GEN. Getulio Napeñas, the relieved commander of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police, may not realize it but he actually diminished the luster of his command when he said he received no order to stand down (back off?) while 44 of his men were being massacred by a combined force of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter.
His claim of not receiving any order to stand down also negates his declaration that they would rather lose their lives than their honor.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why the rest of the SAF men involved in the Mamasapano raid didn’t help their encircled comrades-in-arms. Not after hearing Napeñas declare that his SAF commandos would rather die than lose their honor. If there were no orders to stand down (back off?), then why didn’t they go and help their comrades? A case of cold feet? Fear of being killed? But Napeñas said they would rather die than lose their honor.
I don’t want to believe that the remaining SAF men merely stood there helplessly while their comrades who had reportedly ran out of ammo were being mercilessly mowed down. I want to believe that the SAF is a “Band of Brothers.” But unless Napeñas recants his testimony before the Senate panel headed by Sen. Grace Poe, he’ll soil the reputation of his command.
If the greater number of SAF commandos were also engaged in a heavy firefight with the MILF and BIFF, how come there’s no report of casualty on their side? And why should they be angry at the Philippine Army for not reinforcing their fellow SAF commandos when they themselves could not do so?
Their anger, their resentment is real. Their tears at the death of their comrades were real. So why didn’t they help when they could have done so? The most plausible explanation could be read in the column of Dr. Dante Ang Sr., our publisher emeritus, which stated how there was an order to stand down so as not to jeopardize the peace process.
I hope Napeñas will give a second look at his testimony for the sake of his former command and his massacred comrades-in-arms.
The hearing last Monday showed that Napeñas was ready to become the sacrificial lamb just to get some superiors off the hook. And resigned PNP Chief Gen. Alan Purisima tried to pin the blame completely on Napeñas by denying that he gave an order to keep the Army, and the acting PNP chief in the dark until the operation to get Marwan was underway.
Purisima said he merely advised Napeñas. But in the same breath, he said that he merely followed the operation plan not to inform these higher commands. Which is which? If it’s in the operation plan of Napeñas, then Purisima need not “advise” him on this.
Purisima’s denial of getting involved in the Oplan to get Marwan after his suspension was torn to pieces by the testimony of Napeñas that they met at Purisima’s White House office inside Camp Crame in January, or after Purisima’s suspension. Purisima’s claim that he merely listened defies credulity. That the meeting was held in his office already speaks volumes of his active involvement.
The absence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at the Senate hearing was also suspicious. The hearing should have given the group a golden opportunity to mend fences, to restore broken trust. They may justify the firefight but how do they justify the mutilation of the commandos? Will they be willing to surrender those who murdered the Fallen 44 and return their stolen belongings and weapons? They’ll be made to swear before the Koran before they could testify and I hope they can show their faith by telling the whole truth. But first, they must appear at the hearing.
The missing patrol boats
Last week, a Chinese Navy vessel rammed the boats of Filipino fishermen off the coast of Bajo de Masinloc. China, which also claims sovereignty over the islet, said the Filipino fishermen were poaching in the area.
This reminds me, the acquisition of more patrol boats could have helped the Philippines in pursuing its present claim. Ah, but hadn’t the Philippines ordered 15 patrol boats from Spain in 2001? I was informed that only 4 of the 15 were delivered but the entire amount of $38.5 million was paid. And where are the four patrol boats? “Resting in peace in Bajo de Masinloc” according to my source.
This isn’t an issue that could be pinned on former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, right, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon?