Mamasapano tragedy will be a factor in 2016 elections

By Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Feb 25 2015 01:21 AM | Updated as of Feb 25 2015 09:21 AM

Don’t expect the truth about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano tragedy to come from President Aquino.

He had one whole month to tell the Filipino people about his role in the debacle that claimed the lives of 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and six civilians including an eight-year-old girl who was hit in the crossfire.

He had three televised addresses on the armed operation that turned into a massacre--Jan. 28, three days after the tragedy; Jan. 30 necrological service at Camp Bagong Diwa; and Feb. 6 to announce his acceptance of the resignation of suspended Police Chief Alan Purisima.

The people, grieving and angry, wanted an explanation to give sense into the senselessness of brutal deaths of 44 of the country’s elite police officers who were on a mission to arrest two terrorists wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But Aquino’s monologue didn’t enlighten because he instead talked about the assassination of his father in 1983 and the 1989 coup against his mother.

Press Secretary Herminio Coloma said Aquino will decide to reveal what he knows about the police operation at the appropriate time: “Pagpapasyahan po niya ‘yan sa takdang panahon.”

Aquino can take his own sweet time about his version of the truth but the people will know what really happened in Mamasapano in one way or another because borrowing a quote from Chinese writer Lu Xun about the March 1926 massacre in China, “Lies written in ink can never disguise facts written in blood.”

Aquino’s problem with telling the truth about the Mamasapano debacle is because he would be implicating himself.

The line that the administration is trying lead the public to take is that the President was misled by Purisima of the real situation on the ground. They cite the text exchanges between Aquino and his trusted police officer, where the latter was the telling the President at 8:17 in the morning that the military has already sent reinforcement to the SAF: "They are presently in contact with reinforcing elements from BIFF. The containment forces are the ones in contact right now. They are supported by mechanized and artillery support sir."

But the same text exchanges showed Aquino knew that Oplan Exodus had been operationalized as early as 5:28 in the morning. The text messages also revealed that Aquino was very much involved in the planning of the operation including the physical terrain and the number of personnel involved.

Aquino can’t escape accountability for giving Purisima, a suspended government official authority, to be involved in a highly sensitive security operation.

And if Purisima is the culprit, how come Aquino was all praises to him when he accepted the former’s resignation?

The reason why Aquino can’t find the “takdang panahon” to tell the truth was articulated by his sister, Kris Aquino, who said last Sunday, “Let’s be honest, maraming magiging kaso next year (na isasampa laban sa Presidente.)”

Kris said that in answer to the question by actress Nora Aunor if she will run for an elective position in the 2016 elections. The presidential sister said, anticipating the lawsuits, she has to support her brother.

The Mamasapano tragedy will surely be a factor, in more ways than one, in the 2016 elections.

Aquino will have to make sure that his successor will be an ally or someone who will not do to him what he did to Gloria Arroyo and what Arroyo did to her predecessor, Joseph Estrada.

***

Speaking of lawsuits, Secretary Leila de Lima should not waste government resources on the National Transformation Council.

But she got it with her “Do not pervert a nation’s grief” statement issued last Sunday, especially her description of the group: “religious and political has-beens.”

She said NTC’s call for people power is a “carefully formulated strategy in the false hope of propagating it legally in the mass media and among supporters without however accruing any criminal liability under the penal laws on rebellion, sedition, and coup d’ etat. This is a false hope, since certain actions already implemented by the group, from organizing foras and conferences of supporters and sympathizers, can already be contemplated as conspiracies relating to sedition, rebellion or coup d’ etat.”

Former Defense Secretary and NSA Adviser Norberto Gonzales had said in a TV interview that there is nothing wrong with people power, or a change in regime through people power which happened in EDSA 1 and 2.

De Lima said:“This is Gonzales’ doublespeak. The NTC has publicly declared in its meetings and so-called consultations that a people power strategy for regime change can only be successful if backed by military support for the installation of the National Transformation Council as a ‘transition government’, and the suspension of elections or any other democratic process sanctioned under a constitutional government, until the enactment of reforms to be dictated by the NTC as the de facto government of the Republic.

“Everything in this strategy is illegal and unconstitutional, except probably for the people power part if executed merely as a form of mass mobilization in the exercise of the people’s freedom of assembly. The installation of the NTC as the governing body of the Republic is nothing but the installation of a civilian-military junta, and the call for the military’s support for its defense and installation is nothing less than a proposal or conspiracy to commit the crime of coup d’etat. The NTC’s pronouncements and publicly declared strategy for the capture of state power through active military support to the NTC are therefore acts which already constitute conspiracy or proposal to commit rebellion and coup d’ etat (Art. 136 in relation to Arts. 134 and 134-A, Revised Penal Code), conspiracy to commit sedition (Art. 141 in relation to Art. 139, RPC) or, at the very least, inciting to sedition (Art. 142, RPC), as well as illegal assemblies (Art. 146, RPC).

“A junta by any other sanitized name is still illegal and unconstitutional. By calling for people power and military support to force the President’s ‘resignation’ in order to pave the way for a junta, the NTC and its mushrooming allied alphabet soup organizations of discredited government officials consisting of charged plunderers, grafters, and tax evaders, or of those under investigation for such crimes, may have just crossed the line of legitimate dissent. The government will not relent in applying the full force of the law against them in order to protect the people and the State from an unconstitutional and illegal power grab.

“In the end, any civilian or religious-led putsch will not succeed, because the military will never support the extra-constitutional installation of a junta led by GMA bishops and ex-officials. The AFP and the PNP stand behind the President, no matter how the Mamasapano incident is exploited by opportunists, such as NTC, to sow discord and division among their ranks. It is the height of pathetic gutter politics, when the tragic loss of 44 police officers killed in the line of duty is used by disgraced pathological personalities to crawl their way back to national relevance, at the expense of the people’s effort to come to terms with the complex issue of peace in Mindanao in their search for justice for the SAF44. The nation is still grieving, and without any sense of shame, these personalities would use the people’s grief to pervert a national catharsis, serving only their own thirst and craving for absolute power by imposing upon this nation a tyranny of religious and political has-beens.”

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