POSTSCRIPT / April 9, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Full Mamasapano truth remains hidden

TENTATIVE CONCLUSIONS: After being glued for two days to the TV coverage of the House hearing on the Mamasapano massacre of Jan. 25, this tired taxpayer is convinced that:

• The Bangsamoro “peace process” has taken on an international complexion and complexity, casting doubts on the ability of the administration to handle the dire consequences of the Bangsamoro Basic Law not being passed.

• The public cannot extract the whole truth about Mamasapano, and pinpoint central responsibility for the tragedy, while President Noynoy Aquino is in office. His alter egos and subordinates will continue to protect him.

• It is pointless waiting for the Commander-in-Chief to take full responsibility, particularly for the death of 44 elite police officers. Leave it to history to render judgment and maybe to the next administration to file the proper charges if warranted.

• There cannot be a full public ventilation of the involvement of the United States in the preparation and execution of Oplan Exodus targeting high-value terrorist targets hiding in Mamasapano. We may never know if the unsuspecting SAF forces were on an errand for the US.

• While military and police generals profess faith in each other in the hearing, the lack of trust between them at the level of ground operations is palpable.

• To shield the President against present accusations and future prosecution, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will move heaven and earth to overhaul the long-held military and police tradition of a chain of command and the idea of command responsibility flowing through it.

(NB — The reference to our being a “tired taxpayer” is a subliminal reminder that the deadline for the filing of Income Tax Returns is on April 15, Wednesday next week. No extension.)

* * *

MILF CLEARED: It has dawned on many observers – rather belatedly — that the so-called peace process that could lead to the carving out of a federal Moro state in Mindanao and Sulu has spun out of the control of a fumbling administration.

Not only is the US breathing down the necks of Filipino civil and military officials. A motley group of foreign governments have been able to insert themselves into what is basically a domestic issue and are now influencing the trend of events.

When the International Monitoring Team overseeing the implementation of the agreement between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it found “no sufficient evidence” that the MILF summarily executed the 44 SAF commandos, there was no official rebuttal from Malacañang.

The IMT, headed by Malaysia, even found the SAF team liable for violating ceasefire protocols and lack of coordination in carrying out Oplan Exodus, a valid law enforcement operation. Yet Malacañang did not object to the IMT conclusion.

While the Senate and the PNP Board of Inquiry assailed the MILF and allied armed groups for the massacre of SAF officers, the IMT said “there were no witnesses” to the “summary execution”.

* * *

MILF ARMED FORCES: When the IMT report referred to the MILF fighters as the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, there was no clarification from Malacañang as to the proper label for the rebels.

There is the sly psychological projection that the Moros now have their own armed forces. The cops sent by Camp Crame to arrest top terrorists were pictured as battling the superior armed forces of the MILF.

It seems also that in these pre-BBL times the MILF already has secured territories that even police officers on legitimate missions cannot just enter. What more when the BBL is passed and the Bangsamoro becomes reality?

Having been unconcerned about the political implications of titles and labels being used in the public “peace process”, Malacañang appears to have been caught clueless when suddenly the MILF had its own vaunted armed forces.

* * *

BLOATED STATUS: Malacañang cannot just allow the MILF or any rebel group to present its bloated self to the outside world any way it wants.

It now appears from its cunning use of labels that the MILF is not just a rebel band negotiating peace but a persecuted Islamic nation waging a war of national liberation from the Manila-based central government.

MILF leaders have publicly warned that if the BBL is not passed, they will go back to being a revolutionary movement, meaning they are now just holding back.

When Malacañang mislabeled itself as the GPH (Government of the Philippines), although it is in fact not the government, and allowed the MILF to sit opposite it at the negotiating table it unwittingly magnified the stature of the rebel group to that of a coequal government.

* * *

PANIQUI UPDATE: In a special session last week, the Sangguniang Bayan of Paniqui, Tarlac, finally reinstalled Mayor Miguel Rivilla the powers as the legally elected chief executive as ordered by the Commission on Elections.

Six council members unanimously agreed in a resolution to grant Rivilla the authority to sign official documents for and in behalf of the municipality as well as all other powers granted to the mayor under the local government code.

The council members were Rosauro Tayag, Gerry Tiangsing, Harris Dalayoan, Javerne Santillan, Rexmener Gaculais and Romeo Evangelista Jr. (the latter three belong to the Nationalist People’s Coalition).

Through a writ of execution dated March 13, 2015, Comelec ordered Rommel David — who assumed the mayorship last December via a Paniqui regional trial court decision — to cease and desist from discharging the powers of the mayor and to vacate the office in favor of Rivilla.

The local Comelec election officer helped by the municipal officer of the Department of the Interior and Local Government served the writ on David on March 16 but he chose to defy the Comelec insisting that the writ was defective and not properly served on him.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 9, 2015)

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