Aquino vows: ‘We will get Usman’

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 President Aquino prays before a casket bearing the remains of a fallen troop also at the wake. PHOTOS BY MALACAÑANG

President Aquino prays before a casket bearing the remains of a fallen troop also at the wake. PHOTOS BY MALACAÑANG

President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday assured families of Special Action Force
(SAF) commandos who died in a clash with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that the government will get justice for them and their loved ones.

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The fallen troops’ families were joined by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) also on Friday in demanding justice for the death of 44 SAF members in the hands of the separatists from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last Sunday.

In a speech, Aquino acknowledged that Sunday’s mission, intended to get Malaysian terrorist Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino cohort Abdul Basit Usman, left several questions begging for answers, beginning “Why?”
He admitted that he could not answer the question.

“So many questions asked today begin with ‘Why:’ Why did this happen? Why did they have to die? Why do families have to suffer?,” Aquino said. “I must be honest, I do not have the answers to all these questions.”

But, he told the families of the slain police officers, “that I genuinely understand how you feel.”

The President, who kept mourners waiting at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City (Metro Manila), where the necrological rites for the fallen troops were held, recounted how he overcame his own grief over the assassination of his father, Marcos nemesis and opposition leader then senator Benigno Aquino Jr., in 1983.

“I, too, lost a loved one in a sudden manner,” he said, recalling how difficult it was to lose his father and how even more difficult it was to move from anger to acceptance.

“In that moment of absolute misery and pain, several questions occupied my mind: Now that our father is no longer with us, how can we achieve that which we desire for our country? Does this mean we have reached the end of our fight? If transformation could not be achieved even after my father died, had my father’s sacrifice, and that of thousands of Filipinos, gone to waste?,” Aquino asked.

“To the families of our fallen [troops], I know [fully]well that your lives have been turned upside down with the sudden death of your loved ones. You had plans laid out for your future; you had set your sight toward achieving certain dreams. Now, with this unexpected outcome, the future for you and your families seems to be clouded with uncertainty,” he said.

The President, nevertheless, vowed to get Usman, who supposedly escaped while the other target, Marwan, was reportedly killed.

“You know this: I am a man of my word… I assure you, we will get Usman,” Aquino said, adding that this promise is “number one on our list of priorities.”

The President said he has ordered concerned authorities to execute “a more effective plan” to hunt down and apprehend Usman.

“Your government is already working toward this end. In fact, even before speaking to you, we were already taking steps to meet this objective. We will prove that the law truly prevails in the Philippines,” he added.

“We do not want a repeat of incidents like this,” Aquino told the somber crowd.

He  reiterated that authorities have to get to the bottom of the incident to determine the next course of action, instead of just making decisions based on pure emotions.

“As President, even if I want to be angry, I cannot allow myself to be carried away by my emotions. Rash decision-making has no place in these situations. If I were to let my anger dictate my actions, then perhaps instead of resolving the problem, I would only exacerbate it. We will do our utmost to gain justice for all those who perished and for the loved ones they left behind,” Aquino said.

Meanwhile, he also assured the families that all possible help will be extended to them, including scholarships and employment opportunities.

“Let me also assure you: We will exert every effort to lessen your worries and doubts about the future. We will provide for your needs, in accordance with all laws and regulations. We will do everything in our power to help each family of our fallen heroes in the police,” Aquino said.

“It is clear: Your husbands, brothers, and sons, whom we honor today, are heroes. Our nation owes them a great debt of gratitude. They sacrificed their lives, to bring peace and order to the lives of the vast majority,” he added.

When Aquino arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa, he went straight to the coffins of the slain officers, paused and said a prayer.

The President the approached the families and gave them medals of bravery.

At one of the coffins, the widow of the fallen police officer from Bataan did not take the plaque offered her by Aquino. Her mother did so in her stead.

Afterward, the Preside was led to a holding room, where he met with the relatives in private. Each family was given five minutes with him.

The memorial service was held a day after Aquino drew flak for attending the inauguration of a car plant in Laguna instead of being at Villamor Air Base for the arrival honors for the SAF commandos.

In a statement, officials of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches said, “From our biblical perspective, all lives are created in the image of God and are inherently and equally valuable in the eyes of the One who created all human beings. Though we sincerely cry with those who lost their loved ones, our words would not be enough to describe the deepest pain and suffering of their families and loved ones.

Apart from demanding justice for the 44 police officers killed and also for their families, Bishop Noel A. Pantoja, National Director Designate;  Bishop Efraim M.
Tendero, National Director; and Bishop Cesar V. Punzalan III, Board Chairman, sought the “truth” and at the same time called for “mercy.”

To find the truth, they enjoined civil societies, religious bodies, business sector and all other peace-loving organizations to help conduct a joint fact-finding mission independent of the government and the MILF.

In appealing for mercy, the PCEC officials said, “Violence makes us angry. When we are violated, we naturally want to get even. We are tempted to see human society as ‘us’ versus ‘them’ in a perpetual adversarial relationship. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to transform adversarial relationships into reconciling relationships.

This is done through loving God and loving our neighbors, even loving our enemies.”

Based on established facts and under the rule of law, they added, “Those who are responsible for these violent deaths must be brought to justice. All those who are responsible–from the official who planned and sanctioned this operation, to the personnel on the ground who pulled the trigger, whether they are from the [government]side or the MILF side–must be brought to justice.”

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16 Comments

  1. To the President of the Republic of the Philippines,

    Commit yourself to the majority voices of the Filipino people.

    Let Justice begins for the dead of 44 SAF elites.

    It’s a biblical sign numbers for you to think 44 times before you put your trusts to the demands of the minority bangsamoro people and the doomed BBL.

    Learn to hear the voices of the majority, just like your mother before she came into office as President, she committed herself to the majority.

    But there were lapses during her time, I remember MNLF/MILF recreation takes place and reborn again. Misuari then came back into power from exile.

    During the days of your mother, peace talks was merely again the subject. and, what happened? the stronghold of the bangsamoro people came back into power and fully armed. The same thing, hundreds of good soldiers even died in various encounter and missions.

    For your information. TRUST the majority voices of the Filipinos and not MILF.

  2. pnoy is too scared to put the blame on the MILF and the BIFF. and why shouldn’t he be? hell, he puts the blame on them and he can kiss his dream of getting the Pulitzer peace prize goodbye. plain and simple.

  3. Scrap the BBL.

    Focused with the leaders of the armed forces of the Philippines to counter such barbaric acts committed by the bangsamoro people.

    Use all the possible resources that the Philippines had to stop this people bangsamoro to achieve their useless dreams.

    We will behind you Mr. President.

    Forget the past that your father Ninoy told you, you never trusts this bangsamoro ideologies. It’s a dangerous move to the entire Filipinos.

    Mr.President, learn not to be afraid with MILF demands. These people are liars and cannot be trusted at all.

    Even if they will graciously fed you infront. They will gonna still Stab you in your back. With those bad action, you MUST be vigilant and smart at all times.

    Again, Mr. president do not trust them at all. You are just merely one of the tools they longing to use to pursue not now, in the next generation to come to get what they want.

    That biblical number 44, is a sign for you Mr. President to think 44 times before you trust them(MILF) and the bangsamoro people.

    It was a blessed number to think and meditate to save your soul from this darkness moment.

    It’s up to you to accept the truth behind this very moment, it’s up to you to accept the voice of the majority.

    Don’t wait the time comes, you will see yourself hiding under the bed doing nothing t all.

    Mr. president , be a real brave-men and I will salute you endlessly.

  4. Leave Usman alone.

    Mr. President, yes I admired your father aspirations. He’s one of the great leader and good speaker ever the Philippines had. I remember, your father has a leader father who is a former mayor of Zamboanga City no other than my beloved Cesar C Climaco. Climaco who never give up surrendering in the 1970’s to MNLF cause. He fight the cause of the zamboanguenos and for the entire Filipinos.

    Zamboanga siege is an example, that our Philippines forces can handle and make war with full battle gear with MNLF.

    Mr. President, please show up your guts to the armed forces of the Philippines and police and lead them to seek justice for the 44 member of SAF who died recently in Mamasapono.

    Biblically, Mr. President the number 44 is sign for the judgment against humanity. And let this justice prevail for the cry of the majority now.

    Don’t waste time, as you’ve said you never waste for the life of those 44 SAF. Meaning Mr. president take action now, time is gold and precious and let justice come true.

    Don’t ever put your trust with the leaders of the Bangsamoro/MILF nor entertain other countries like Malaysia to solve our country’s problem.

    Remember, Mr. President we supposed to be the greatest nation in the asia’s east.
    I even admire you have done something on cleansing corruption.

    Please if you ca clean as well all the terrorist in Mindanao, I believe you will be awarded a Nobel Prize. Not that for the passage of BBL.

    BBL is a dangerous move to settle for the moro cause without laying totally their fire arms and decomissioned all their troops and camps. Because all those are part of the Philippine archipelago.

    But Mr. President, please rely the whole sentiments of the entire Filipinos. Do not rely on BBL nor put yourself to be a lameduck for the sake and cause of these bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

    Mr. President, are you thinking of Nobel prize? You MUST beat the cause of the majority of filipinos who lives in…

  5. how do they get Usman when he is being protected by the MILF and BIFF? he maybe out of the country by now.

  6. ano na naman pautot yan mr. presesident ng yellow paano mo makukuha eh nasa poder ng milf yan nagyayabnag ka namna e h parakarin un mga tuta mo puro yabang sabi nga ng maga comentataot hindi nakukuha yan sa pagyayabang dapat pagplanuhin at huwag mo isaprewra un si roxas at espina. ngayn anong nangyari butata kayo ni purisima at ochoa patawatawa kapa

  7. The photo of Aquino is very telling of his character, arms crossed over the chest, is a non-verbal language that tells of his indifference – feeling impatient and emotinally detached.

  8. SO did Usman kill the 44 police? Go after all of the killers of the 44. Aquino is so out of touch with the real world. He needs to act like a responsible president. If he cannot. He should resign. ENough is enough.

  9. vagoneto rieles on

    It isn’t the “Why” that needs to be answered..the people know why the ‘SAF Boys’ were there in Mamasapano, and, why they died. What needs to be answered are the “Who” questions. Who ordered the mission? Who directed the action? The President, and the PNP Command know the answers to these questions..without a doubt. No deployment of this size takes place without their knowing. So..”Who” do we get answers from? The MILF? (And that’s not a question that’s meant to be funny).

  10. I noticed Pnoy never talks about holding the MILF accountable, he avoids the issue of compelling the MILF to turn over the killers and return the loot. He always talks about the bigger picture of having a treaty. Well, the bigger picture is that you cannot have a treaty with no trust, no accountability and no responsibility for what happened to the valiant 44. I feel he just wants to have a treaty just for the sake of having one -for legacy’s sake. At the end of the day, its still about himself.

  11. it is you pnoy who leaked to your comrades, the milf, the arrest of your terrorist bomb makers marwan and usman. that’s why our saf troupe were ambushed because of you. why are you protecting those terrorist? why are you sincere to them by giving mindanao as a separate bangsamoro country? isn’t it because your dad promised rashid lucman, the father and founder of bangsamoro, mindanao to be own by these terrorist? these people are not even pilipinos. they are malaysians. malaysian terrorist who ran to mindanao when they were under attack by the malaysian government. you are the demon pnoy as seen clearly when you attacked the pope during his visit at the palace. you are a pest to our motherland. your only task as president is to grab hacienda luisita from the farmers and give mindanao as promised to rashid lucman by your dad. and use the peoples money to bribe congress and the senate to finish what your dad have started. you said that didn’t you. that you will continue what your parents have started.

    my only prayer is ….. america should attack your army the milf-cpp-npa.

  12. we the pilipino citizenry will get you and your army the milf, cpp-npa, and your cronies. not usman.

  13. Usman is not the main mission or problem right now. What we citizens of this country like to hear from you (like other presidents of other countries)are angry/mad words (to express your feelings of the fallen heroes) that you don’t tolerate this kind of massacre. Never did we hear from you that you will be going after those who are guilty and get them suffer the penalties of their brutalities. The relatives of the victims are waiting for your strong words to go after those who did the barbaric acts of murder. But instead of doing these, you deviated from some other statements that don’t even console the relatives of the victims. The whole Philippines is now angry at your reactions. Don’t wait for the worse to happen before your term expires. I used to admire you but at this time its totally different due to your display of weaknesses.