President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and his acolyte, Manuel Roxas 2nd, are in panic over the new Senate hearings on the Jan. 25, 2015 massacre of 44 Special Action Forces in Mamasapano, Mindanao, called for by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, according to sources close to the Palace.
“They didn’t see it coming. Aquino and Roxas were even making jokes that Enrile had an onset of Alzheimer’s disease [while in detention], making him harmless even now that he has been freed by the Supreme Court,” one of the sources said.
Indeed. Enrile had been eerily quiet since the Supreme Court ordered him released in August. I was told he was silently gathering information that would incontrovertibly show that Aquino and Roxas deliberately shirked from saving the SAF troopers.
Karma is a bitch. Aquino and Roxas for one and a half years used the Senate hearings to portray Vice President Jejomar Binay as corrupt. The charges are all but forgotten now, and the presidential candidate has emerged as a victim of one of the most well financed, most ruthless black-propaganda campaign in memory.
Now it is Aquino’s candidate, Roxas, who would be the subject of a Senate investigation. The timing – just months before the May elections – is just perfect to bury him politically.
And indeed, it will: next to Aquino, Roxas was in charge of the police at that time since he was chairman of the National Police Commission. According to his sworn statements in the Senate hearings, he was told about the operation in the early morning, and by midmorning, that the SAF had been pinned down by Muslim insurgents. He didn’t lift a finger to give the SAF troops aid, even as he was with Aquino the whole day.
As Aquino’s de facto right-hand man, he had the stature to call in the armed forces to save the SAF. For chrissakes, he was with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and army generals in charge of Mindanao that day. He didn’t do anything to save his troops.
According to other accounts, he knew about the operation even a day before, and was told to join Aquino in Zamboanga City that day so they could fly by helicopter to Cotabato to congratulate the SAF troopers after they were supposed to have accomplished their mission.
The entire day, as the tragedy unfolded, he and Aquino did nothing to stop the massacre of the SAF troopers, not even the later brutal act of mutilating their bodies. A video clip disseminated on Facebook at the time showed a wounded trooper fired upon at point blank. The shadows in the video indicate this occurred toward sundown – 10 hours after Roxas had been informed of the operation, and during which he could have moved heaven and earth to stop the carnage.
Pretending nothing was happening
Even now that presidential candidate Grace P. Llamanzares is projecting herself as an intelligent and eloquent senator in the hearings, there is no doubt that she stopped short of investigating Aquino’s culpability in the Mamasapano massacre. The President was, in fact, on top of the operation, and authorized his close buddy, Alan Purisima, to be his commander – an instruction that was illegal as Purisima had been suspended from his post by the Ombudsman since December 2014.
An incontrovertible proof of this is that Poe had not “referred” the report of her committee to the Senate at large – a standard procedure for such reports – which precluded other senators from the interpellation. Otherwise, this process could have exposed Aquino’s culpability, as well as the cover-up Llamanzares undertook in effect.
What could have been established as the smoking gun of sorts was the transcript of sacked general Purisima’s cellphone conversations with Aquino that he submitted to the Senate committee.
After a back-and-forth of messages as the tragedy unfolded, the transcript had a yawning eight-hour gap, which is impossible.
Neither Llamanzares nor any one else in the Senate moved to subpoena Globe or PLDT for records on the messages during those eight hours. True, the telcos’ systems could not have contained the actual messages. It, however, would have contained a log of what cellphone number was sending messages to Purisima, and that could have been determined if that came from Aquino’s phone or not.
Llamanzares really proved to be just another wheeling-and-dealing politician, with her obvious refusal to pursue leads that would have clearly proved that Aquino was responsible for the horrific massacre of the SAF 44 troopers, and therefore, must be impeached.
The only explanation for Llamanzares’ cover-up of Aquino’s culpability was that she was hoping at that time that he would change his mind over Roxas and choose her, instead, as the Administration candidate. This could also explain why, for instance, Senators Francis Escudero and Alan Cayetano appeared like ball-less eunuchs in the hearings.
Nine months ago
But those hearings happened nine months ago, a very long time in politics. Llamanzares, Escudero and Cayetano are now on opposite sides of the political war. Llamanzares has been furious over Roxas’ moves to disqualify her as a candidate.
I can’t wait to watch Llamanzares grill Roxas in the Senate, asking him why he didn’t do anything to save the lives of the SAF 44.
The massacre of our best fighting men, the SAF 44, is the worst failing of Aquino. This should remind us to never, ever elect into office somebody who is even remotely suspected of having some psychological disability.
Aquino should have been impeached last year, with charges infinitely worse than that for the inaccurate SALN for which he took out Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Forget every blunder Roxas has done, forget his mismanagement of the MRT-3 and the Yolanda disaster management. His complicity in the Mamasapano massacre alone should bar him from having any public office, appointive or elective.
After all, the details of Aquino’s complicity have been incontrovertibly established as facts.
Aquino was playing general, had three meetings for the Mamasapano operation in Malacañang in 2014 with suspended police chief Purisima and then SAF head Police Chief Superintendent Getulio Napeñas, and even intelligence officer Fernando Mendez. It was illegal and, therefore, an impeachable offense for Aquino to have appointed as operations man his bosom friend, Purisima, since he was suspended by the Ombudsman at that time.
In fact, for that, Purisima was charged by the Ombudsman for usurpation of authority. But it was Aquino who ordered him to usurp authority. Why wasn’t he made accountable? Could Purisima refuse an order from the President?
Aquino was informed of the unraveling tragedy in the early morning of that bloody day. He himself revealed this in an impromptu, video-taped speech before the SAF two days later, saying, “Maaga pa lang, tuloy-tuloy na ang mga ulat na natatanggap namin.” (As early as the wee hours of that morning, I was already receiving reports on the operation.)
Yet, even when Aquino had received reports that the SAF troopers had been pinned down and sent signals begging for artillery and air support, he did nothing.
The chairman emeritus of this newspaper, Dante Ang, reported last year based on his reliable sources that Aquino actually ordered the army to stand down, as their efforts to rescue the SAF troopers allegedly would jeopardize his peace talks with the MILF. This claim has not been refuted.
Why do we allow such a President, with blood on his hands, to continue in power and even show the gall to ask us to elect his clone as his successor? The yellow ribbon on his chest – symbol of his mother’s anti-Marcos crusade – has since been smeared with crimson blood.
I hope the Senate finds the courage and integrity to get justice done, so the souls of the SAF 44 will rest in peace.