SENATE Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday said he has evidence to prove that President Benigno Aquino 3rd did nothing to save the lives of the Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos mowed down while carrying out an operation to capture a terrorist in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, almost a year ago
Enrile claimed that Aquino actively involved himself in the planning and preparation for Oplan Exodus, the police operation launched to capture suspected terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.
“So that there will be no more questions about whether we should reopen the Mamasapano hearings or not, I would like to make it on record that I have evidence that the President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, actively and directly involved himself in the planning and preparation for Oplan Exodus,” the senator said.
Enrile added that he also has proof to show that Aquino was monitoring the operation on the day of the actual operation while on his way to Zamboanga City.
“Third, while the operation was going on and the SAF units were being slaughtered, he did not do anything at all to save them and I’m going to prove this with evidence in that hearing,” he said.
It was Enrile who sought the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano bloodbath that left 44 SAF troops dead.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the investigation is justified by continuing cries for justice from families of the slain police commandos.
“Almost a year has passed after the Mamasapano massacre and yet we continue to hear complaints from some of the kin of the SAF 44 that they are yet to receive the assistance the government promised to them,” Marcos noted.
He cited reports quoting widows Virgie Viernes and Merlyn Gamutan who bared that they have not received the aid pledged by the government.
Marcos said the complaint of the two widows runs counter to the claim of the Philippine National Police that they have provided about P80 million in cash aid for the kin of the fallen policemen.
“But what the families of the SAF 44 are asking most from the government is justice for their loved ones. Yet until now no case has been filed in court to prosecute those responsible,” the senator added.
Former Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan also blamed Aquino for the bloodshed in Mamasapano.
“What I can say as an observer is that what happened in Mamasapano was very, very unusual. It should not have happened. Saving those guys is the primordial interest of the government, especially for the Commander-in-Chief,” Alunan told the weekly Kapihan sa Manila forum.
As Commander-in-Chief, Aquino approves very sensitive missions and has the duty to make sure that a unit is given all the resources to accomplish that mission, and to do everything to keep its members from harm, he noted.
“I think perhaps that he has complied with the first one but with the second role of the Commander-in-Chief, that’s where he failed. Not enough was done, perhaps nothing was done to get the troops out of harm’s way,” Alunan said.
“Operations as crucial as this one require the approval of the Commander-in-Chief but he did not perform the most crucial role in that entire operations which was to make sure that the boys who are in trouble were supported by troops to extricate them,” he added.
Alunan said the President and other officials were keeping the truth from the public where the orders during the botched operation came from.
“That is the one that has to be unearthed by this new probe on Mamasapano,” he added. “In this particular case, it’s really a mystery why the Army unit there was not able to extend help despite repeated requests for assistance.”