Command responsibility

It can be gleaned from newspaper reports and the full-page ad put out by the Ateneo de Davao University community that the Mamapasano operation was planned by a U.S. agency. The Inquirer says that the mission was based on the declaration of the CIA and the US Treasury Department that Marwan was one of the most wanted terrorists in Southeast Asia with $6 million offered for his capture. The Ateneo de Davao ad asks rhetorically: Does the suspected presence of a terrorist wanted by the United State warrant that we break our agreements with the MILF?

Interviews by broadcast reporters hint that suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima was in charge of the operation. PNP Officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina said repeatedly that he had no knowledge of the operation. He was informed about it only “after the fact,” meaning after the massacre. The expression on his face when he said that manifested disgust.

It appears that the mission was conceived by US operatives and carried out by Philippine police units, with US senior anti-terrorist officials and President Aquino overseeing the execution. There are reports that PNoy was monitoring the operation somewhere in Mindanao, ready to fly to Maguindanao upon the capture of Marwan and Usman to announce the success of the mission.

But at the press conference last Wednesday, GMA-TV Lei Alvis asked the President if the order to move in on the wanted terrorists was given by him. It took him seconds before he could answer. His answer was ostensibly evasive. He said he was never asked to give the order, there was instead a standing order to carry out the mission when circumstances called for it.

It is said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Had the Special Action policemen captured Marwan with little casualty, the President would have proudly announced to the whole world “mission accomplished” like US President Barak Obama did when special operations forces killed Osama bin Laden. Marwan was captured but at a high price: the 44 lives of the best of the best of policemen. Is the President evading responsibility for the tragic Mamapasano operation?

In April 1980 US President Jimmy Carter ordered a military mission to rescue 52 American hostages held in Tehran. The mission ended with eight U.S. servicemen killed when a rescue helicopter collided with one of six C-130 transport planes. No hostage was rescued. The next day, President Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy.

Absent President

President Aquino was conspicuously missing at the arrival honors for 42 slain SAF men at Villamor Air Base.  Presidential communications secretary Sonny Coloma denied that the President chose not to attend the arrival honors in place of the inauguration of an automotive manufacturing plant of Mitsubishi Motors in Laguna. It’s really not part of his schedule, he said. That placed the President in worse light. He made it appear the President did not give importance to the occasion. Forty-two men gave up their life in the service of the country but the Commander-in-Chief did not feel bound to lead the arrival honors for the fallen heroes.

Yes, he had a long-scheduled function to attend, but the arrival honors for the remains of 42 heroes should have taken precedence over all other functions. The Mitsubishi executives would have understood if the President had skipped their affair.

Military officers suspend hostilities to accord fallen soldiers their due honors. The opposing officers respect the noble gesture by ordering a ceasefire from their side. An officer of the American Expeditionary Forces in the Philippines, Lt. Dennis Quinlan, found the dead body of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, left at Tirad Pass by his retreating comrades. He ordered him buried with honors before pursuing the remnants of Gen Emilio Aguinaldo’s army.

Where were the Presidential sisters?

Presidential sisters Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris were prominent in the state dinner in honor of US President Obama even if none of them is an official, senior or junior, of the Philippine government. They were also prominent during Pope Francis’ call on the President in Malacanang even if none of them is a Church lay minister.  Sister Kris even boasted of the privilege of being able to invite five other people to the event.

The usually ubiquitous four sisters were also conspicuously missing at the arrival honors for the 42 SAF heroes. After all, none of them is an official of the Philippine government or a member, active or reserve, of the National Police force.

Oh, they were all at the necrological services. Could it be because they felt pressure to be present to make up for their brother’s absence in the previous day’s ceremonies? Where was Kris’ morning show entourage? They didn’t need a special invitation to the event.

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