THE reaction of President BS Aquino 3rd and his ruling Liberal Party to the calls for the reopening of the Senate investigation into last year’s tragic Mamasapano Massacre is reprehensible and smacks of a criminal obstruction of justice. The Administration has already succeeded in stifling a proper investigation and accounting for the tragedy once; it must not be allowed to do so again.
In the weeks immediately following the slaughter of 44 police Special Action Force troopers at the hands of guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – the government’s supposed “partners” in the peace effort in Mindanao – and its erstwhile “breakaway” group, the BIFF, investigations were launched by the Philippine National Police and both Houses of Congress.
But when it became obvious that Aquino, and along with him, his anointed successor, then-DILG chief and now Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas, were clearly responsible for sacrificing the SAF 44 by intentionally withholding assistance for the outnumbered and outgunned troops from nearby military forces who could have reached the scene of the battle within minutes, every inquiry into the matter was stopped. The results of the PNP investigation were tersely acknowledged and then tossed aside with no further action; the inquiry by the House of Representatives simply faded and was quickly buried by Aquino’s congressional errand boys; and the Senate inquiry, which briefly showed some promise of revealing what really happened and who was to blame for it, stopped when Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who at the time still harbored pretensions of being the LP’s candidate for President, refused to submit her committee’s report to the plenary as required by Senate rules and custom.
Save for the firing of SAF commander General Getulio Napeñas, which was rather the result of the honorable general’s accepting command responsibility for the fiasco as a true officer and gentleman than it was an official finding that he was truly at fault, no one has ever been called to account.
Not the MILF and BIFF murderers, their supporters on the government’s “peace” panel who alleged urged the president to abandon the troops so as not to trouble the spurious bargain with the MILF.
Not the disgraced and suspended ex-chief of the PNP who was illegally put in charge of the entire operation by BS Aquino himself.
Not the DILG chief at the time, and as such second only to the President in authority over the police forces, who did nothing to save his men.
Not the President who bears ultimate responsibility for it all and who pushed the operation in order to claim credit for capturing or killing two notorious terrorists.
President Aquino and his congressional henchmen have dismissed the decision to re-examine the Mamasapano tragedy as a mere move to discredit him and his favorite Mr. Roxas. If that is indeed the case, and he and Mr. Roxas are truly blameless, then neither man should have anything to fear from a continuation of the investigation, and should instead want it to go forward in order to expose their political enemies’ supposed ulterior motives.
If that is not the case—and what is already known so far, along with the near-panicked reaction of the Liberal Party regime to an expanded investigation, strongly suggests it is not—then the only discredit Aquino, Roxas, and their cohorts will suffer is that which they have brought on themselves.
Whichever the case may be, the subversion of justice cannot be tolerated. At least not by the PNP-SAF 44 heroes’ widows and orphans. And not by the officers and men of the PNP and the military who were willing and ready to reinforce the besieged PNP-SAF commandoes but were virtually told to stand down.
We urge the Senate to stand firm against the dissent from Malacañang, and proceed with dispatch and thoroughness to finally bring this sad chapter in our history to a just and truthful resolution.