Catapang grilled: Save 44 SAF or save peace process?

Posted at Feb 10 2015 05:43 PM | Updated as of Feb 11 2015 01:43 AM

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Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday grilled Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gregorio Catapang regarding his instruction to the military not to engage the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano on January 25.

At the continuation of the Senate inquiry, Cayetano criticized Catapang for instructing his men to extricate the police Special Action Force (SAF) troopers but not to engage the fighters of the MILF supposedly to avoid endangering the peace process.

"Buhay pa yung marami nun diba at that time? So at that time na sinabi niyo, you had two missions [pero] contrary yung dalawa: save the peace process or save the 44. Ang sinabi mo: makipagsuntukan kayo pero itali niyo kamay niyo sa likod niyo," the senator told Catapang.

"You told them to not engage the MILF. How can they get out the 44 if they cannot engage the MILF?" he asked.

The AFP chief admitted that he did gave that order, but clarified that when the soldiers were fired upon by the MILF, they fired back.

He said they also had to "fight it out" with the MILF to help the SAF troopers. Forty-four elite cops were killed in the encounter.

Cayetano, however, refused to accept Catapang's statement, saying: "Why didn't you give that order from the start?"

ANC, February 10, 2015