there plan of reinforcement was made 9:20am army arrived. From 1:30 to 2:30pm no more response received from the trapped troop, they maybe all dead that moment.  

AFP Gen. Catapang 5:37 am was informed about the operation he is not aware of . Around 7:31 am MILF was in-the-know that Government troops are in the area that CEASEFIRE must be called upon. But ceasefire happened just around 4pm (commander of MILF 105th knew of the SAF real operation in the area) why it took so long, 10-11hrs. - collapse of communication as Iqbal is saying and that is why it is hard to stop a "the midst of existing heavy fight". Coordination between the MILF and the government side was attempted but not implemented as noted by Sen. Marcos in the hearing. I agree because if only it was, there should have been fewer casualties.

That is why many has doubted the sincerity of MILF on peace talks but it is maybe easier said than done if we were in their position too - I think nobody can go straight to the "war zone" while it's on peak, all they can do is to try communicating but they failed to contact them - possible because of the noise of heavy firing or equipment fault.  I am not on the MILF side, just trying to rationalize their reasons. Again, if they were informed ahead of time before the "planned date" - maybe, maybe a different thing happened. We can not blame the government too if they had refused to coordinate with the MILFs earlier - this maybe (just my speculation) because the government has a little (like 10%) fear that Marwan, Uzman and the MILFs sharing the same faith, might somehow leak the plan, if not Iqbal (who seemed really serious on his advocacy on peace negotiations) anybody in the group who has ill feelings towards negotiations can be a traitor.

Another question in my mind is that the two groups seemed to have felt unspoken agreement to both attack the government's troupe that was in the middle of each's territories  on January 25 (as seen on the sketch of BIFF's and MILF's territories and SAF's position in the crime scene on news reports at ABS-CBN), and did not have killed one another BUT the SAF troopers became their sole target.  That is just maybe one more thing I  favored in the Report Draft - that it is NOT  a misencounter but a massacre as Senator Poe (BOI Chair) has mentioned on TV. According to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, there are several rebel groups in the area and the moment that they have seen a "stranger" set foot on their territory they fight in unison without a word to put them away, PINTAKASI (Bayanihan) as it was called. Mohagher Iqbal have also strongly asserted that they do not harbor the terrorist - Marwan and Uzman and they are residing in the area beyond their control (and on the sketch shown on tv the huts are located at far back of the BIFF's territory)

I am deeply analyzing the BOI Draft Report (as heard on TV) and the encounter as well as the hearings (from various news reports) that have provided me those conclusions and some unanswered queries up to now...

Calling the President "ultimate responsible" for the massacre is somewhat motivating people to rally  without any considerations on our economy, if demonstrations are everywhere and the Aquino Government was criticized in public, are we hoping that prospective investors would still come over to have their businesses (that would give employment opportunities to our fellow countrymen) establish here in our country?

We can be emotional, because we are humans but do not let emotions rule over us. Impeaching the President, who is better than him? Are we sure we will be replacing him with the better? He has just two hundred plus days left on his seat...President Aquino has spoken of his conscience that will haunt him until the last of his breath on one of his speech engagements. That is heavier than we thought it could be. He has his mistake, the only thing he is forgetting is to admit it publicly to pacify us. He has helped the orphans (financially etc) of the SAF 44 as well as the other NGOs and the Vice President - not to pay for their lost but somehow to alleviate their hardships and doubts on the SAF families' future.  Aquino administration has also launched attacks to go after the armed rebels and further investigation of the MILFs involvement are also ongoing - that brave order must be commended.

We can not bring the SAF 44 back but maybe we can improve the existing system/coordination of the AFP, PNP and every public servants must be reminded of their limitations and duties/sanctions as not to repeat history of the SAF 44.  Let us criticize constructively if we mean to give better solution to the existing problems of our country.

And another lesson here is PROPER/CLEAR communication. Mamasapano incident has proven to us that COMMUNICATION plays a vital role in our existence and that misleading "links" may cost lives.  The words used, the method or way an important message is made known/conveyed signifies it's urgency (the texting of Purisima and the authorities really annoyed the netizens, as if nothing needs immediate attention). All of us must learn from it.

These are all my personal reactions representing an ordinary Filipino citizen who is concern with the issues surrounding our country.



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Here's one of the BOI Senate Probe Link:
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Family, Daily Living & Style by Angelita Galiza-Madera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.