Our national shame: Aquino got away with his Mamasapano ‘alternative truth’



    IF you’re wondering where on earth US President Donald Trump’s spokespersons got the totally insane notion of “alternative facts” to counter media reports that the new President’s inauguration drew one of the smallest crowds ever for such an event, you don’t have far to look.

    It was the former President Benigno S. Aquino who invented this cockeyed concept, using the more harebrained, oxymoronic “alternative truth”. In Aquino’s case, though, he used that term with regard to a vastly more serious issue, the massacre of 44 Special Action Force policemen two years ago today by Moro insurgents.

    In his attempt to clear himself of complicity in the massacre, to argue that Moro Islamic Liberation Front insurgents were not involved in it, and to raise doubts on the findings both of Senate and Philippine National Police investigations, Aquino told the officials and journalists of the then slavishly pro-administration Philippine Daily Inquirer in his exclusive audience with them September 8, 2015 that there was an “alternative truth” to the debacle. The newspaper reported:

    “The President said the photo of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias ‘Marwan,’ showing him dead in his hut …. ‘posed many questions and that is what we want to resolve… There are certain quarters who did point out certain questions that arose from viewing that picture. Does this support the so-called official version of what transpired? Now, if it doesn’t support [the official version], can it be explained or not? That is an ongoing process. There is no conclusion at this point’.”

    Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Sept. 9, 2015 scoop on Aquino’s “alternative truth.”

    Two years after the massacre though, Aquino has never explained what his “alternative truth” was. However, his media operators spread the canard that it was the SAF, and especially its commander Getulio Napeñas, who brought the tragedy on themselves because of their errors of judgment and boo-boos. An “alternative version” was even spread that it wasn’t even the SAF that had killed Marwan but his aide who wanted to collect the $5 million reward offered by the US.

    By several accounts, Aquino was paralyzed into total inaction that he failed to call for reinforcements, especially his air assets—as even President Duterte recently pointed out—that whole tragic day. He was informed that the SAF troopers had been pinned down by gunfire in the early morning of that day, yet he didn’t lift a finger in the eight hours that the battled raged.

    Shocked by events
    He was apparently shocked by the turn of events, as he was in Zamboanga City that day expecting that the operation, intended to capture the international terrorist Marwan, would be successful and mark a high point of his presidency. The plan was for him to helicopter to Cotabato City to congratulate the troops, and of course himself.

    I tend to believe though the September 6, 2015 report by Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dante Ang, that police and army reinforcements were on the way to rescue the SAF troopers, and their commander asked Aquino for his final approval. Aquino, however, replied: “Negative. Negative. negative. Stand down.”

    Why did he do this? He was convinced by his advisers on the peace talks that an escalation of the battle would torpedo the negotiations for an end to the insurgency of the MILF, which he was convinced would win him the Nobel Peace Prize. (Indeed, the prize was awarded in September 2016 to Colombia President Juan Santos who struck a peace agreement with his country’s biggest insurgent organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.)

    It is our national shame that Aquino was not held accountable for the massacre of 44 of our best troops. It wasn’t for lack of a smoking gun to prove Aquino’s complicity, which was most likely in the possession of the telecom firm Smart Communications.

    Aquino had ordered Gen. Alan Purisima to supervise the operation, even if he had been suspended by the Ombudsman as PNP chief, which itself is a crime the former President should have been made to account for. In the Senate investigation of the massacre, Purisima submitted a transcript of what he claimed was the exchange of SMS messages between him and Aquino on that fateful day, as he supervised the operation.

    His first message was at 5:45 a.m., which reported that Marwan was killed, although the body was left behind. Purisima sent seven more text messages, his last at the end of the day, at 6:20 p.m.

    Last message?
    Aquino first replied to Purisima’s message at 7:36 a.m., not to ask how the SAF troopers were but to inquire why Marwan’s body was left behind and if the terrorist’s trainee in bomb-making, Basit Usman, was also killed – queries which show that the President was privy to the details of the operation. Aquino sent a total of only four messages, the last, according to Purisima, was at 10:16 a.m., “Basit should not get away.”

    NO WORRIES Aquino, Roxas, and Gazmin in Zamboanga City, January 25, 2015, while the 44 SAF troopers were being pinned down and massacred, pretending nothing was happening.

    That this was Aquino’s last message, and that he sent only four messages is impossible and illogical.

    Aquino couldn’t have abruptly ended his communication with Purisima at 10:16 a.m. Aquino himself said in in his impromptu speech before the SAF on Jan 31, 2015, that “he was receiving reports the whole day” on the ongoing firefight – and Purisima was his only source of reports.

    The most crucial hours of the firefight were around midday, when the SAF 55th Company commandos were one by one massacred. After 10:16 a.m., Aquino didn’t bother to SMS Purisima any longer?

    That was the life-or-death period when Purisima would have told Aquino how desperate the situation of the SAF troopers was, and when Aquino, the Commander in Chief, should have issued his crucial orders to save them.

    Purisima obviously lied, to protect his boss, when he claimed that Aquino’s last message was at 10:16 a.m. Why would he claim this? Because Aquino’s messages would have indisputably shown that he ordered his forces to stand down.

    Deleted Aquino’s messages
    Purisima most probably deleted Aquino’s messages after 10:16 a.m., although neither the Senate nor the PNP bothered to subpoena Purisima’s cellphone, from which it could have been determined if there were messages that were deleted that day.

    But modern technology could have easily disclosed the truth. Smart Communications, the operator of the cellphones that Aquino and Purisima used, has confirmed that it stores the logs — but not the messages — of SMSs sent through its system.

    These would have shown whether or not there were other SMS messages exchanged between the cellphones of Aquino and Purisima, or between the President and his other officials that day. It would be a smoking gun if the logs showed there were other SMS exchanges between the two that Purisima did not include in his affidavit.

    Of course, the Senate then, controlled by Aquino, didn’t ask Smart to submit its log of SMS messages between Aquino and Purisima on that tragic day.

    What kind of country have we become that our leaders protected Aquino, that the souls of the 44 massacred SAF troopers continue to cry from their graves for justice to this very day?

    E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
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    1. Homer Trinidad on

      If Noynoy Aquino does not land in jail in the next six months it would be one failure of the Duterte administration to bring justice to the SAF 44 and their families. A very important function of government is to demonstrate to all that crime does not pay. Aquino and Purisima are clearly the principal criminals in the Mamasapano debacle. They used our specially trained police commandos for their own purposes and then left them high and dry when they got ambushed by much more superior force of numbers and firepower.

    2. Michael Samuels on

      While reading some part of this article, someone said he saw the inn Jesus stayed in in Nazareth, another saw something that made him sing part of Battle Hymn of the Republic [from America] as the Philippines are a Republic.

      Pray about Genesis 1: 10

    3. Mamasapano encompasses the many types of Govt corruption originating from the top and all the way down. Uncovering the truth will uncover the corruption.. President, Senate, Ombudsman and all should all be held accountable, including inaction. Failing to do so is embarrassing and sets a tone that the country of the Philippines is as corrupt as a drug cartel organization and should not be trusted.

    4. I agree with you Mr. Tiglao. No matter what line of arguments of these so called protector of Pnoy, being Commander-in-Chief (police and military knows and understand the concept and or principle), Mr. Aquino was liable of inaction, suppressing the truth, letting his policemen died, negligence, lack of leadership or lack of emphaty because of selfish motive, talagang walang alam. This character has been clearly shown during the “Luneta Siege” and whose to be blame the spin doctors, the Filipinos blinded by raw power and money. Mr. Tiglao you been around and have access in the corridors of power, but lets be honest or time to say something what is really happening in that corridors. Starting from his Father Nonoy, (or maybe from his grandfather) to mother Cory, then followed by Ramos, and this Pnoy the son. What a waste of time–whether you and some would accept it…Philippines is spiraling down that it will take years or forever to recover, given by the endemic corruption and lack of discipline among our people including the youth whose to be inheriting the mantle of rolling this country one day. If we Filipinos are always tempered with hero worship and medias bias. We will be a Third World forever.

    5. Penoy may have failed in his desire to land the peace Nobel Prize which he think he justly deserve, its more timely that he be given an AWARD BEST SUITED FOR HIM at this time, coming from the PHILIPPINE NATIONAL MENTAL INSTITUTE. THEY MAY CALL IT ABNOY AWARD in war and in peace.

    6. “Of course the Senate, then controlled by Aquino, didn’t ask Smart to submit its log of messages between Aquino and Purisima on that tragic day”.
      While deeply sympathizing with the SAF commandos and their families, and decrying the conduct of Aquino, this statement goes to show the seeming lack of neutrality of the Senate when the Senators are too deeply aligned with the President of the day.

      Mr.Tiglao, all the more you should ensure that similar Mamasapanos do not occur because the Senate is now controlled by Duterte. So while you correctly seek justice for the families of the SAF 44 soldiers, do also ensure you use your columns to fairly and objectively criticize or praise Duterte as each situation deserves instead of merely singing his praises even when not justified. The country needs truth and objectivity and Duterte as President is a servant of the people not its master.

      – are just FALSEHOODS (like FAKE news, position/work/job/project, faith/religion, character/attitude, relationship/love, etc.

      Is there such a thing as an “alternative fact”? Is this another way to say “facts which present an alternative view”?

      Trump, speaking to crowd after the election, “I won by a landslide.” Of course he did — in the universe where getting 2 million votes less than your opponent is a “landslide”.

      It’s often called “Official Truth”. Cf the etymology of the Russian word Правда.

      Gerald Massey — ‘They must find it difficult, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority.’

    8. Blame it to PNP DG and Commander in Chief of AFP. The SAF soldier’s should be given Justice, proper compensation money, house and lots, live hood project and education. To moros butcher give them also live hood project like hog raising.

    9. Now President DU30 will find out and make known everything that happened in the massacre of the SAF44.

    10. Blame it to incompetent commander of AFP BS Aquino. The massacred SAF soldiers should be properly compensated, should be given house and lot , education program. To inhuman Moro give them live hood project of hog raisin .

    11. It will take time before we can recover from this National Shame. Morales and De Lima will be scourge even to their grave. And Senator Poe will be haunted by the soul of the SAF 44 by presenting a half bake report.
      President Duterte will be tested on how he could help deliver justice and closure among the families of SAF 44.

    12. Duterte definitely is an alpha male, but do these two clowns in the picture look like alpha males to you? Without Smartmatic, I wonder how many votes they will get if they ran for dogcatcher ?