SAGA OF MAMASAPANO

To suffer thy own men

19

Last of four parts

THE guy who prepared the BOI report on the saga of SAF 44 has a gift for cinematic visualization, and if I were to direct the episode, I am pretty certain to come out with a piece incomparable with any I have done before.

By any reckoning, the scope is epic. Police commandos of the 84 SAC and the 55 SAC pinned down from all sides by a huge conglomeration of BIFF, MILF and other private armed groups (PAGs). In local parlance, the event is called pintakasi where armed forces of various affiliations join together to battle an intruder. Expectedly, as soon as Marwan was killed (“neutralized” in police lingo), the Main Effort Seaborne staged a get-away, with evidences of Marwan’s death secure in its hands. But as expected likewise, the pintakasi took place, an occasion well provided for by plans of reinforcement and artillery support from the military. Reinforcement and artillery support did not materialize, throwing both the 84 SAC and 55 SAC under the mercy of the pintakasi combatants.

The battlefield was a flat, clear, open vast expanse of cornfield and marshland that provided no cover whatsoever for the SAF troops in carrying out the firefight. Their only recourse was to hug the ground tight to avoid bullets from Muslim snipers and troops armed with rapid-firing heavy weapons, including mortars and M203 grenade launchers.


Under the clear, blue skies, the pintakasi conglomerates enjoyed a hundred percent advantage of familiarity with the terrain, and they used this advantage to the hilt.

According to Train, there was not a minute in the day-long gun battle when SAF did not suffer a hit.

Toward sunset, it began dawning on the SAF fighters that there was no way they could ever get safely through the enemy encirclement. And everyone started throwing in his own bravado, screaming his farewell while firing away.

“I love you, Mommy!” He gets a bullet on his head and drops dead.

“I love you, Baby!” cried another before dropping dead himself.

One commando made a most touching dramatization of the SAF cause, “I love Seaborne!”
Close to Train was Tabdi, the trooper who cut the index finger of Marwan. He jerked aside, positioning in such a way as to make him look like loading his rifle. Train was horrified to realize that Tabdi got a bullet shot through his head.

Truly pathetic were mutual implorations by the troopers to one another to bid them hello to their respective families when they got home.

One injured commando pleaded like a kid, “Huwag mo kaming iiwan, Sir.”

Train said, he never did. He said the least he could do was to make sure his men’s bodies got home.

These are the wealth of human touches that in the hands of consummate filmmakers like the late Celso Ad Castillo can make the Saga of SAF 44 a brilliant motion picture.

Not that the epic is over and ready for transforming into a film masterpiece. The reopening of the Senate investigation on the massacre can lead to revelations heretofore unknown and these revelations can make the parting voices of the fallen SAF 44 echoes actually of similar cries in both recent and distant memories.

The horrified wails and screams of some 3,000 victims of the 9/11 Twin Tower bombing in New York and of 5,000 navy men who perished in the sinking of US Battleship Maine off Havana Harbor in Cuba in 1898. The 9/11 incident created mass revulsion among Americans against international terrorism, paving the way for Congressional approval of America’s war adventure against Sadam Hussein in Iraq. On the other hand, the blasting of the Maine generated popular approval of US warring with Spain in Cuba in 1898.

But to cite an example more proximate to home, how did the Fil-American War begin in 1900? It began with the killing of two American sentries, an incident fanned among the American populace who as a consequence gave their blessing to American imperialists to colonize the Philippines thenceforth.

As it was in the beginning, so is it now. American tactics hardly have changed: sacrifice American lives in order to justify American aggression of another country. This is the methodology perceived by this column on the Mamasapano Massacre. There is a hidden US agenda there somewhere.

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19 Comments

  1. kahindic hindic talaga ang sinapit ng ating mga police sa kamay ng mga MILF at mga ibang rebelde na ka grupo ng MILF.

    Na sinakripisio sila dahil sa kagustuhan na magkaroon peace treaty with MILF.

    Malaking pagkakamali sa diskarte ng kung sinoman ang gumawa ng mission SAF 44.
    Dapat tingnan kung bakit walang backup, at kung meron, bakit walang tulong na nangyari. habang inaambus ang mga Police.

    Kailangan talaga na imbistigahin uli ang nangyari. Ito ay dahil hindi completo ang ginawa ni grace Poe. Sana may bagong evdencia sa nangyare.

    Dapat ikulong agad kung sinuman ang maysala para magkaron ng justicia pagkatapus
    ng patas na imbestigation.

  2. There were more or less 400 men made available for the operation; around 80 were sent to attack, got pinned down, and 44 eventually massacred (in a battle that lasted almost a full day – it took that long to finish them off). Granting that help was was witheld by other units, what were the rest ( the other 320 men who were a few hundred meter away) of the force doing? Medyo mahirap paniwalaan na hindi sila makalapit dahil sa tindi ng banatan (kaya nanuood na lang). Sa magkakaibigan nga, pag nalaman mong ginugulpi and mga kasamahan mo sa kabilang kanto, susugod at susugod kayo para tumulong, kesehodang mapahamak lahat.
    If the rest (the 300 plus SAF) engaged, one wonders if it would have been that easy to kill all of them. It would have taken those bandits more than a week to annihilate them all – if that was possible at all.
    So the question to the Ground Commander with regards those other 320 men available to him but were not to let go; was it because some higher authority prevented him from doing so?

  3. Is it possible that the US may have provided some information, especially video or transcripts of conversation to certain individuals recently as a leverage against benigno?

  4. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT PNOY DO NOT CARE FOR THE LIVES OF SAF44 TROOPERS.

    THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT 105 HOWITZER CANNONS AND FIGHTER BOMBER ARE OF NO USE IN THE MAMASAPANO SINCE IT WILL REALLY JEOPARDIZE THE PEACE PROCESS WITH THE MILF.

    THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE ARMY HAS NOT USED THEIR BASIC HEAVY ARMAMENTS LIKE THE 81MM MORTAR OR THE SMALLER ONE 61MM MORTAR.
    THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT FDC OR THE FIRE DIRECTION CONTROL IS OF NO USE WITH THE SAID MORTARS, WHY AS I SAID BEFORE THE ARMED ENCOUNTERS IS A FLAT TERRAIN AND CAN EASILY BE SEEN WHILE ON THE BUS RIDE GOING COTABATO CITY. 81MM MORTAR CAN BE FIRED EFFECTIVELY FROM THE MAMASAPANO (MAGANOY) BRIDGE TOWARDS THE ENEMY LINE FOR 2 ROUNDS TO DETERMINE THE EXACT ENEMY POSITION AND FOR FIRE EFFECT FOR AT LEAST 4 MINUTES BOMBARDMENT THE SAF 44 TROOPERS CAN EASILY CRAWL BACKWARD TOWARDS THE RIVER BANK.

    MY GOODNESS SEC. VOLTAIRE GAZMIN AND ARMY GENERALS WHERE ARE THE BASIC WEAPONS OF THE COMPANY OR PLATOON. SAID MORTARS CAN BE FIRED WITH A SEVEN (7) MAN TEAM NO NEED FOR THE BATTALION TO REINFORCE SAF TROOPERS.

    NASAAN NA BA ANG BUDGET PARA DITO NA WALDAS NA YATA.

    ALAM NINYO DURING MY STINT WITH THE PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY 1 COMPANY OF THE PC SOLDIERS REPLACE THE ENTIRE 1 BATTALION OF ARMY SOLDIERS IN KAUNAYAN, PATIKUL, SULU MY GOODNESS GABI GABI INAATAKE KAMI BUT WE WERE NOT OVERRAN BECAUSE OF THE MORTAR FIRE.

    THAT IS THE PC RANGER, ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED BUT NEVER OUTFOUGHT

    HINDI KASI KAMI COLLEGE GRADUATE NOON, WALANG ELIGIBILITY PURO HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE PERO ANG KALIDAD NAMIN GRABE.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Hindi kailangan maging high school o college graduate ang isang tao kung siya ay nagmamalasakit at nagmamahal sa bayang sinilangan. Patriotism o bayan muna bago sarili and isapuso natin. Pagpalain tayo ng Panginoon.

    • The SAF were not outnumbered by the MILF. The SAF is approx 340 plus and the MILF is 100 plus. Clearly SAF has the number and the element of surprise. The only credible answer is 300 plus SAF did not reach their position that will protect the 44 to be surrounded. In fact the MILF were the one that took the SAF position and mowed the SAF 44 to death. The 300 plus SAF that let their comrades die must must be court marshalled. Do you honestly think that a veteran SAF general Napenas will let his soldiers be surrounded ? Impossible,, only answer , there is a break in the command structure, the 300 plus SAF. Did not do their job and let their brothers die in the hands os MILF.

  5. Nelson Z, Longno on

    I did some research on the sinking of the battleship Maine. The Maine had a crew of 355 of which 253 were killed by the explosion that caused it to sink. This is nowhere near the 5000 that yo mentioned in your article. Please make corrections. Here is an article from Wikipedia about the sinking of the battleship Maine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Maine_%28ACR-1%29

    • Mauro Gia Samonte on

      By your information, I should stand corrected. Thank you. I’m pretty certain though I’ve come across the figure cited in Mark Twain, but why bother? It’s Twain who said: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”.

  6. and yet, bsaquino was all the time monitoring / watching exactly every single bullet that was hitting every saf commando falling one by one or 2or 3 at a time and remained stuck with his stand down order . OMG bsaquino should really answer for this preventable incident and grace poe who clearly guilty of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE should be invectigated herself

  7. Divide and rule: America will pit the Filipinos against each other so that they (the Americans) can get their hands on Mindanao and its resources.

    • Mauro Gia Samonte on

      CERTAIN MALFUNCTIONING IN THE EMAIL DELIVERY SYSTEM GOT THIS SIZEABLE PORTION OMITTED FROM THE ARTICLE WHICH YOU AND OTHER READERS MIGHT BE INTERESTED TO KNOW. READ:
      Certainly the BOI report limits US participation in Oplan Exodus to providing intelligence and medical assistance. It emphasizes no US combatant was in the operation. That’s precisely the cool thing about the whole matter. By being in control of intelligence, US actually has control over the operation effectively from start to finish.
      What is the operation in the first place but an execution of US-provided intelligence?
      And there just is no need to send in US armed troops in the implementation of Oplan Exodus. The SAF was all too willing – as a call of duty – to do it. Just their luck that they were into the goodie ole American strategy and tactics of suffering its own men in order to achieve a political end.
      Has Senator Enrile the gall to look into this angle? What he will be doing come January 27 is investigate. And investigation does not forbid tackling all possible angles. Tackle it, Senator, please. It’s actually one case of aiming for the moon but hitting the stars instead.
      This column has been on record of tracing the ultimate responsibility for the SAF 44 carnage to President Aquino. But in the peculiarity of Aquino’s presidency, the chain of command does not stop at him. It rises to the hand that turns the key on his back.

  8. “5000 navy men who perished in the sinking of US Battleship Maine off Havana Harbor in Cuba in 1898” says the author.

    261 was the number of casualties.

    Does the author have a hidden agenda in declaring 5000 men perished in the sinking of the Maine? The number just seems recklessly and ridiculously too far from the truth to be considered an honest mistake.

    • Mauro Gia Samonte on

      No hidden agenda really. I just recall coming across that figure in Mark Twain, but then again, as cited in response to reader Nelson Z. Longno, it’s Twain who said: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

  9. There should be a movie so people will wake up from this stupor how dastardly our SAF 44 were betrayed both from the enemy fire and from our military and our President. Otherwise, write a story. The lone survivor will best do it with the help of a writer. It will be called the BETRAYAL OF SAF 44. Pag hindi ba nagising ang taong bayan sa traitor na PResident natin and his minions, iwan ko lang. As guilty as the President are his Cabinet Secretaries who were with him in Zamboanga like Garmin, Mar Roxas, former Genral Catapang. These four including the President played a big role in the betrayal.

    • Sigurado na di papayagan yan ng MTRCB. Baka after six months na wala na sa pwesto si benigno ay makalusot ang script. Sigurado na box office yan. I hope those PNP people will participate and play their role in the film. Sino kaya ang magiging Manong Johnny at Lamangsares sa pelikula?

    • Note to Mar Roxas, even tho you were not informed by Pinoy, you are going to take part of the blame in this Mamasapano. That is the problem of being too connected with Pinoy and the Liberal Party. Even with the SSS problem, you are going to get hit. Look at the next rating. I do not know how you are going to win this election. It looks like this is MISSION IMPOSSIBLE for you. You made the wrong decision last election and then again, you are making the wrong decision in this election. People need change and you are not giving it to them. You are a good guy, no anomaly, no corruption. You are at the wrong place at the wrong time TWICE.