• Where the Mamasapano massacre really started


    In 2000, under then President Joseph Estrada’s orders, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes launched a two-month campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In July of that year, Philippine Marines overran its main camp and headquarters, Abubakr al Siddique, in Maguindanao.

    The camp was also where Hashim Salamat had lived for already a decade. With his camp in ruins and the Marines in hot pursuit of him, Salamat, then 68 years old, had to be constantly on the run. That took a toll on his health. He became sickly. In July 2003, the MILF’s legendary political, military, and religious leader died of a heart attack. The MILF’s boast that it had an army of 120,000 guerillas with impregnable camps proved to be an empty one.

    Fast forward to President Benigno S. Aquino’s rise to power. In August 2011, he flew to Japan for a dramatic, much-publicized meeting with the new MILF chairman, Ibrahim Murad, and his core leaders in a hotel near Narita Airport, Japan.

    It was billed as his “historic move” to end the insurgency. He was also trying to beat a deadline to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    In contrast, not even the then-feared Libyan strongman Moamar Gadafi could arm-twist Marcos with an oil embargo to go to Tripoli for the 1976 peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

    Aquino’s meeting with the MILF breathed new life to the Islamic insurgents, and its recruits swelled in a few months’ time to double its force that had been reduced to just 5,000 full-time guerrillas as a result of Estrada’s campaign. Murad, who was competing with vice-chairman Ghazali Jaafar for chairmanship of the Jihad Central Committee, cemented his leadership over the MILF.

    Newspaper’s banner story on the Tokyo meeting in 2011. It was his incompetence, it turns out, that gave them hope.

    Newspaper’s banner story on the Tokyo meeting in 2011. It was his incompetence, it turns out, that gave them hope.

    A year later, Aquino agreed to a “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro “ with the MILF, and then in March 2014, to a “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” which would in essence create a substate under the MILF’s rule. Aquino’s Administration in that agreement’s “Annex on Normalization” even recognized six MILF camps, including Camp Abubakar. (See my column, “Aquino pact restores, strengthens MILF camps,” Jan 30, 2014.)

    Left “in peace” by our military, the MILF has grown in both troop strength and military hardware. Its checkpoints in Maguindanao even bear huge signs that say “Bangsamoro Government.”

    By 2015, it could very easily mobilize troops to rout a 400-man Special Action Force commando, and massacre 44 of them after encircling them in a killing field in Mamasapano, near two of the MILF’s camps.

    Following is my column on Aug 18, 2011, more than three years ago when I was still with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, on Aquino’s “historic” meeting with the MILF chief:

    Republic downgraded in Aquino-MILF meet
    “MILF: NOY gave us hope,” this paper’s banner headline said recently, referring to President Aquino’s August 5 meeting in a Narita airport travelers’ hotel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

    Mr. Aquino indeed gave the insurgents a lot of hope—to make the MILF the core of a sovereign state. The meeting, in effect, put the MILF on the same category as the Philippine Republic—sovereign entities.

    The MILF’s statement on the meeting even refers to Mr. Aquino only as “President Aquino,” and nowhere in the statement is he referred to as President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Japanese Foreign Ministry could not but follow the MILF’s framing, saying in its congratulatory note: “Japan strongly expects that both parties will continue sincere talks.”

    Our government has become just another “party” in this conflict, no longer a state protecting its sovereignty.

    One is dumbfounded at how our 113-year-old Republic was downgraded in this episode to the level of an insurgent group that has at most 5,000 mostly part-time guerrillas that can operate only in a small territory in Central Mindanao, and which has been responsible for the deaths of at least 10,000 Filipino soldiers and civilians.

    Probably thinking that a meeting with the MILF head would be an accomplishment he could boast of in his July 25 State of the Nation Address, Mr. Aquino, the MILF statement disclosed, asked for the meeting in June. “Anywhere in the Philippines,” he told the MILF.

    Surprised by the invitation, but realizing it was for the Sona and, therefore, Mr. Aquino was on a tight deadline, the MILF sensed a tremendous political opportunity. It dilly-dallied, and then demanded that the government course the invitation through the Malaysian official “facilitator” for the peace talks. Then it told Aquino: Either a meeting outside the country or no meeting. Choose among Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or the United Kingdom as venue. It is amazing how an insurgent group sets the place and the time at its convenience for a meeting with the President.

    The MILF demanded a “series of consultations” to agree where the meeting would be. The days spent for this and for a very surprised Japanese government to make the necessary preparations derailed the calculation for the “historic meeting” to make it to the Sona in July.

    The MILF gloated over its political victory in having the meeting in Japan, declaring in its statement: “The meeting between the two leaders in a third-party country host is a significant political milestone in the MILF’s quest for Bangsamoro right to self-determination.”

    The MILF was so delirious with joy that Mr. Aquino committed such a blunder, it even went on to further humble the President by saying: “On the part of the MILF chairman, his acceptance of the invitation illustrates a high level of statesmanship.” An unelected rebel chieftain proved himself a statesman by agreeing to meet the representative of 94 million Filipinos?

    It has always been the fervent hope of any insurgent group for its leader to meet with the head of the state it is fighting, since such a meeting moves it closer in the public mind and in global perception to the status of a sovereign, with its members becoming what are called “state actors.”

    Aquino’s mother Cory had more sense in that she met in 1986 with the MNLF chief Nur Misuari in Sulu—in our country, in sharp contrast to our President slipping through the backdoor to a foreign land to comply with the MILF’s demand.

    Cory’s meeting was also a gesture of solidarity with and gratitude to the MNLF, which after all, dealt blows to the dictatorship, rather than, as the MILF described the Aquino-Murad encounter, a “historic meeting between two leaders.”

    Marcos had more sense in that the highest-ranking officer he sent to negotiate, and even sign the peace treaty with the MNLF was a defense department undersecretary.

    In Narita, the MILF faced a President and six Cabinet secretaries. (What in the world were Secretaries Florencio Abad and Cesar Purisima doing there? If not for the publicity, to offer money to the MILF?)

    Cory had more sense in making sure that no photograph of her meeting with Misuari was circulated. Now every MILF fighter would be proudly carrying a photo of Murad and Aquino smiling, to taunt our soldiers.

    The road to hell, it seems, is not only paved with good intentions, but littered with the mess of publicity-seeking incompetents.

    FB: Rigoberto Tiglao


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. Yesterday the MNLF. Today the MILF, Tomorrow the BIFF. BBL is not a guarantee for peace. BBL will become a breeding place for a strong, well-equipped Muslim rebel-brothers of ours.

    2. I strongly agree with you. He may have a good intention but the presidency is not for him. We need a strong fist and a legal strategy. This is not an ojt. Theres no room for mistake. He should be result oriented and have a clear vision. Unfortunately there is none.

      • In reality, PNoy does not have any “good intention”.

        The reason for pushing the peace agreement (BBL) is not really for the purpose of making peace. Rather, PNoy was just interested in the Nobel Peace Prize, and for other political interests (and possibly other personal interests). As a proof, just look at what happened in Mamasapano and how he deals with the terrorists. PNoy never listen to his’ “bosses'” cry.

    3. oliver vicente on

      The road to hell, it seems, is not only paved with good intentions, but littered with the mess of publicity-seeking incompetents.

      And our President is the biggest “publicity-seeking incompetent” there is.

    4. PNOY & LP aka his band of thieves wanted to fast track the BBL so they can claim it as their legacy. Indeed, MAMASAPANO Massacre and DAP – the biggest scam of all, summarizes this administration.

    5. Left “in peace” by our military, the MILF has grown in both troop strength and military hardware. Its checkpoints in Maguindanao even bear huge signs that say “Bangsamoro Government.”

      – This is the classic case of what is written in the Quran (Q 47:35):

      So do not falter, [do not] be weak, and [do not] call for peace (read salm or silm), that is to say, a truce with the disbelievers should you encounter them, when you have the upper hand…

      When the (Islamic) unbelievers have the upper hand, cry out for peace, but when you’ve gained strength and are ready to fight them, “do not falter, do not be weak, DO NOT CALL FOR PEACE.

      Time and time again, we’ve seen this pattern – the rebels call for peace! peace! when they don’t have the advantage. After the government accedes to their request and leave them be, after a while they attack. When will the government ever learn.

      As for PNoy pursuing “peace” in Mindanao just so he can receive the Nobel Peace Prize – tsk tsk tsk – such a selfish motive that cost the lives of at least 62 people and injured others.

      There can be no lasting peace when one side was created out of violence.

      Quran source: http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=2&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=47&tAyahNo=35&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2

      • All your comments are right! We must visit the ‘answeringmuslim’ website and learn from David Wood about the hidden agendas of their teachings!

    6. ConcernedCarolinian on

      I’m the from the Beautiful Island of Mindanao. Christian, living peacefully in our peaceful place which is Maramag, Bukidnon. I live their for 17 years of my existence. and now i’m 18. i feel pity to my beautiful island i want peace, i need peace and justice. especially to my kababayan who died recently last december 9, 2014 in RTMI bus Bombing cause by the terrorist bombing. and said, its their mission test my concern is, not to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law. coz i think if that bill will pass, that terrorist, rebels will terrorize my loving island. I’m not infavor with the all out war, because it is against the Law of God. i want peace not slaughter nor war. we are brothers and sisters. we need solutions to all of this not reproach. we need to unite in this situation :)

    7. francisco santos jr on

      Simply read the “group” name – Moro ISLAMIC Liberation Front (MILF) then BangsaMoro ISLAMIC Freedom Fight (BIFF) and its core – Jihad Central Committee.

      From the original Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which only wanted an “Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The MILF a break away faction from MNLF, is now towards an “Islamic State” Therefore the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a deception from the true intention of everlasting peace in Mindanao.

      How can there be two (2) governments (systems) in one country? only in the Philippine, if it happens. The Philippine Government is a “Presidential System” People elect their Leader. While BBL is “Parliamentary System” the elected representatives, choose the leader among themselves.

      NO TO BBL !!! war is in the horizon!!!! BBL is a DECEPTION toward an ISLAMIC State. NO to BBL!!!

    8. I totally agree with Mr. tiglao , let us all be very vigilant with regards to giving the MILF the right to self determination. Because it might altered the shape of the Philippine map. And will regret this event if BBL is push through. We might end us like some country in middle were the real peace is nowhere to be found.

    9. It is Stupidity on the pat of Aquino to appease those Terrorist. I have suspected that he Bribed the MILF/ISIS/Al Queda…for it has grown in size and strength. Our Tax money and U.S. Aid money may had been used , to financed the insurgency. People will not enlist the many, without getting something in return. These insurgents have families…where are they getting their finances to buy sophisticated arms?

    10. MIndanao became more hopeless with president’s “recognition” with MILF..This action simply means that the president is violating our constitution,,integrity as a nation..we should look at mindanao as part of the Philippines,,Why there is such thing as Bangsamoro government???..the MILF wants to occupy part of mindanao as their own…looking at anyway,MILF can not give development in MIndanao,they are just creating disorder at all times..all out war for all those militants!

    11. FERDINAND C. RAMA on

      what about durting the time of Arroyo, what he did after the success of Erap in his war agaisnt this moros rebels,she give it back to them adn you are part of the Arroyo administration during that time thats why you miss to mentiion that part of your story

    12. You want how to deal with our moro problem? Study the way the americans handle the same problem during the early years of the 20th century when they were calling the shot. Maybe a lesson or two will be learned from it.

    13. We can all pull our hair for the established and well-documented incompetence of the “Student Council Presidency” – an insult, therefore requiring an apology, to the majority of performing Student Councils in this country – but when such incompetence results in the Balkanization of this country, and betrayal of our men in uniform who had to die needlessly for one man’s obsession to project the impossible – a leader with courage, vision and integrity, the line has to be decisively drawn.

      To tolerate treason is and must never be, an option.

    14. BS Aquino is more concerned about the survival and integrity of their most cherished territory, the Hacienda Luisita. Anything outside of that land too precious to him is just a piece of soil that he can easily do away. Just look at how he poured and threw away billions of pesos out of the people’s money just to get even, humiliate and banish a sitting SC justice – all for the sake of his most beloved territory that us under threat.

      • Rosita B. Bulanadi on

        cannot agree more.. He is very self-centered, selfish man who will “kill” anybody who tramples on Hacienda Luisita, which is not even theirs, but the government’s. Where in the world does he get the “thick face” that he has?
        Giving away Mindanao is treason and the highest form of treachery to the Filipino people. He will be remembered in history as the president who cannot handle well the affairs of the government and the president who thinks “very small”.

      • Rosita B. Bulanadi on

        cannot agree more.. He is very self-centered, selfish man who will “kill” anybody who tramples on Hacienda Luisita, which is not even theirs, but the government’s. Where in the world does he get the “thick face” that he has?
        Giving away Mindanao is the highest form of treachery to the Filipino people. He will be remembered in history as the president who cannot handle well the affairs of the government and the president who depends on advisers for decisions.

    15. Aquino made a determination he could not control the south. So he decided to throw it away because it wasn’t worth his time. Breaking apart the Philippines is no barrier to him, because he believed he controlled everything and he could do anything. When he saw the PAP mission going badly, he decided to sacrifice the police and save the BBL. He has made so many bad judgements, it is plain to see that he does understand the right things to do in any situation.

    16. Gabriel Cristobal on

      Sometime in either the 2nd half of 1968, or 1st quarter of 1969, a skirmish occurred in downtown Cotabato City. The following morning, MANILA TIMES bannered: Muslim-Christian War Erupts in Cotabato City.

      As it turned out, it was three Muslim factions slugging it out amongst themselves.

      I was at the scene then, shopping for supplies for the seminary.

      Could Manila Times trace that headline?

    17. armando flores on

      The country is dangerously being run by a kindergaten in the actual school of public governance. EXPECT MORE TRAGEDY from aquino and his band of thieves in the government. He has to learn more from GMA her former colleague to avoid imprisonment after his term ends or forthcoming ouster.

      • yes! tama ka dyan! gusto na ni pinoy ibigay sa MILF ang mindanao..wala nman nagagawa MILF kundi pumatay ng mga tao..at mgtago ng mga wanted,,yan pangkabuhayan nila..hindi nga sila marunong mgbanat ng buto,,if u visit their areas in mindanao,wla nadevelop,,kahit mgbungkal ng lupa ay wala alam mga yan,,madaliang kabuhayan lang gusto..

      • It’s ok with me if Pnoy gives away Mindanao, provided he stay in Maguindanao after his term, So that he may experience the effect of his blunder! LOL

    18. Sa dinadami ng inaway ni Pnoy at binastos ngayon niya malalaman na kailangan niya pala ng kaibigan kakampi. Pati na mga kakampi niya sa senado at congreso ay biglang nanahimik up ang ipagtangol. All his ordered investigations will fall in deaf ear of the masses who will be asking for his head. The luneta incident is a classic example that exempted his partymate Alfredo Lim. Now his name is on the line fire and only his resignation or impeachment can cure.

    19. The massacre really started when GMA gave back to the MILF everything that Erap had won, effectively forsaking all the soldiers who lost their lives in that two month war. Isn’t that just as bad, if not worse than what this BS did to those soldiers in this Mamasapano Massacre? As for what happened in Libya, FVR and JPEnrile were also sent also sent there by Marcos but they stayed behind in Rome apparently because they were afraid Misuari was going to make good his threat to kill them there, so only Imelda and Carmelo Barbero proceeded to Tripoli.

      • GMA bashing ka na naman. it was not returned actually to the MILF. It was turned into a peace zone and the military kept their presence there. GMA may have acceded to some concessions in exchange for peace, but she did not hesitate to pursue and hit the Moro rebels when the lives and safety of her soldiers or civilians are being compromised. GMA has more balls than this idhiot in the palace. Haven’t you seen the fear in the eyes of these Moros who hastily left their homes when GMA put Maguindanao under military rule after the Maguindanao massacre? They know how the government acts when it seriously deals with insurgents and lawless elements. They know it full well because they experienced it.

      • Gma was the worst phantom president that we had… yep she got friendly with the barbaric Muslim rebels and gave away the camps won by erap…. it’s befuddles me how this these so-called intellects can be lopsidedly outwitted by a school dropout like erap……

    20. Carl Cid Inting on

      In the meantime, as the MILF go scot-free and laugh behind our backs, the army and the SAF are pointing fingers at each other for not intervening in the massacre.

    21. The SAF 44 died in defense of the Aquino peace agenda and the Aquino styled covert military ops!!! sori ha!!!!di sinadya!!!!

      • It is sad and tragic to say that the SAF 44 Heroes were just the sacrificial lambs to awaken us in our slumber, but I strongly believe that God make way to stop the bsa blunder and its cohorts. God loves our country that He will not let our beloved country be divided geographically! We are a noble race, no matter what trials and persecutions we are undergoing! Maybe, we are just undergoing purging and purification, just like mined gold nuggets.

    22. I bet the incompetent President will not resign and instead ask the bribed crocodiles in Congress and Senate to railroad the BBL, whitewash the SAF Massacre investigation and use all the lump sums in the new budget to repair the broken image before his last SONA in July this year. All the Filipino can do is to grumble only and cannot muster enough courage to protest and demonstrate because the millions poor cannot understand the real problem unlike what they did when they drove in millions during Pope Francis visit asking for miracles to solve their problem of why they are poor but they cannot understand it is the President’s incompetence and insensitiveness is making more Filipinos poor.

    23. Sir, what about the events that happened in between? 2001 through 2010. You purposely missed that out..

    24. vagoneto rieles on

      Divesting a six-year-old of his marbles would have been a lot more difficult..it seems. But a ‘state-within-a-state’? What brand of grass are they smoking in Malacanang nowadays? This is enough to make a grown man weep.

    25. there is no new revelation and also people only clamor about the milf and mnlf today, when all these rebellion should not have been tolerated from day one.

      The real mystery is who have benefited and who continues to benefit from the continued mindanao troubles.

    26. With the massacre of the 44 plus more is the final humiliation of Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, and this idiot never realized that he is only used by the MILF. Now, what will the be correct move? Continue to cuddle the MILF and other factions?

    27. President Noynoy (plus MILF, BIFF and even MNLF) probably wish they had quickly joined the call for CENSORSHIP control of the press, television and internet when the CBCP was echoing Pope Francis words during the papal visit.

    28. Japan as the venue now confirms why the President went to Mitsubishi plant opening than be there in Villamor.