Aquino messed up Mamasapano

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HAD President Benigno Aquino 3rd not compartmentalized and excluded the military from a police operation to get two terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, casualties in that tragic incident on January 25 could have been minimized, a former military commander in Mindanao said over the weekend.

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The former AFP official, who spent most of his career in the field in the South added that Aquino, during a briefing on Oplan Exodus in Malacanang, could have easily pulled rank as Commander in Chief in backing up the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) troops in their mission to get Malaysian bomber t Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan and his Filipino protégé, Abdul Basit Usman.

The retired general was referring to the January 9 meeting in Malacanang between Aquino, now-resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, Intelligence Group director Fernando Mendez and sacked SAF commander Getulio Napenas.

In the meeting, the three officials presented to the President a mission update and a “new concept of operations” for Oplan Exodus.

“Kung pinag-isipan lang na maigi, andali naman niyang [Aquino] i-impose na teka delikadong area yang papasukin ng SAF, isama natin dyan ang 6th ID [Infantry Division] at ang brigade commander para bukod sa ground troops, mayroon tayong air and artillery support kung ano man ang mangyari [If it was thought out carefully, Aquino could have imposed himself as Commander-in-Chief because it was dangerous territory that the SAF team was going to enter, so the 6th ID will have to be brought in, plus the brigade commander apart from ground troops, and air and artillery support should be available when the need arises],” the former military commander told The Manila Times in an interview.

He requested that his identity be temporarily withheld because he and other retired military and police officials are still conducting meetings and assessment on the tragic Mamasapano incident and the events that followed it.

“[The President should have sent for Maj. Gen. [Edmundo] Pangilinan], 6th ID commander, and the brigade commander and made to join the operation. The SAF commandos will be a back-up force and nobody should tell the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] that the operation will be launched. If it was done that way, the casualties would have been minimal],” the former general said.

Echoing an earlier statement of Jesus Dureza, former government peace panel chairman, the source said prior coordination was never required in the peace process against “high value, priority targets.”

The problem, he added, was Aquino made a priority the peace process over safety of his men.

“Look what had happened. The SAF men were poorly equipped. One report said they don’t even have [military]canteens. [They were very thirsty but they have nothing to drink water from]. If they were backed up by the military, it would not be that tragic. We would not be talking here of time on target. The PNP [Philippine National Police] and the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] would not be pointing fingers at each other,” according to the former military official.

Told that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin should have advised the President on this being a former military officer himself, he said, “Eh wala rin alam yan si Gazmin [Gazmin does not know anything].”

“They baby the MILF too much. That is why many are disgusted with the AFP, especially the foot soldiers. We have lost all the bargaining powers in the peace talks because caprices of the MILF are being taken seriously],” the former military official added.

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12 Comments

  1. I am a former military officer. Puro dakdak c Heneral ano kya nagawa nya hanggang naging heneral bkit dyan pa din problema sa Mindanao.
    Kung nag coordinate bka hindi nkuha c Marwan. ilan beses nag operate w/ AFP nagnenegative at me instance pa na hindi natuloy opns dhil umayaw AFP during DDay. But after a week inoperate ng Army same target hindi isinama SAF yon negative kya umabot sa TOT dhil nag nenegative pagme coordination.
    puro hindsight nlang mga maingay. puro sana ganito sana ganoon. Lets move forward what is important we got Marwan. Let get the other terrorist. let us learn from the mistakes. No more pointing fingers Let us give peace a chance. Let the Mamsapano open the hearts & mind of the politician to study ery well the BBL. Mabuhay ang Pilipino Mabuhay ang Pilipinas

  2. Roldan Guerrero on

    The real problem with the Aquino government is the lack of competence of almost all of his technocrats. His SOP is limited only to his KKKs disregarding that so many are around who are qualified to hold key positions that would help his regime deliver not only good but exemplary governance. However, it is a general rule for the intellectuals not to be under the command of a CEO who is below mediocre level. The late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, who is considered a legal genius used this basis to accumulate the best available and competent persons around him, being a legal genious in the field of law, he knows very well that in another field, he is not qualified to handle, ex. he is not an economist rather an engineer who could do infra works, etc. Aquino in the other hand, considered a legal retardate presumes to know everything. A hard headed, a natural behavior of a person suffering from psychological disorder, displayed his inability to handle situations, tasks that are only meant for efficient individuals, most specially the job of an state head, a very critical position which needs a highly intellectual and experienced individual. Yes, the presidency is not a joke….it is not as easy as playing computer games!

  3. Whoever you are, (the retired General mentioned in this article), you really hit the core of this tragedy…..The Filipino people need you to be outspoken over the eneptness of Gazmin & the President….I don’t discount the capabilities of SAF but they were ill-equiped. (kahit water canteen wala)….By the way who will receive the $5M for the death of the terrorist? Sana mapunta yun sa families of the 44 fallen souls…

  4. If the SAF commandos had coordinated with MGen. Pangilinan papasok pa lang sila inambush at minasacre na sila,probably more casaulties MGen.Pangilinan is sleeping with the enemy and migth even have business deal with them.

    • Clark Publico on

      You have point. That is why Napenas also reiterated that they will just inform the AFP kapag on going na.

  5. Carl Cid Inting on

    The incompetence of both Aquino and Gazmin has been proven on several ocassions. The important matter is that Aquino be held accountable for illegally authorizing a suspended official to take command of the disastrous Mamasapano operation.

  6. Had Aquino not lusted over the recognition and fame if he was able to capture the terrorist and just left the planning and execution of the arrest to the professionals, the 44 SAF would not have died.

  7. apolonio reyes on

    TAMA KA GENERAL SIR, IISA LANG DAPAT ANG CCHIN SA PAGKAMATAY NG 44 SAF FALLEN HEROES AT IISA DIN SA 100M FILIPINO ANG DI ALAM KUNG SINO ANG CCSIHIN AT MAY KASALANAN. DI BA SIRP?

  8. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Tama ang former military commander na iyan. Bugok kasi si Aquino at si Gazmin.

  9. This account just reinforce that biblical adage that if you are not good in small things, then the more not in much bigger ones. Simply, it’s the reason why Aquino seems to have habitually made wrong decisions, like the Luneta Hostage Crisis, PDAF/DAP unconstitutionality, Corona Impeachment steamrolling in Congress, Zamboanga MNLF Affair Scorched Earth Decision, Typhoon Yolanda Relief Mishandling, not apologizing to Hongkong officials for the Luneta massacre, and now the Mamasapano fiasco. Sadly, responsibility for putting this incompetent and wrong person to the presidency are the ignorant voters, or might be the Comelec. It’s the biggest blunder and worst decision the Filipinos have made so far.

  10. The compartmentalization could be the reason of it all. Maybe Purisima and/or Nepenas and Mendez were so sure that they will succeed in every aspect of the operations without he Army’s help, so why share the credit? Surely, had the PNP/SAF operations was a complete success with minor drawbacks, PNoy can announce to all that the successful operation and mission was the brainchild of Purisima and him, so the public should be appreciative of Purisima and forgive him his trespasses and bring him back, pronto, to his office as chief PNP, PNoy could make all the boasts to make him more than just an old hand in tradpol. Surely Naspenas and Mendez were also expecting additional stars in their shoulders.