PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd was fully aware of the events that took place on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Manila Times learned this from a reliable source who managed to obtain information on Oplan Exodus which was kept secret from Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and acting Philippine National Police chief Leonardo Espina.
The source said Aquino monitored the Mamasapano encounter inside the United States (US) Drone command facility at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) base in Zamboanga City.
Westmincom, which is under Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, is located inside Camp
Navaro. It is also used by the US military as a temporary base where the drone command facility is situated.
Aquino, the source said, monitored the mission through a live feed transmitted by a drone, which means that the President is well aware of what was happening to the SAF men.
There were reports that drones were seen in Mamasapano prior to, and during, the SAF operation to get Marwan.
The source said some members of the security, justice and peace clusters of the Cabinet were with the president.
Despite being fully aware of the massacre of SAF commandos, the President gave no order for reinforcements because he was reminded about the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the MILF, and sending reinforcements may lead to the breakdown of talks.
When asked who advised the President, the source said it was Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who reminded Aquino about the peace negotiations.
The source corroborated an earlier article by The Manila Times, published on February 5, that Aquino issued an order to the government troops to stand down and in effect denied any assistance that could have saved the lives of the 44 SAF men.
Another source told the Times that aside from the information transmitted by the drone to Aquino, the president’s group also got news from local radio stations that were broadcasting news about the encounter courtesy of the MILF.
“So it is not true that the President was only informed about the incident at around 5 p.m., he was monitoring the situation using the US facility inside Westmincom. He is also aware of the entire mission,” the source added.
At the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs hearing on the Mamasapano clash, military and Cabinet officials were not able to give a clear response when asked by lawmakers who among them informed the President about the clash.
They admitted being with Aquino that day in Zamboanga but nobody could say who among them first informed the President about the Maguindanao clash.