The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to “make a stronger stance by suspending the Bangsamoro Basic Law and putting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership to task in surrendering terrorist Basit Usman.”
The TUCP, which is the largest confederation of labor groups in the country, said a stronger action from Aquino will mean a lot to the majority of Filipinos who mourned the 44 members of the Philippine National Police–Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) that were killed by members of the MILF and the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on January 25 in Mama-sapano, Maguindanao.
“What we expected the President should have done is to directly respond to the growing but unaddressed deep-seated clamor for justice by suspending the BBL deliberations in the Senate and in the [Lower] House,” said Alan Tanjusay, the TUCP spokesperson.
Tanjusay said the President can take this stance until the MILF leadership will surrender Usman and the MILF commanders and mujahideens who were involved in the SAF 44 carnage. The return of all government-owned firearms, cellphones and personal effects belonging to the fallen policemen and the destruction of ammunition factories can also be made as conditions for a continued BBL deliberation.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, has suspended the deliberations and discussions on the provisions of BBL at his level although his counterparts in the Lower House have yet to do so.
Tanjusay said the President has to make a firm stand because he is already within the last critical 16 months of his tenure.
The TUCP also urged the MILF to join the government’s Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in crushing the BIFF.
“Genuine expression of sympathies and condolences about the incident is accompanied by overt acts of good faith. If they desire the Filipino people to continue to trust them [MILF leaders], then they should show sincerity first by bringing the BIFF militants as quickly as possible to the fold of justice,” added Tanjusay.
This as the Filipino indigenous peoples group Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) believed that President Aquino’s latest national address on the Mamasapano fiasco last Friday only placed the President in a “deeper quagmire of lies.”
“[He] keeps getting himself in trouble every time he opens his mouth about the catastrophic Mamasapano operations as he tries to pry himself from out from this mess,” Piya Macliing Malayao, Igorot spokesperson of Kamp said. “His lies are piling up, and he is way over his head in this fiasco,” she added.
Malayao also criticized Aquino for preempting the investigations on the incidents leading the to the Mamasapano massacre.
“There was no groundbreaking news on the second Noynoy Aquino National Address on the Mamasapano debacle. He did not take rightful accountability on the tragedy that was demanded of him by the public,” Malayao stressed.
She added that Aquino’s address on Friday is part of the whitewash of the ill-fated Mamasapano operations.
“Faced with mounting anger and disgust, Aquino tries to allay public outrage by admitting to some blame for the tragedy, but absolves himself and his well-established best friend Alan Purisima from accountability by laying it all on SAF chief Getulio Napeñas,” Malayao added.
“The President is lying,” Malayao said, “First off, he wants to make us believe that intelligence regarding the presence of two international terrorists in our lands came from the PNP. That is barefaced lie and preposterous at this point when the US participation in the operation has been unraveled,” she claimed.
“Secondly, Aquino still lies and denies that he is primarily responsible for the bungled operations being the over-all commander of the SAF operations in Mamasapano, and being the Commander-in-Chief of the AFP and the PNP. In his latest national address, Aquino solidified that he is using Napeñas as a scapegoat,” Malayao added.
“Aquino’s third big lie is to claim that it is the deviation from the original plan that caused this catastrophe, when it is clear that what transpired in Mamasapano was precisely the way that the operation was designed,” Malayao also further said.
Malayao pointed out that the engineers of Oplan Wolverine had all the essential information before they set out the SAF members into hostile ground.
“The masterminds of this operation knew fairly well that they were entering hostile territory in a difficult terrain, and they are pursuing international terrorists. The truth is, Aquino was willing to sacrifice the lives of 400 of his own troops, not to mention the other people caught in the crossfire, to capture two people who are wanted by the US government,” Malayao claimed.
Malayao said that the buck stops at Aquino as Commander-in-Chief.
“The grave transgression here was to give a go-signal to a plan that was doomed from the beginning. No good plan could result to such a wholesale-loss of lives and jeopardize a peace negotiation to boot. The SAF commandos were sacrificial lambs to Aquino’s servility to the United States’ war on terror,” she also said.
“This tragedy is a statement to the attitude of the Aquino administration towards the peace negotiation. The Aquino administration lacks sincerity and commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country,” Malayao said.
Meanwhile, Perry Mendoza, speaking on behalf of Kamp’s Baguio chapter “Tongtongan ti Umili” encouraged Cordillerans, who have lost at least 13 gallant and brave SAF commandos, to join the call for the resignation of Aquino over the weekend.