President Benigno Simeon Aquino III snubbed the invitation of the Board of Inquiry created by the Philippine National Police. Instead, he chose to deliver his latest outrageous speech under very controlled conditions.
“Christian leaders” gathered this afternoon on the grounds of Malacanang to pray for the President’s deliverance from his critics.
This, as he added to the mountain of lies dished out since January 25, the day 44 Special Action Forces, at least 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and six civilians died in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
His speech came just a day after the nation commemorated the 40th day of the Mamasapano deaths. His speech came a day after widows of the SAF’s Fallen 44 begged him to tell the truth, and days after a surviving SAF hero of Mamasapano said the only justice he wants is to know who allowed his comrades to die. (Read: ‘No One Asked For Coordinates’ )
Napenas, only Napenas
What did Mr. Aquino have to say this time? That Napenas tricked him.
Just Napenas. There was very little mention of his best friend, disgraced Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.
“Maraming wishful thinking si Napenas as opposed to reality. Maliwanag sa akin: binola niya ako … Sinolo ni Napenas. Siya ang nag desisyon at may times na yung desisyon niya palpak. Pag alis niya sa akin nung January 9, lumalabas ngayon na wala siyang intensyon na tuparin yung utos ko sa kanyang mag-coordinate.”
(Napenas was indulging in wishful thinking, instead of focusing on reality. It is now clear to me: he tricked me. Napenas operated as a lone wolf. He decided alone and those decisions were wrong. When he left me on January 9… I now know that he had no intention of obeying my order for him to coordinate.)
Mr. Aquino today claimed, that as early as the January 9 briefing in Bahay Pangarap, he already told Napenas that the SAF cannot deploy just 160 SAF troopers in Mamasapano to take out Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman when there were 3,000-4,000 potential hostiles in the area.
“He told me: ‘Sir, mag co-coordinate kami on jump-off.’ Sabi ko: ‘Hindi pwede yung pagkilos dapat iposisyon yung kanyon. Kailangan iposisyon yung tangke. Kailangan iposisyon yung plano, yung tao, yung gasolina at yung bala ng kanyon, yung bomba ng eroplano.” Hindi mo magagawa yan ng 30 minutes.”
(He told me, we will coordinate on jump off. I told him, you can’t do that because you need to position artillery and tanks, personnel, gasoline, ammunition and bombs from planes.)
Aquino betrays his desperation with this new tack.
The Commander in Chief now presents himself as a fool, just to evade accountability for the tragedy that has torn the peace process into shreds and sent tens of thousands of Maguindanao residents escaping from clashes.
“Various officials, from the Secretary of Justice to the Senate President, have tried to downplay the President’s role. Drilon has the gall to preempt the Senate’s investigative report, insisting no blame should be ascribed to the President.”
“Misguided, misled, misinformed. While he may have been all that, we warn lawmakers: Do not shield the President. Napenas answered only to Purisima and Mr. Aquino — because the President willed it.”
Pants on Fire
Simply put, the President lied today.
The lies are so bad they fly in the face of logic.
Today’s lies also show that he lied in his earlier speeches to the nation, when he claimed not to have dabbled into operational details about Mamasapano.
You wonder how his advisers – who must have monitored everything that has gone before – allowed him to mouth off in this fashion. Anyone can access news reports of the Senate Mamasapano hearings and related incidents.
But then accounts of the President’s willfulness are legion. Mr. Aquino has always had a problem dealing with reality – other than that which exists in his mind.
The fact is, the President is scared. Very scared. And he has a lot to be scared of, starting with the fact that the men he sacrificed in Mamasapano, and the men left holding the bag of blame, refuse to be silent.
The ship of state has so many leaks. Men in uniform themselves are punching holes in the President’s tall tales.
Time on target
What the Senate did not bring to light was leaked last week: a video of Napenas, the morning after the Mamasapano clash, briefing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and a roomful of officers.
Napenas, in response to Roxas’ questions, said the President knew that coordination would be time-on-target. Did Napenas lie? If he did, so did BFF Purisima, who repeatedly defended to senators his concept of time-on-target.
- This is the same Purisima who told Napenas not to inform PNP OIC Leonardo Espina and Roxas of the operation. He never denied Napenas’ story before the Senate.
- This is the same Purisima who claimed the duty of informing the AFP chief of staff – and never did so.
- This is the same Purisima who escorted Napenas to brief the President; Purisima who stayed behind for a private chat with the President, and then gave his orders to Napenas.
- And this, by the way, was Mr. Aquino’s text mate as the Mamasapano tragedy unfolded.
Not Napenas. Only Purisima. (The President barely acknowledged Roxas’ text on the morning of January 25. And he did not bother to talk to Roxas – who shared the same Zamboanga City-bound plane – until things got so bad around noon.)
If, indeed, Mr. Aquino warned Napenas of the need to marshall all possible personnel and equipment for Mamasapano, then he lied earlier in denying any operational responsibility.
But did Mr. Aquino really play the general in advising Napenas of what was needed in an operation where the SAF could face 3,000 to 4,000 enemies?
That is pure bull.
- Had Mr. Aquino warned Napenas of 3,000 – 4,000 enemies in Mamasapano, he would NOT have texted Purisima, asking why they left Marwan’s body behind, and then say the enemy strength was just over a dozen men.
- Had Mr. Aquino, indeed, warned of the hordes of enemies, he would not have flayed the SAF survivors for the failure to get Basit Usman.
- Had Mr. Aquino given the warning, Purisima would NOT have repeated again and again to the Senate, that time-on-target fantasy.
- Had Mr. Aquino said all that, he would have tore at his hair and shred his barong during his first televised speech.
What commander in chief would ask a SAF director to initiate a powwow with the AFP chief of staff?
Had the Commander in Chief informed Napenas that thousands of enemies were waiting for the SAF, he would have at least checked with the AFP chief of staff and PNP OIC and DND secretary. (Never mind, Mar Roxas, whom he apparently blamed for Purisima’s woes.)
Killing his own legacy
Had Mr. Aquino warned of thousands of enemies, then he was was willing to risk peace talks with the MILF. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) do not have that many men in Mamasapano. Many of those thousands would have to come from the ranks of the MILF.
If Mr. Aquino ordered the prepositioning of artillery and bombs from planes, why was there no rescue of the hapless SAF? As a SAF survivor notes, they provided coordinates regularly. Every time they moved. They could have given the coordinates of the enemy had these been requested. There was no rescue until very late in the afternoon. (Read: ‘No One Asked For Coordinates)
If the President was willing to pour fire and brimstone on the enemy, he would have told his AFP officers to bomb away. Those poor men, blamed for the deaths of the SAF, had the peace process in mind as they scotched tactics that would have scorched Mamasapano communities.
If the President was ready to sow destruction on those 3,000 to 4,000 enemies, why is he now appealing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Law? If the President was willing to bring that much destruction on the MILF, why is he asking Congress to reward them with the BBL?
(That is said with sorrow, because I truly believe the Bangsamoro deserve the right to self-determination. )
The Real Issue
All of Mr. Aquino’s lies are attempts to coverup the main question of accountability.
He has failed to answer this: Why did you insist on appointing a disgraced police chief to head such a sensitive operation (thousands of enemies!) with the potential to wreak death and destruction?
Purisima’s role was not limited to advise. He directed Napenas. He reported directly to Aquino during planning and as the bitter truth unfolded.
You lied, Mr. President. You deliberately created a shadow chain of command.
Spare us the old claim of having noble intentions. Even a global terrorist like Marwan is no excuse for whole-scale upending of systems aimed at defending our fragile democracy.
Shadow chains of command are the domains of tyrants and rogues. Especially when these are headed by people accused of serious crimes.
You betrayed this nation, Mr. President. Tama na, sobra na.