MANILA, Philippines - Some Catholic bishops yesterday supported calls for President Aquino to apologize for the death of the 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.
Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, South Cotabato said Aquino, as a sign of humility, should apologize because he is the commander-in-chief.
Aquino should also not pass blame to others and assume command responsibility for the incident, Gutierrez said.
“Humility is a sign of true leadership. He should accept responsibility. Genuine leaders never pass the buck. Humility is truth, a Christian virtue,” said Gutierrez.
But while he believes that the leader should say sorry, Gutierrez asked the people to also pray for the President.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes agrees with Sen. Serge Osmeña III, who earlier said that Aquino should follow the example of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who apologized to the people over the “Hello, Garci” election scandal.
“I agree with Serge (Osmeña). President Aquino should apologize. Humility is a great virtue needed by public servants,” said Bastes.
He also warned Aquino that pride can lead to destruction.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (CBCP-ECPA) chairman, said that it is not enough to apologize but to punish and prosecute the ones who are responsible for the killing of the 44 police commandos during the operation to arrest international terrorists that included Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman.
The policemen killed Marwan but Usman escaped.
The police commandos later encountered Muslim rebels while withdrawing.
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Batangas said that the President should not only apologize but he should also step down to give the slain policemen eternal rest and give the Filipino people a fresh start.
Meanwhile, Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo yesterday asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to lessen the collateral damage in their offensive operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.
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