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.