WHY did the AFP not aid the massacred PNP-SAF commandos?
Police Director Getulio Napeñas, the relieved head of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), told a sad, disturbing and legally significant detail about the January 25 massacre of 44 of his men in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. He said, as reported by the Inquirer, that his men were still alive at around noon that Sunday.
This was about six hours after the second PNP-SAF group, providing cover for the first group, ended up being in a gun battle with an army of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and ran out of ammunition and became easy pickings for the rebels.
The Inquirer report has Napeñas saying that the last contact with the PNP-SAF commandos who were pinned down was before 1 p.m.
As early as 6 a.m. the besieged and surrounded PNP-SAF men had called the Department of National Defense for help but no reinforcements came. There are also reports that President BS Aquino’s peace process people and negotiators had contacted the top MILF leaders–to no avail. The MILF soldiers, boosted by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who are supposed to be a break-away army from the MILF, went on to slaughter our PNP-SAF heroes.
Philippine Army units were in Mamasapano itself, and not far away in Shariff Aguak and Awang. But these did nothing to rescue the PNP-SAF commandos. The logical conclusion one has to make is that these Philippine Army units were told by a higher-up to ignore the S.O.S. from their PNP-SAF comrades-in-arms.
In any combat operation especially one that involves entering an area that is more familiar to the enemy, preparing for “worst case” scenarios and mobilizing as much resources as possible, even if these won’t be used immediately, are imperative. And the top military brass, even the country’s topmost leaders, should be monitoring the operation–second-by-second.
In Operation Neptune Spear which the US military carried out in Pakistan to capture or terminate the now gone al-Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 21, 2011, the US National Security Team monitored the operation from the White House so they could decide immediately what action to take if things went wrong. And the US was ready to deploy more resources and men from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. In short, everything was well-planned and if something or everything went wrong, the top brass was there to make crucial decisions.
It seems Napeñas should be admired not just for taking on a bold mission but also for willingly serving as his superiors’ fall guy. He and his men bravely went ahead to perform their mission, encouraged by someone high up into thinking that they only had to worry about Marwan and Usman’s bodyguards but not about being surrounded by MILF armies. They were sure that the MILF fighters were now friends of the government and buddies of President Aquino.
A normal commander would have at the outset refused the mission and risk his men’s lives–if he were told that the Philippine Army units in the area would not back them up if something went wrong. And if he did not have the assurance that no less than the President of the Philippines, the AFP and PNP commander in chief, were not monitoring the progress of the operation and ready to give him and his men immediate assistance.
Napeñas is known to be a normal commander.
The fact that Napeñas asked for reinforcements as early as 6 a.m. and none came at all boggles the imagination.
Two or three helicopter gunships from the army or an artillery barrage from nearby camps could have turned the tide of battle or at least reduced casualties dramatically.
Heads must roll–for the refusal of the Philippine Army to help the PNP-SAF. President Aquino’s must be held accountable for ordering or allowing someone to order the AFP to stand down and ignore the pleas of the PNP commandos who had run out bullets and were at the mercy of the MILF armies around them.
The MILF leaders must also be held to account for the massacre and the mutilation of our fallen heroes. They did not act to stop the carnage, apparently despite being appealed to by President Aquino’s peace negotiators.
President Aquino and his peace-process people place a higher value on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law than the lives of our men in uniform and the sovereignty of our Republic.
Our nation is in very grave danger with him–together with his closest and favorite officials and his treasonous peace negotiators–running our government.