The commander of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) turned emotional on Tuesday at the resumption of a Senate committee hearing on the Mamasapano clash, after the military was again blamed for supposedly failing to provide early assistance to police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF).
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th ID, was reacting to allegations made by suspended SAF commander Getulio Napenas that the 44 commandos who died in the firefight could have been saved had the military provided the artillery support they had been requesting.
“Your honor, madam chair, I’m thankful that at least our efforts have been recognized. The pain has somehow been eased, but what I can’t accept is that although our efforts have been acknowledged we are still being blamed for the deaths,” Pangilinan said.
Napenas had been asked by Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, to publicly acknowledge assistance provided by the military to the SAF team on January 25.
He initially dismissed recent media reports saying the AFP did not help the police commandos sent to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan.
Napenas, during the hearing, acknowledged the big help of the military, particularly in providing infantry and mechanized force as well as in helping them rescue members of the 84th SAF who were under heavy fire that day.
“But I would like to clarify that it is not only the military who went there to rescue [the 84th SAF team]but also included were our other SAF troops,” he said.
Napenas then added, however, that have they been provided the artillery support that they have been asking in the morning of Janiuary 25, they could have avoided losing the 44 elite police officers.
“But again, we like to acknowledge the help of the military infantry for providing us the support and also the mechanized brigade,” he said.
Poe, however, was visibly not pleased with Napenas’ statements and reminded the police official that the reason why the committee agreed to conduct an executive session is for them to have a chance to bring out all their sentiments and to put an end to the finger-pointing over the Mamasapano carnage.
She said that the committee is not siding with anyone but if Napenas would say thank you andretaliate with an accusation then the gesture will be for nothing.
It was at this juncture when Pangilinan turned emotional and thanked the relived SAF chief for recognizing their contribution.
“I do not want to be emotional here. Naibigay ko na po sa inyo lahat, (I have given everything),” he said.
“But just the same I thank you sir for recognizing at least that our effort that you think is very little, but for me all the effort were given, were done in order to help you despite not coordinating with us,” Pangilinan added.