President Benigno Aquino 3rd, rallied on Friday the Filipino public to “the fight for peace,” as a tribute to those who have fallen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“Sa lahat po ng nakikisanib sa atin sa paghahangad ng kapayapaan: Desidido kaming ituloy ang laban (To those who are with us in the pursuit of peace: we are determined to continue the fight),” Aquino said in a broadcast address to the nation on February 6.
In an anti-terrorism operation last Jan. 25, the SAF neutralized Malaysian international terrorist Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, also known as “Marwan,” while his Filipino cohort Basit Usman managed to escape. However, 44 SAF commandos were killed in an ensuing firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“At gusto ko rin naman pong sabihin sa mga humaharang sa ating adhikain, lalo na ang mga gumagamit ng dahas: Itaga ninyo sa bato, lalo pa ninyong madarama ang pinatalas at pinatinding lakas ng nagkakaisang sambayanang Pilipino (And I say to those opposed to our objective, especially those who resort to violence: Mark my words, you will feel the sharpened and strengthened might of a unified Filipino nation),” he added.
“Manatili sana tayong nakatutok sa ating pangunahing layunin: Ang malawakan at pangmatagalang kapayapaan (Let us all remain focused on our primary goal: a widespread and lasting peace),” Aquino reminded the public.
“Ito ang ipinaglaban ng Special Action Force sa Mamasapano. Ito ang patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng bawat disenteng Pilipinong gustong mag-iwan ng mas magandang kinabukasan para sa mga susunod na henerasyon. Sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaisa at pagtutulungan, matatamo natin ang katarungan, masusuklian natin ang sakripisyo ng ating kapulisan, at matutupad natin ang ating kolektibong mga pangarap (This is what our Special Action Force fought for in Mamasapano. This is what every decent Filipino who wishes to leave behind a better future for coming generations continues to fight for. Through solidarity and partnership, we can attain justice, pay tribute to the sacrifices of our policemen, and turn our collective dreams into reality).”
The President noted the challenges faced by the peace process. “Hindi po madali ang landas tungo sa kapayapaan (The path to peace is not easy to tread),” he said. “Marami nang Pilipino ang nagbuwis ng buhay para labanan ang mga nais magpatuloy ang dahas at hidwaan. Ang pinakaayaw magkaroon ng digmaan ay ang mga pulis at sundalo, dahil sila ang una at pinakamalaki ang sakripisyo kapag nagkagulo (Many Filipinos have given their lives in the fight against those who wish for continued violence and discord. It is our policemen and soldiers who are the most opposed to war, precisely because they are the first in line, and because they make the greatest sacrifice when fighting breaks out).”
MILF remains a partner in justice, peace.
The President also reaffirmed his trust in the MILF as a peace partner, and categorically stated that he expects the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to assist in the capture of the terrorist Basit Usman in the name of justice. Aquino also lauded moves by the MILF to contain the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as a good first step after the incident in Mamasapano.
“Sa mga kasapi at liderato ng MILF: Mula pa noong umpisa, tinuturing ko kayo bilang mga kapatid sa paghahangad ng kapayapaan. At hanggang ngayon, umaasa ako na tutulong kayo na hanapin ang hustisya; kailangang panagutin ang lahat ng may sala, lalo na kung totoong may mga sugatan at hindi makalaban na tuluyan pa ring pinatay (To the members and leadership of the MILF: From the onset, I have considered you brothers on the path to peace. Until now, I am confident that you will help us in seeking justice; that those who have done wrong should be held to account, especially if it is confirmed that there were SAF troopers who were executed despite being wounded and defenseless).”
“Magandang unang hakbang ang pagkilos ninyo upang limitahan ang kilos ng BIFF (Your efforts to limit the movement of the BIFF are a good first step),” he added. Aquino, however, remained firm on the continuing hunt for Usman.
“Ukol naman kay Usman, nais kong ipahayag: Kung nasa loob siya ng inyong teritoryo o nasa ilalim siya ng pangangalaga ng sinuman sa inyo, inaasahan kong isusuko ninyo siya sa mga awtoridad (If he remains within your territory, or is protected by one of your members, we expect you to surrender him to the authorities),” Aquino said, addressing the MILF. “Kung hindi, ay gawin ang lahat upang tumulong sa pagdakip sa kanya. At kung hindi pa rin maaari ito, ay huwag makialam sa aming pag-uusig kay Usman (If not, we expect you to do everything you can to help capture him. And if even this is not possible, do not interfere with our pursuit of Usman).”
“Magsilbi sana itong babala at paalala: Huhulihin namin si Usman, anuman ang maging desisyon ninyo, sino man ang kumukupkop sa kanya, at saan man siya nagtatago (May this serve as a warning and a reminder: We will get Usman, whatever you decide, regardless of who provides a safe haven for him, regardless of where he may be hiding),” Aquino said firmly. “Walang dapat magduda: Magkatuwang ang adhikain natin para sa kapayapaan at katarungan. Sa mga naliligaw naman ng landas, na magtatangka pang humadlang sa pagtugis namin kay Usman, tandaan na ninyo: Estado ang kalaban ninyo, at sasagasaan namin kayo (Let no one doubt: We are partners in pursuing peace and justice. To those who have lost their way, who would still stand in our way, remember this: You are fighting the State, and we will run you over).”
Aquino also stressed that while the country will continue to push for peace, accountability for the incident will also be exacted.
“Tulad ninyo, gusto ko ring malaman ang buong nangyari sa pagkakataong ito, at buo ang tiwala kong lilitaw ito sa isang masusi at walang-kinikilingang imbestigasyon ng Board of Inquiry. Inaabangan po natin ang resulta nito (Like you, I want to know the whole truth behind this incident, and I have complete confidence that the truth will be uncovered through the comprehensive and unbiased investigation of the Board of Inquiry. We are awaiting its results),” he said.
“Tinitiyak ko naman po sa inyo: Ginagawa natin ang lahat para malaman ang buong katotohanan. (I assure you: We are doing everything to uncover the truth),” Aquino said. “Anumang mabubuong ulat ay magbibigay sa atin ng mahahalagang aral, upang masigurong hindi na mauulit pa ang trahedyang ito. Magkakaroon ng mga pagbabago (The report that will emerge from this investigation will provide invaluable lessons, to ensure such a tragedy will never happen again).” PNA