A DAY before the second anniversary of bungled Mamasapano operation, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday dogged the Aquino administration over the delayed justice for the 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) troopers killed in an encounter with Moro rebels.
In a speech delivered before the families of 39 slain SAF commandos held at the Palace's Heroes Hall, the President stressed that there was a violation committed when the past administration sent the elite police in an operation against high value targets.
Duterte said his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, fed the SAF troopers "to the lion's den to be eaten by death."
"I do not want to insult you but something really, really bad happened," Duterte said. "You have to answer to the nation, why did you send the police? What's so special about the police?"
On January 25, 2015, the SAF troopers launched a law enforcement operation against two high-value targets, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and terrorist Abdul Basit Usman, which resulted in a firefight with Moro rebels.
The encounter killed at least 67 people, including Marwan. Usman was later killed in another operation.
Duterte, however, questioned the operation, noting that SAF is merely tasked to "meet the challenges of urban terrorism."
"Why did you send the SAF when SAF is organized and geared into the service to meet the challenges of urban terrorism? Urban is urban," said Duterte.
"Why the police? Why not the army with artillery? If you want to arrest the criminal not urban-related, you have [to order the] military instead," he added.
The President also questioned Aquino's failure to complete its findings on the botched Mamasapano operation.
"I do not want to pick a fight at this time in my life but I want you to give a message that it happened during your time and there were a lot of investigation[s] at the lower house [of] the Congress, the Senate, and at your office... You could have completed the investigation," he said.
"You left many unanswered questions during the investigation... We [must] address the issues and find the reasons why [that happened], then, the family will get the justice. Otherwise, they will bring to their grave the hurt and agony that they have to endure losing a husband, a father or a brother."
It has been two years since the Mamasapano fiasco but the families are still crying for justice that are yet to be served by the government.
Guillermo Tria Jr., father of slain Senior Inspector Max Jim Ramirez Tria Luzon, was in pain that until now, the government is not able to fulfill their promises to bring justice and help the families of slain elite police.
John Aniban, father of killed Police Senior Inspector Cyrus Aniban, said someone should be held liable for "gross negligence and total disregard" over the deaths of SAF commandos.
"This must not be repeated again in the future," Aniban said.
Duterte then tasked Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa to thoroughly look into the Mamasapano case and submit to him the findings by the end of January.
"I'm asking Dela Rosa, study the matter very carefully... Look into it. Give me the results probably at the end of the month," he said.
Duterte also hit the Aquino administration for granting the medal of valor to only two slain SAF commandos.
Aniban requested the President to declare January 25 as the "national memorial day for the fallen SAF 44" so they would be able to commemorate the deaths of fallen heroes. (SunStar Philippines)