• Filipinos can handle the truth


    It’s President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and his administration who fear the truth and its ramifications in the Mamasapano massacre.

    Of the many comments on and responses to my column last Thursday on our slain commandos (“Let us honor our commandos with the truth”, The Manila Times, Jan 29), nearly 100 percent of them concurred with my thesis that we could best honor the commandos by bringing out the whole truth “of how they died, why they died and who are responsible.”

    Only one reader dissented. And he dissented significantly by quoting a line spoken by Jack Nicholson in the movie

    A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

    If he meant to suggest that we, Filipinos, cannot handle the truth, he couldn’t be more mistaken. Everywhere I go, anywhere I turn, our countrymen are screaming for the truth. My phones keep bringing fresh information about the tragedy. Many are voicing their feelings through tears, anger and curses. If we go by the lessons of history, our people have handled and surmounted worse adversities throughout our history. Resilience is in our DNA.

    Our people want to mourn and pay their respects to their dead. It’s not right that the government is rushing to move the dead to the provinces. Awarding them medals of valor seems designed more to protect the government than to pay due homage to them. It’s understandable that the victims’ families have refused the medals.

    If there’s anyone who cannot handle the truth of Mamasapano and dreads its coming out, it’s our president and commander-in-chief. When he addressed the nation on live TV last Wednesday, we heard and saw a leader running away from the arena.

    Rip Van Winkle better than Aquino

    In that much-awaited speech, we, Filipinos, along with the rest of the world, expected to hear a leader who would give us (1) a tough-minded report on what really happened in Mamasapano and (2) a reasoned assessment of its impact and challenges for our people and the nation, not only in Mindanao, but in the entire archipelago. We expected to see a leader who would fully come out of his foxhole after four days in hiding.

    Instead, we heard a leader who rambled on and on, hiding behind a forest of polysyllabic Filipino phrases. He was a speaker not seeking to communicate, but trying his hardest to conceal what was troubling his mind and heart.

    Rip Van Winkle was better. In Washington Irving’s famous story, Van Winkle, a lazy man and henpecked husband, wanders away from his village and falls into a deep sleep after an evening of drinking with friends. When he wakes up, 20 years has passed. America has passed through the American Revolution. A lot of changes have taken place in his family, in the village and in the entire country. He then adjusts to the reality before him.

    In contrast, after coming out of his foxhole, Aquino has retreated into denial in the face of the massacre of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the PNP. He cannot bring himself to denounce the atrocity, or even to call it what it is. The cover-up of the tragedy has intensified. In the face of questioning about his role in the SAF’s ill-fated operation, he hides behind evasions, like saying that the questions are rhetorical. When pressed to say what actions are to be taken by the government, he declares, let’s wait for the board of inquiry to finish its probe. It’s a circuitous process in his head.

    President Aquino’s priorities appear to be:

    First, to protect himself from accountability for the tragedy; and second, to protect his Bangsamore Basic Law (BBL) project from being scuttled by the massacre. He wants Congress to pass the proposed law, as if nothing has happened.

    But the stark realities that are rapidly emerging are forcing him into actions that are not in his nature. After being roundly criticized for snubbing the arrival of the slain commandos at Villamor Air Base, he hastily made a visit to the wake.

    The clamor for an independent and full-fledged inquiry into the massacre is the next thing that will force his hand.

    Needed: independent inquiry into Mamasapano

    Both the Senate and the DILG-PNP have slated inquiries into the Mamasapano tragedy.

    The Senate, with Sen. Grace Poe in the lead, has scheduled the start of hearings on Feb 4.

    The PNP still has to constitute its board.

    Neither inquiry satisfies the urgent need and clamor for an independent and comprehensive investigation. Both are prone to manipulation and direction by the Administration. The Senate, with its dubious inquiry record, cannot be trusted.

    I believe the proposal of some concerned citizens that, in line with the magnitude of the tragedy and its surpassing implications for peace and stability in Mindanao, Congress, with the support of the Executive, should constitute a special Commission to inquire into the Mamasapano massacre.

    A commission-type inquiry would be similar to the constitutional approach of the US in inquiring into the 9/11 terrorist attack and the John F. Kennedy assassination.

    A commission may be given full powers to pursue a line of inquiry as it sees fit, and to make recommendations for government to adopt, legislate, and implement.

    An independent inquiry is needed because sometimes the priority of our elected officials and bureaucrats, as well as military, is self-protection rather than the protection of the public and public interest. We only get their version of the truth.

    Failure to tell the truth about many things in our public life has contributed to public distrust of government in this country. Combined with the looting of the public treasury, it explains why government is today the least trusted institution in our society, according to the Trust Index.

    Truth-telling is the way to go

    To rebuild trust in government, truth-telling is the way to go.

    We must not fear what an independent inquiry will uncover about the truth of the Mamasapano tragedy. We should not fear its impact on the peace process and the proposed Bangsamoro law.

    Above all, we must not be cowed by the thought of a cocked gun directed at our heads.

    Peace and its platitudes can sometimes be a hindrance to achieving real peace and stability. They can stand in the way of serious programs that can more effectively
    stabilize the situation and lift up communities.

    A serious commission, manned by persons of proven probity and integrity, can address these concerns of our people.

    President Aquino, Congress and the Supreme Court must not misjudge the keen desire of our people to know the whole truth of the Mamasapano massacre. They are not afraid of the challenge.

    We can live with the consequences of having to renegotiate a new peace agreement, if we must. Or to draft a new law, if we must.

    We can also live with the consequences of moving on without our foxhole president, if we must.

    So, yes, we Filipinos can handle the truth. Bring it on.

    And watch us turn it into an armor for national stability.



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    1. Jaime San Juan on

      Autopsies should have been conducted on all 44 SAF victims of that massacre!

      Is is not for every murder and crime, it is no brainier that an autopsy id required?

      Are we so stupid not to demand this!

      How can the Commission of Human Rights investigate this multiple murders by not instructing autopsies to be conducted in the first instant.

      It’s all will grandstanding bt the President to be seen consoling victims’s relatives giving money likewise those leaders and persons who shout their support for the victims families who clamor for justice.

      Why don’t they seek the truth first by demanding autopsies to know how the died?

    2. The President of the country is to blame for the carnage/ massacre of the PNP/SAF commandos.Analysis:President B.S.Aquino was very confident on the words of Gen. Allan Purisima on the combat readiness of the PNP/SAF commandos, that with the information of the presence of the 2 terrorist at Mamasapano, Maguindanao and with the reward of US$ 50 million from the US/CIA funds for the capture of the 2 terrorist tempted him to fly to Zamboanga coordinating only with suspended Gen. A. Purisima, his confidante in Malacanan and the commander of PNP/SAF to arrest the bomb-expert terrorist but mission failed so the President left without ordering re-inforcement fly back to Manila. Who is to blame? Speak Filipinos..

    3. Perhaps these Moros have short memory as P-noy. Filipino Christians, not just Moros, have never been afraid to die and to fight as violently and mercilessly against their enemies when they are forced to and feel their cause is just. The Second World War has brought out from the Christian Filipinos the real courage and bravery, and sometiomeas cruelty, that they have also shown during the Mindanao war. Moros,do not test further the resolve and patience of a God fearing people. You might regret your folly later and may again experience the lives of rats running around, seeking for shitholes to hide.

    4. With all the powers under her command, the mother did not even dared to re-investigate the “assasination” of her husband in an atmosphere of democracy and free press for fear that the truth may come out that it was not Mr. Marcos who was the mastermind. Similarly, the son of the congenital liar will never allow a full scale investigation for fear that that his stupidity and incompetence for pushing the BBL will reveal his fallacies. He dared not allow the reinforcements to come and save the beleaguered guys for fear that this will signal a full scale war which will put his “peace initiatives” into naught and confirm the fact that the MILF is and have always been in a war mode contrary to their public pronouncements. In fact, it is not far fetched that the MILF may have allied themselves with ISIS by now. The ISIS Business Model can bring billions faster and those guys prefer the cash on hand rather than the future investments that are still dreams that may never come yet in their lifetime.

    5. Please don’t involve the senate in anything anymore. They are inutile and the people don’t have respect with this institution, if we can still call it as such,anymore. this is the only senate in the world that doesn’t create laws but instead waste peoples money doing useless investigations and even usurping the duties of the courts of law!! With this abnoy administration,the people are now living with lies, lies, lies. kaya nabwisit ang pinas thru nature and this administration’s man-made calamities! Mostly with the later for the last 4 and a half years. I agree that the Mapasapano massacre be investigated by independent group or by any other dedicated group but plese not with this Abnoy-bribed Congress!

    6. It is already indicated that Aquino is the responsible. No inquiry under Aquino will reveal the truth. A real independent inquiry is needed. Retired Generals and retired Professors and retired judges would be good members. We need people with no political ambitions, but with brains and love of country. We need this to be non-political and the truth can be revealed. One person with ties to Aquino or the LP destroys all truth.

    7. vagoneto rieles on

      “..persons of proven probity and integrity..” Do we have such persons? From what we’ve read and observed over many,many years, we conclude that there are three general types of Filipino. The first are those who are beholden..therefore, “Pro”; the second are those who,are , to them, aggrieved..therefore, “Con”; and the third are those who just want to ‘paper-over’ what seems to be present controversies, to not rock the boat, and to just move on to the next controversy..therefore, ‘bakla’. None of these persons would suit your criteria. To be fair, however, there could be “persons of proven probity and integrity” if we looked hard enough. Ms. Sereno of the Supreme Court is one such person..others, do not come to mind just yet. Frankly, getting to the “truth” of this very tragic incident will be very difficult.

    8. The TALKING phase in this long-winding people’s desire for regime change has gone past a long time ago ! We MUST immediately go to the HOW, the action part NOW as in Ngayong-ngayon Na !

    9. Roldan Guerrero on

      Dignified National leaders take responsibilities of their lapses and misdeeds, even with their suburdinates` mistakes. PM Abe of Japan, 12 yrs ago became the youngest Prime Minister ever elected by the DIET, serving a very short term. He resigned his post, resulting from a very light offense committed by his foreign minister while attending a summit somewhere in Europe . His foreign minister was noticed of hangover from drunkenness while in the conference. It was published wordwide and created so much criticisms describing Japan of having a drunkard cabinet official. PM Abe took responsibility of his alter ego`s misdeed and this triggered his act of releasing his Prime Ministerial position. The Japanese people were so much disappointed and his colleagues tried their best to convince him not to resign, (PM ABE is known of his unequalled ECONOMICS EXPERTISE) but nobody was able to stop him, few days later his foreign minister committed HARAKIRI. A succession of 5 Prime Ministers occured, all failed to keep Japan back to its ailing economy which started on Abe`s predecessor`s term. Now Abe is again the Prime Minister of Japan, and it is very noticeasable that Japan`s economy is turning around in just few months after he took over. Such thing never happens in the Philippines. Every Filipino knows how their leaders perform their jobs, specially the INCUMBENT, who has violated the constitution on almost all of its provisions. His GROSS NEGLECT in the performance of his job resulted into contineous suffering of every Filipino. Why is BSA so obcessed of forcing BBL into enactment? I will repeat it again in this column, as I have mentioned in other columnists` thesis, ” AQUINO AND HIS ALLIES WILL USE THE PLACE AS THEIR SUNCTUARY, undoubtedly as they will face stackpiles of cases and prosecutions, once he gets down. What is the worst problem facing the Filipinos nowadays? DEFINITELY THE WORST PROBLEM IS HAVING A TOTALLY DIFUNCTIONAL PRESIDENT!

    10. Indeed.

      There can be no peace without justice; for justice to prevail, truth must be unveiled for everyone to see.

      Then and only then can we start honouring our #Fallen44.

    11. pnoy’s cognitive and affective attributes are not within the normal range. had we listened to those who divulged his “medical records” during the 2010 election campaign then we should not be in this situation now. at least, i did not vote for him so he does not need mercy and compassion. good riddance!

    12. Muriel Magtanggol on

      Not a word of SORRY! Perhaps it’s a word he was never taught because as we see him today, he is not used to be accountable for anything except if it’s about glory!
      We would like to know if he led those men to their slaughter. We want to know if he deserves to be called the Massacre King!

      • Melchor Vergara on

        the idiot president has no concept of shame and embarrassment and will never know how to apologize…. he is firmly delusional that because of his name and manufactured family story constantly peddled by the yellow media empire, the nation owes them a lot and they are entitled to do and say as they please

    13. People in the philippines when they make a mistake never like to own up to it. They will do almost anything to conceal it. This is no different. 44 lost their lives, needlessly, it was because of incompetance from the top down. These people in charge in this country couldnt organise a booze up in a brewery. So im sure will all know everyone at the top involved cocked up, now do you expect them to own up & say it was my fault, well my advice to you is dont hold your breath whilst waiting. They will never admit it was their fault, never. Will you get to the bottom of this, i dont know, i hope so but those in power in any power will do everything to shift blame from themselves, but if all had gone to plan would be at the helm to get the accolades. Thats how it is here. Surely you all know that.

    14. Anima A. Agrava on

      Excellent, wonderful, clear-headed column! Congratulations and may you continue to give enlightening columns full of wisdom.

    15. Mababaliwala ang kamatayan ng 44PNP-SAF kung hindi mapapatalsik si Noynoy dahil wala siyang gagawin kundi magsinungaling gamit ang yellow media upang mapagtakpan ang katraiduran sa bayan na ikinamatay ng 44PNP-SAF.

    16. But, I don’ think Pres. B. S. Aquino can handle the truth: “That the country has ‘gone to the dogs with his kind of leadership because of unsubstantiated claims of successes, selective corruption charges, insensitivity, blame game and broken sense of priorities and proprieties.”.

    17. If the Filipinos can handle the truth that PNoy is an unqualified, incompetent, lazy and vindictive President, we can surely handle the truth that he is directly responsible of the massacre of the 44 SAF officers. Agree that an independent inquiry be lodged to dig deeper what really is Oplan Wolverine from start to the end of the massacre. Having inquiry and investigation led by one Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and one Senate President Lolong Drillon will only amount and result to WHITE WASH. Grace Poe and the minority in the House will just be wasting their time and effort.

    18. another investigation, another whitewash, and after a few years another incident,
      do we really learn??????????????????????????????????????????????????