SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna: Former President Fidel Ramos on Thursday asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd to refrain from blaming anyone in the deadly clash that led to the massacre of at least 44 elite police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25 until investigation of the incident is over.
Ramos said“finger-pointing” is uncalled for, especially since the incident was also the result of “poor strategic direction from the Commander-in-Chief.”
The former leader served as chief of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
and the Philippine Constabulary (forerunner of the Philippine National Police).
He said Aquino should let the truth prevail and bring the culprits to jail.
Ramos made the statements after Aquino on Wednesday addressed the nation on the Mamasapano “misencounter.”
He said Aquino was washing his hands off on the carnage.
“I’m glad he made that speech even if it’s overdue. But sana naman ay walang masyadong finger-pointing kasi hindi pa natin alam kung anong tunay o kumpleto na katotohanan. Mayroon bang hindi tunay na katotohanan? Parang yun ang nakikita natin sa panahon na ito [But there should be no finger-pointing because we don’t know the whole truth. Is there a false truth? That seems to be the case at
hand],” Ramos told reporters in a chance interview.
“Ang daming salita nung mga nandito sa Manila [Those in Manila talk too much].
They have not seen the field of combat and it is unfair to the policemen,” he noted.
As one of the founding generals of the SAF, Ramos said he was concerned about the Mamasapano tragedy.
He likened the incident to the 1977 Patikul massacre that took the lives of 43 officers and men, including Army 1st Division (Tabak) Commander Brigadier-General Teodulo Bautista.
Ramos noted that “the Patikul [incident]was not even a field encounter but the premeditated murder of AFP personnel while talking peace with Moro National Liberation Front rebel commander Usman Sali.”
“These days, there appears to be too much complacency, a laid-back attitude on the part of high government officials, peace negotiators and even field commanders in regard to the ongoing peace process,” he said.
To win peace, according to Ramos, the “two leading ladies” in the government peace panel should have “availed themselves of advice” from retired AFP and PNP officers with experience and knowledge about the conflict in Mindanao.
He was referring to Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government peace panel head, and Secretary Teresita Deles, Aquino’s adviser on the peace process.
“Why don’t our negotiators consult these battle-hardened people?” Ramos asked.
He pointed out that “the advice of knowledgeable, experienced and battle-hardened retired AFP/PNP officers” would have helped the peace panel in its negotiations.
“Our job now is to pursue the killers [and]bring them to justice. But the peace process must not be a casualty like the 44 commandos who died in the notorious historic event,” Ramos said.
Malacañang said it welcomes the former president’s statements.
“Kabilang siya sa mga pinuno na nagpahayag ng posisyon hinggil sa kahalagahan ng pagpapatuloy ng prosesong pangkapayapaan at iginagalang namin ang pagpapahayag niya ng kanyang pananaw hinggil sa ibang usapin [He is among those who have stated their stand on the importance of continuing with the peace process and we respect him for his views on other issues],” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also on Thursday told a press conference.