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Saturday July 21, 2018

Mongaya: Seek the truth

LET us mourn the death of our heroes. Let us call for justice. Let us seek the truth.

The deaths of 44 elite police commandos in an encounter with MILF and BIFF forces opened the gates for war talk and cries for vengeance. I am afraid Malacañang will adopt this position if only to evade answering questions like who gave the go-signal and why was suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima on top of the failed operation.

Yes, we have our own mouthful of questions focusing on the MILF and BIFF side. Like why could both have big camps so close to each other? Why the MILF tolerated BIFF coddling of the terrorist wanted by even the US government? Why the MILF did not stop shooting when it was certain that they cornered police commandos, not an AFP unit? Why the MILF did not stop shooting when an urgent call for a ceasefire was coursed through
the peace negotiators?

These questions, along with the age-old bias against Muslims, have blinded some to questions that remain unanswered on the SAF side.

I could not reconcile talks about how our SAF are trained and go about conducting an operation with what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Based on the newspaper accounts, we gathered that the SAF caught Marwan along with the MILF and BIFF forces with their pants down because the operation was conducted at dawn.

However, the MILF and BIFF forces were able to organize quickly. The MILF pinned down a large retreating SAF force at a corn field. The BIFF, on the other hand, ambushed another SAF force in a separate encounter.

How could our elite police commandos make their stand against the heavily-armed MILF
on a corn field? How could they move unaware into a BIFF ambush position? Didn’t they know beforehand the strength, positions, and moraale of the MILF and BIFF before they went in? Didn’t they study beforehand the terrain using all the modern technology available today and thus elude the enemy?

Did our elite Special Action Force possess enough intel on the enemy and the terrain before they went in? Were they adequately prepared when the ground commander deliberately did not inform the MILF or the peace negotiators along with the AFP forces on the ground?

I can understand the police mistrust of the MILF. But did they mistrust too the AFP?

All the accounts tell us that they didn’t know enough of the enemy forces and the terrain. They also knew they were going in without immediate reinforcements. Still, somebody gave the go-signal. Was this the ground commander? Was it Purisima? Or did the go-signal come from President Aquino, who reportedly was already in Zamboanga, so eager to claim the limelight in case the operation succeeded?

***

Most of the newspaper accounts did not take into account the psychological impact of a $6-million reward for Marwan’s head. But friends in Cotabato are telling me nothing major happens in Muslim Mindanao (whether successful or botched) without money considerations.

Well, one early news item mentioned the role of FBI agents paying an amount to a mole inside the MILF for the confirmation of Marwan’s presence. Duna diay MI nga nakawawart. Should we believe that at the level of the SAF commanders, nobody thought about how to share the reward money? Is it possible that not sharing the reward was a consideration in keeping the AFP blind of the operation? That the AFP dragged its foot in reinforcing the beleaguered SAF because it felt left out?

Now that we’re talking about the reward money, the commandos actually killed Marwan. Who will now get a share of the reward? I suggest the families of the 44 fallen heroes should be the beneficiaries, not the palpak commanders.

***

Somebody in Maghisgot Kita’g Politika, Bay, a Facebook community that I administer with Ka Bino, raised the regime change agenda considering President Aquino’s recent missteps, to say the least.

I, however, believe that it would be best for the country if we wait for 2016. Regime change now means putting in charge a discredited vice president because of corruption allegations. Look what happened when P-Noy placed the Samar faction (that’s Jojo Ochoa) and a PNP officer suspended for alleged corruption in charge of the SAF operation.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)


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