SUSPENDED PNP Chief Alan Purisima finally reveals that indeed he informed PNoy as early as 545h of 25 January 2015 that OPLAN Wolverine was already being implemented by SAF elements and Marwan had been killed but 2nd target managed to escape as SAF troopers were met by heavy gunfire. PNoy replied two hours later at 746h with the question why the 2nd target was left behind. But let us not just focus on Purisima’s text messages to PNoy because he was also getting text messages from other sources. General Guerrero revealed during the Senate investigation that he texted the President at around 800h to inform him that troops were there already ready to assist the SAF troops.
Exchange of text messages went on until PNoy boarded the plane for Zamboanga the last of which was “Basit (Usman) should not get away” for Purisima. At about the same time, Secretary Roxas, Secretary Gazmin and Gen.
Galvez of the Ceasefire Coordinating Panel were also receiving messages from various sources informing them of the incident.
Now it also appears that in fact, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government and the Defense Department knew about the operations early in the morning and yet nothing was done except to say “reply with more details.” Secretary Roxas received a text message from the PNP Director of Intelligence (why not from OIC PNP Espina?) at 743h. He forwarded the message to PNoy at 809h.
Just curious, if Roxas did not truly know about the operations, did he not bother to ask PNoy about the operations during the flight to Zamboanga. Did he not feel a sense of urgency and that it was his right to know now considering that lives have been lost already? The same question goes for Secretary Gazmin. I am sure that somehow, PNoy talked to them about this even with the Time-on-Target theory in place. And so a plan could have been hatched already for implementation by the time they landed in Zambo. Gen. Espina came to know about it at 530h when General Purisima called him up at 530 am. They all could have done something to save the SAF troopers even if they were not part of the operational plan.
What boggles the mind is why there did not seem any sense of urgency to find out how grave the situation was and why it was dismissed as an ordinary encounter?
The Senate inquiry of February 9 reveals through the testimony of AFP chief Gregorio Catapang that indeed, the military did not grant the artillery support requested by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) during the Mamasapano operation not only because innocent people would be hit by it, but also because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) might think that “we are back to war.”
Testifying before a joint committee hearing at the Senate, relieved SAF commander GetulioNapenas said that as early as 7:53 a.m. of January 25, 2015, he already requested “artillery support” from the military for his men who were engaged in a heavy firefight during the operation.
He said he first made the request to SAF officer in charge Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño and gave him the grid coordinates of his troops in Mamasapano.
But Napenas said Taliño’s reply to his request was : “Sir, as of now, nega (negative) daw muna ang artillery…” adding that innocent people, including children, might be hit by it.
“I also texted General Espina and General Purisima, the same content and I gave the location of my troops…My troops were pinned down and there were casualties. I asked if we can get artillery support,” the relieved official said in Filipino, responding to queries of Senator Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito.
But Catapang said the military responded immediately to the SAF’ request for reinforcement. Asked if it was true that the military considered the ongoing peace talks with the MILF, Catapang reiterated his earlier statement “In as much as we have a peace process, we don’t want to endanger these things because pagsinugod po natin ang MILF, they might think that we are back to war. So ayaw po naming mangyari yun dahil parang sunog po yan, kung hindi po natin na-managed, baka hanggang sa Lanao, buong Central Mindanao magkaroon na po tayo ng skirmishes sa MILF,” he further said.
Was the delayed response of the AFP a vacillation or deliberate? And if so, was this because of the strategic guidance coming from the Commander in Chief? It has been reported that text messages being exchanged stating that instructions emanating from the President were to extricate the beleaguered troops at best effort instead of at all costs. A decisive action coming from the Commander in Chief could have prevented the confusion arising from the lack of coordination between the SAF and AFP. Most likely, the 44 SAF troopers could have been saved. And knowing that the terrain was swampland, wouldn’t it have been more prudent to call in for air support first before the artillery unit came in? We now know that while reinforcement came, albeit belatedly, it was not to engage the MILF and BIFF but to extricate the beleaguered SAF troopers.
God is Great!