PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd and his advisers are accountable for the Mamasapano massacre and they are duty-bound to give a “full and satisfactory accounting” of the incident to the people, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Monday.
The group branded as “immoral” government efforts to hide the truth behind the bloody incident.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the concealing of truth or the foisting of deliberate falsehood, even to shield one’s superiors from embarrassment or to spare them indictment, is always a moral wrong, especially in the context of legal processes and testifying under oath.
“We therefore urge all witnesses and all those in possession of information material to the resolution of facts in this issue to speak the truth at all times,” he added.
Villegas finds it hard to believe that members of the Special Action Force (SAF) can operate on their own.
“The decision to go after these high-value targets was made [at]the highest levels. The only thing that was awaited was ‘the window of opportunity,’ a judgment that is made by people on the ground,” the prelate said.
Villegas noted that a lot of questions need truthful answers to give justice to the death of the 44 SAF commandos and those from the rebels’ side.
“Why, for one, were the highest-ranking official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and his civilian superior, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government [DILG], left out of the loop of information, consultation and command?” the bishop asked.
He also noted how resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima could have played more than an advisory role.
“Was he giving orders? And if he was in fact issuing orders and commands, should it not be clear that his authority to do so, precisely because he was laboring under a legitimate order of suspension, emanated from higher levels?” Villegas further asked.
The PNP, Department of Justice (DoJ), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and concerned committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives have conducted investigations of the Mamasapano incident.
Only the AFP has finished its probe, claiming that the military committed no lapses even as it failed to save the lives of the SAF commandos.
But Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th also on Monday said the President may be responsible for the police operation but he cannot be held liable for it.
Trillanes added that the liability falls on the commanders on the ground because they are the ones in charge of planning and coordinating with other security units.
“That’s how it works and we should not bend the issue because it will only worsen the situation,” the senator said.
A survey conducted by Laylo Research Strategies showed that at least half of adults in Metro Manila believe that Aquino and resigned PNP chief Purisima should be held accountable for the Mamasapano tragedy.
Based on the survey that was conducted from February 6 to 9 that was commissioned by The Manila Times on the Mamasapano incident, 48 percent of the respondents are convinced that Aquino should be held liable while at least 53 percent believe that Purisima should be held accountable for the botched operation.