• Let us honor our commandos with the truth


    We cannot bring our commandos back to life. But we can honor them by bringing out the truth. The whole truth of how they died, why they died, and who are responsible.

    Every sorry and sordid little fact, every misstep, step by painful step, should be brought to light. Nothing should be kept in the dark.

    Calling the tragedy a “mis-encounter” is a cover up. It will only lead to a more explosive and dangerous situation.

    As the Manila Times went to press last night, President Aquino was scheduled to address the nation and report on the tragedy, finally breaking his inexcusable silence on the issue for nearly four days.

    I hope that with this speech, unlike his speeches in the past, the President did not hide from the facts and the issues.

    I hope he fully confronted the situation, disclosed his ugly role in this affair, revealed the names of those he placed in charge, and denounced the brutality and ceasefire violations by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its support groups.

    I hope he did not misuse the address to plead for his delusional project – the Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL) – in order to muddle the situation and salvage his presidency.

    A Palace operation all the way
    The truth, as it has started to emerge from inside information and disclosures to media, is very sad, tragic and unpleasant. The following points remain to be firmly established by testimony and documentation in a formal inquiry:

    First, the Special Action Force (SAF) was on a special covert operation in Maguindanao when tragedy befell them.

    Its mission was to capture or arrest two high-value international terrorists, carrying million-dollar bounties on their heads: Malaysian Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino Basit Usman. The US government offered a $5-million bounty for Marwan’s capture, and $1 million for Usman.

    Second, the operation was fully authorized and supported by President Aquino. He assigned Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to provide the unit with all the equipment and provisions necessary for them to succeed.

    Third, Aquino named suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima as commander of the SAF unit, so he could supervise the planning and execution of the operation, and report directly to the President.

    DILG secretary Mar Roxas was not informed of the operation. PNP top brass and headquarters in Camp Crame were also kept out of the loop. Purisima ran the operation from the controversial White House in Camp Crame, despite his suspension.

    Fourth, lending proof of his central role in this affair, Aquino went to Zamboanga City on Sunday, January 25, the day of the operation, where he positioned himself to await reports of its success. In the event of success, he meant to reap full credit for stopping international terrorists on Philippine soil. He wanted to be there to receive the captured terrorists. He waited in vain.

    Fifth, to execute its mission of arresting the terrorists, the SAF had to enter territory nominaly under the control of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), territory which is part of the Philippine Republic and therefore under the purview of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

    Instead of a standoff between parties bound by a ceasefire agreement, there was a firefight between the SAF unit and MILF forces.

    The firefight killed 44 members of the Special Action Force and wounded 12 others. One was reported missing, and has since surfaced to report on what had happened, and how many of those killed were executed and mutilated by the MILF forces.

    A moment of clarity in Mindanao
    If earlier many of us were confused and puzzled by the peace process in Mindanao and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the cobwebs in our minds have now been swept away by the massacre.

    This is a moment of clarity in Mindanao. We must not flinch in looking at the facts.

    What happened cannot be called peace in any language. It is war, or if you prefer, the resumption of hostilities.

    To use the term “mis-encounter” preferred by DILG secretary Mar Roxas will dishonor the dead.

    The term does not calm nerves, assuage anger, or console the victims and their families.

    If President Aquino used the same terminology last night, he is even more clueless than we have supposed.

    If he quakes and refuses to confront the MILF for its rank betrayal of its covenants with the government, he does not deserve the presidency.

    The actions of the MILF demand proportionate response from the government, and from our military and police forces.

    Aquino is emotionally invested in a narrative of success in the peace talks and in the Bangsamoro formula for peace in Mindanao. That window has dramatically narrowed with the massacre.

    If, as he has done in other controversies, Aquino took to blaming the dead commandos for their deaths, instead of their killers, he dishonors their memory, their families, the PNP, and all our men in uniform.

    On the BBL, the risks now exceed the possible gains from the law. Its passage, already chancy in light of the Constitution, has probably become impossible.

    The government must take serious actions and decisions to restore public confidence in the President’s ability to lead on the situation in Mindanao.

    To begin with, President Aquino must explicitly recognize that the MILF is now a threat to peace and order in Mindanao.

    Government security forces must now subject MILF weapons and facilities to the most intrusive and far-reaching inspection. If they refuse to cooperate, government would have the basis for resuming hostilities and for punitive action.

    Many will urge President Aquino to delay action. But there is no advantage in delaying response.

    The situation could be more costly tomorrow than it is today.

    What is hard to understand and to respect is the government’ peace panel – and their unbelievably foolish statements in the aftermath of the massacre. Entrusting our hopes for peace and stability in the hands of Mesdames Deles and Ferrer is one more proof of Aquino’s amateurism.

    There is, let’s face it, incoherence in the administration’s program for achieving a stable and secure Mindanao

    Saying that the secesssionist conflict must end will not make it so. As commander in chief, Aquino has a duty to defend the nation and protect our troops.

    There are no ifs or buts about this .



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    1. Regino Vallejo on

      STOP the BANGSAMORO LAW…If the MILF, with the Bangsamoro Law, want Pilipinos,even non Muslim in their areas, to accept their laws, why then,can they not accept our existing Laws and Constitution? Why do we have to Grant them special treatment, why,because of Religion? What about our Religion..did we ask for special favors…haven’t we been living with our Pilipino Muslims all these years…if their communities are poor…it is because of their leaders and Datus..the Bangsamoro is not the Solution, it is only an excuse or Means for the New Muslim Leaders to get control and Enrich themselves. Who are we fooling, The Maranaws, Maguindannaos nor the Tausugs will agree to be under the other…and one Datu will not be under the other Datu,..but all of these were never considered, because PNoy wants all the Glory, even at the expense of not only 44 SAF MEMBERS but the lives of ALL the Non-Muslims who who will have to swallow and sacrifice living under the BANGSAMORO and their SHARRIA LAWS. If the Muslims cannot conform to our Philippine Laws, why then should PNoy happily make PILIPINOS SWALLOW MUSLIM LAWS, just because we are unfortunate to have lived our entire lives together with Muslims. Re our unfortunate SAF members, it is ver Sad and Unfortunate, but this should not have happened, but if it is planned for PRIDE and GLORY, it is bound to fail. ANY Military Officer knows that when you Plan a Big Military Operation, you include all the Contingencies in your Plans. Even if the firefight started early Morning, Awang airbase, Cotabatocity is very close, where was our Air Force..there are so many Army camps close by, but I guess if the Pllanned was created by BOBO LEADERS…then you can count on FAILURE..we PRAY that OUR LEADERS IN CONGRESS, JUSTICE and All other GOVT AGENCIES will not be CONTAMINATED by The EXECUTIVE, who does not know how to EXECUTE…MAY OUR COUNTRY BE PROTECTED FROM PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW THE TRUE MEANING OF PROTECTION, PEACE NEGOTIATORS ETAL.

    2. vagoneto rieles on

      Congratulations and more power to Mr. Makabenta. The piece that he’s written was brief, thorough, to-the-point and dispassionate. He shone the light on the sordid and tragic event for all to digest. From all ‘non-administration’ accounts of what actually went down in Mamasapano, the 390, some, troopers walked into a withering crossfire oblivious of what was in store for them..for the glory of suspended General Alan Purisima and the President himself. Mr. Makabenta did not mention it, but this was ‘amateur hour’ and hubris combined..at such a horrible cost of life.

    3. Pinagloloko lang tayo ng MILF, tuwing makikipag negosasyon tayo, may umuusbong naman na bagong grupo, kung hindi kayang kontrolin ng MILF ang kanilang mga tauhan, para saan pa ang negosasyon? Dapat talaga durgin na ang mga grupo na yan, saan sila kumukuha ng pondo?paano sila nakakakuha ng armas?

    4. retard-in-chief won’t budge. he feels people trust and love him so much that he doesn’t need to show compassion to those fallen SAF men in uniform, massacred by the MI’s, hence, he would rather attend to car business than showing at the airbase to meet those fallen SAFs when they arrived in Manila. pumalpak kayo, bahala kayo sa bangkay n’yo….

      • opinion reader on

        i like this “pumalpak kayo, bahala kayo sa bangkay nyo” parang parehas lang nung “eh, buhay ka pa naman di ba?”

    5. edlberto milan on

      Let us wait for the truth to be ferret out by the correct process, let us reduce action that will tend to inflame emotions such as trial by publicity..

    6. Bakit hindi pa deniklarang mga terorista ang MiLF at BIFF? By cuddling those foreign terrorist in thier stronghold di ba considered na rin silang mga terorista sa ginawa nila? Dapat itigil na yang wala namang pupuntahang peace negotiation na yan? Edeklara nang mga terorista ang grupo na yan at puksain at huwag tigilan hanggan mapanagut silang lahat sa ginawa nila laban sa bansa at sa buong mamayan Pilipino.

    7. The truth is those SAF troopers were left to die on the battlefield, even with MILF declaring that the area which was entered by the law enforcers is under their control, the territory still remain under the jurisdiction of the republic of the Philippines, since the BBL had not been finalized, and therefore is in effect not yet a law.

      As for the Catapang, the AFP’s slogan rings hollow (Kawal DISIPLINADO, bawal ABUSADO, dapat ASINTADO), he should have a manual on ‘rules of engagement’, to protect Philippines armed forces from operational threat. It was quite clear that a contingent of Philippines law enforcers are being massacred and are seeking assistance, it is imperative for another branch in the armed forces to come and engage the enemy of the state – no ifs and no buts.

    8. Vicente Penetrante on

      “As commander-in-chief Aquino has a duty to defend the nation and protect our troops,” blame his generals if something goes wrong, and task his suspended PNP chief to do jobs for him , even long long-distance from Purisima’s white house.

    9. I salute you Mr. Makabenta every word you said is so true and goes straight to everyone’s heart /head.Nothing is confusing that even the dull /ignorant including mentally retarded will not understand .You have the best presentation (weel said, well expressed).I remember same incident when 12 soldires were also massacred by same group of killers wherein slodiers were also mutilated (private parts were also mutilated) kaya HOPELESS itong peace process na na ‘to….benigno aquino is so insensitive as ever for him to even utter the word misencounter , he ought to be condenmed in the strongest way, shame on him .bakit ba pinagtitiagahan ng mga authorities yang BOBO na yan

      • Benigno Kuha-Ko, Akin-Na on

        PeNoy: “44 na sundalo lang naman ang minasaker ah…. libo-libong MILF naman ang makikinabang sa BBL”

    10. william draper on

      tama po mga analysis nyo. dapat magresign na si noynoy.
      hinde siya karapat dapat na presidente. bobo si noynoy ? kaya pati mga nilagay sa position niya walang kwenta…

    11. Do you honestly think this Chief Retardate is fit to function as Commander-in-Chief? I believe a regular family man, working even as a lowly janitor, is more fit lead than this son of a congenital liar.

    12. There goes the boy president playing his usual war games only this time its not video. Will he be man enough to step down for that? Of course not because he’s a boy precisely. Hay naku….Where do we go from here?

    13. Emilio Marayag Jr on

      With such a large contingent of law enforcers brought to the operational area there’s no way that other military or police units won’t know that a large scale operation would be conducted. Where are the Air Force helicopters and army armored units that could have prevented the mass murder of our policemen within few hours after the start of the firefight? Media reported the SAF requested support from the nearest army battalion but nothing immediate was done to reduce the casualties because the army chose to coordinate first with the grp-milf joint committee. In most situations human beings give priority to saving lives rather than resorting to admin matters before acting.
      as Lao Tzu once said: “The first decision of the ruler depends upon the quality of men around him”.

    14. And here comes our incompetent President tumatawa lang habang iniinterview siya sa public forum and infront of the televiewers pa. Hindi siya galit sa tinamong karumaldumal na kamatayan ng mga pulis niya as a Commander in chief ng bansa. He planned the mission with suspended Purisima according to Manila Standard, hence, it should be called highly irregular.

    15. Ang hindi ko maintindihan, kung bakit tumakbo ba yung remaining more than 300 SAF habang minamasaker yung mga kasamahan nila? Is this how they were trained? Ang mga amerikano noon sa Vietnam ay ang pagkaalam ko e samasama sila lahat sa bakbakan sa isang mission patay kung patay lahat walang iwanan sa mga kasamahan. It seems our present military generals ay wala ng mga honors puro spokemen lang at mga kurakot lang ang alam.

      • Ibig mo sabihin, pati mga kasuotan nila ay props lang? Katulad nun mga naglalaro ng video na ang gagaling bumaril, ibig mo sabihin di rin sila kayang makipag barilan sa tunay na bakbakan? Sayang na lang at wala na si FPJ at nakakulong si Bong at retired na yata si Lito at hindi rin pwede pumasok ng ibang teritoryo si Joseph at kundi ay ubos silang lahat maski hindi dumating ang light armored brigade. Dapat yata ay si Robin ang tinawagan nila.

    16. What is imparted here is a big common sense of the situation under national security. Hoping all our leaders of consequence both civilian and military should seriously read and analyze for countrys’ sake. It sounds closes to the truth which demands some immediate action.. My congratulations to Mr. Yen Makabenta for speaking your mind on this matter.

    17. Jose A. Oliveros on

      Unfortunately, Mr. Makabenta, PeNoy’s speech was the exact opposite of what you had wished in your column. Kulang na lang sisihin yung mga PNP-SAF sa pagkamatay nila.

    18. Pnoy f**** up! Purisima underestimated the MILF and BIFF capability. Former president Ramos observed several factors that contributed to why the covert operation failed.

      F**** the peace negotiation. I don’t think the Muslim extremist and criminal elements will become law abiding citizens of the Philippines after the BBL will be passed and the President sign it into a law. The next thing they will ask is an independent Muslim State in Mindanao just like the other Muslim separatist groups in other countries. Government leaders have to understand the Muslim’s thinking and how their faith influence their behavior.

      If you ask our generals (active and retired) majority of them would probably support an all out war against these lawless elements. But at the same time, other government agencies and politicians should get their act together to provide basic services to the neglected Muslim communities. Until they will see that the government are just going after the Muslim criminal elements and terrorists and also they are not being neglected by the government, we might have a chance for a lasting peace in Mindanao.

    19. The simple solution to Mindanao problem is total war not peace., I do not trust all the armed group s of Mindanao. Only in the Philippines that our law enforcers need to notify MILF if you are serving an arrest warrant in their territory. PI PI PI anong klasing arrangement. yan.

    20. The massacre of 40 or more SAF commandos in the hands of treacherous MILFs portends that the favorite brainchild of PNOY- BBL. is a lot of baloney, a lot of stupidity, a lot of political amateurism where PNoy entrusted our sovereignty to his stupid negotiators – Deles and Ferrer just to please the MILF. Recalling the words of Gen. Jonathan Wainright when the Philippines was still a Commonwealth, he said: “A dead Moslem is a good Moslem.” Any Muslim, by their nature and upbringing are traitors. They twisted the teachings of their Quran. Their Quran is divided into chapters or Surah. In Surah 9:5 states: “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters (idolaters are those non-Muslims or non-Quranic believers) wherever you find
      them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.” The MILFs waited and ambushed them without mercy. This is another “kapalpakan” of PNOY. He has lots of them. What need is there for PNOY to continue honoring the passage of BBL in Congress. His rubber stamp Congress should throw away that scrap of paper (BBL) to the dustbin and burn them. And PNOY has now the basis to declare an all-out war against the MILF and all other marauders who had been besieging our hapless citizenry for years. Is PNOY the balls to do it? I doubt. Let’s wait and cross our fingers and wait another “kapalpakan.”

    21. The President insists in having the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by Congress.
      We now are faced with prospects of a heightened war owing to the withdrawal of support by his own men in both houses of the legislature..
      You nailed it right that passage of the bill is now unrealistic or at best dead on its tracks— what with its constitutional infirmities and vehement objections of the non-Muslims residing in the area.
      That’s why the gruesome massacre of our elite forces took place to begin with.
      As we say it down South— PORBIDA— !!!

    22. Sa harapan ni Aquino ay isa-isang pinapatay ang mga ang ating police,wala silang ginawa para pigilan ito ngayon sila mismo ang nagplano nito!
      Bakit hindi nila inutusan tulungan at sagip ng army natin na malapit sa lugar na! pinangyarihan!ngayon tumagal ng mahabang oras ang laban daw!
      Malamang na onse ng MILF si Aquino na tutulong sa paghuli ngayon sila pala ang kalaban!
      Impossibleng makalapit ang MILF sa kanila kung 300 na saf ang totoong kasama!
      Nasaan ang mahigit 200 SAF ng mangyari ang sagupaan!!
      Kung ang pangulo ang nagplano bakit hindi siya tumawag ng army ngayon minamassacre na ang SAF?
      Kailangan managot sina Aquino, purisima at Ochoa sa nangyari!
      Higit sa lahat kailangan may managot nito sa MILF!

    23. Discard that BBL.
      Keep the MNLF Autonomous Region by Nur Misuari.

      Forget all about that MILF- Bangsamoro peace process.

      Let Erap finish these rebels by sending him back to the Palace.

    24. sonny dela cruz on

      I listened to the President speech and I was so dismayed that he did not defend the government action against the Moros. He should defend the SAG police action as the government side whether is right or wrong because he is the Commander in Chief. He is more focus on the Moros side to have a Bangsamoro law than condemmed the Moros action. Now is the time for Ex-president Fidel Ramos to jump into action to call his Generals and Junior Officers to kick-out President Aquino out of Malacanan and head the Military Junta. Since he was the Ex-president, then he knows how to run the government. Filipino people should rally behind Pres. Fidel Ramos to take back the country and give it back to the Filipino people. Amen

      • A military junta may be needed to get Aquino from doing anymore damage and save our country. The killers must be brought to justice and peace and order must be restored.

    25. Who is going to undertake the formal inquiry? The administration? The MILF? The International Monitoring Group? Or collectively by them? Forget it. Their agenda are assymetrical. The truth will never come out. Where the policy is appeasement, nothing truthful will come out.

      If the military and the police are really capable AND NOT COWARDS, why don’t they saturate (comb) that area and similarly-situated areas. And to hell with those “self-proclaimed peacemakers”!

      Or, in desperation, transform the MILF, BIFF, Abu Sayyaf, etc. into a Philippine Military. They seem to be the better motivated fighters than the current crop of policemen and soldiers.

    26. Perhaps, what DILG Secretary meant when he said that there was a “mis-encounter” is that: “their minds as main players never met” simply because they were not “on the same page”; or, they were not talking with each other.

      Some big questions are: How can a suspended PNP Chief be involved in such an operation?. How can such big and risky operation be accomplished without a plan for back-up? Given a choice, I am sure everyone of the dead SAF members (and their families) would rather choose to be alive than heroes, with the way they died.

    27. The Philippines should not be stupid to negotiate “peace” with terrorists and rebels while there is a ceasefire.
      The Philippines should not relinquish its freedom by discriminating against its own citizens by granting more favors to a group of terrorists and rebels.
      It is treason to negotiate “peace” with those rebels whose ultimate aim is to acquire Philippine territory.
      They are simply our enemies. And, Congress and the Executive should declare WAR against the enemies of the nation.
      It is grossly disappointing that majority and leaders of the Senate and Lower House of Representatives (Congressmen) are bereft of simple common sense and wisdom to defend our Lupang Hinirang at Handang Mamatay dahil saiyo Inang Bayan!
      We must defeat and obliterate our enemies who have killed many of our own sons and daughters.
      Today, a sad Philippine Tragedy directly smacks our face, each and everyone of us Filipinos! – countless of our Filipino mothers lost their sons and daughters!