MANILA - President Aquino's answers to families of the slain police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano left them hurt, one widow told ABS-CBN News.
"Janet," the wife of one of the slain SAP troopers, said Aquino even scolded them when they met at Camp Crame Wednesday.
Her account of the meeting, which was sent to ABS-CBN News, echoed what another SAF relative felt after Aquino talked to her.
Janet said the were made to wait for hours for the President.
"Six p.m. po nang sinabi sa amin ng protocol officer namin na hindi muna kami pwede umuwi dahil darating si Mr. President. Matagal pa po kami naghintay. Eight p.m. na siya dumating at nagsimula po niyang kausapin per table ang bawat pamilya (3 pamilya per table)," she said.
"Pasado alas 11 na po ng gabi nang mapagdesisyunan na ang 6 na pamilyang natitira ay pagsama-samahin para mas mapabilis na matapos ang paguusap. Bago kami kausapin nagsabi ang Pangulo na maghihilamos muna sya. Pagkatapos ng mahabang paghihintay nagsimula ang usapan kung saan bawat pamilya ang nagtatanong," Janet said.
This is what several families of the slain SAF troopers asked the President, and his answers, according to Janet:
Family 1: "Magtatanong lang po kami bakit tumagal ng mahigit 10 oras ang bakbakan, bakit walang reinforcement? Ilang survivor na po ang nainterview at sinabi na maghapon silang nakipaglaban para mabuhay pero walang reinforcement na dumarating."
The President reportedly admitted that he knew about the Mamasapano clash as early as 7 a.m., but directly blamed now-sacked SAF chief Getulio Napeñas for the fiasco.
"Sabi ko, padalhan ng reinforcement iyan kaya akala ko okay na. Di ko naman alam na hindi pala totoo iyun. At di ko rin alam na bandang hapon eh napapalaban na rin ang (SAF) 84th Seaborne," Aquino allegedly replied.
The President also said it's not easy sending reinforcements and compared it to going to a mall to meet a friend. "Kayo ba kapagkunwari itetext nyo friend nyo, 'Kita tayo sa MOA,' ganun lang ba kadali sa inyo na pumunta dun?"
Janet also said they couldn't accept what Aquino told another family, who asked for justice for the slain police officers.
Aquino allegedly asked the family if they wanted him to get the fingerprints of all enemy combatants in the Mamasapano clash. "Ano gusto nyo gawin ko, kunin natin ang fingerprint ng mga kalaban? Aba madami iyun, para malaman natin sino pumatay sa mga kamag-anak nyo."
The President also reportedly said he and the SAF families were "equal" because his father was also killed. "Namatay rin ang tatay ko, alam ko pakiramdam niyo kaya patas na rin tayo ngayon."
Aquino reiterated that it was Napenas' fault, according to Janet. "Ang may kasalanan diyan, 'yung nag-utos na papuntahin sila dun. Alam na delikado tinuloy pa rin at si Napenas iyun," the President allegedly said.
Janet said some families just went home and did not talk to Aquino because they were dismayed with what he said.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, meamnwhile, denied that a confrontation took place between Aquino and the families of the slain SAF commandos.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Friday said Malacañang respects the sentiments of the SAF troopers.
"Owing to the fact that their loss is very, very fresh and that they lost their loved ones in such a manner, we would understand… [that] they look at that opportunity to be able to ask the President questions differently," Valte said.
"There are also families who have chosen not to speak of their private conversation but also did say they have no ill feelings towards the President. So at this point, we respect the differentiation of how he was received," she said. - with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News