POSTSCRIPT / February 1, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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President is afraid to confront MILF?

STAND UP!: The biggest obstacle to moving forward from the Mamasapano Massacre is that the President of this Republic seems afraid to confront the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. That is THE problem.

That much is clear — even to the grieving families of the PNP Special Action Force commandos mercilessly mowed down by MILF gunmen aided by their allies from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

As we said in our Postscript last Tuesday – which did not come out in the PhilStar Internet edition – President Aquino should rethink his love affair with the MILF. See

Mr. Aquino should also talk to his US handlers and confess that this has gone too far already and plead with the kibitzing nations to give us Filipinos more time to resolve issues internally. He should then tell Malaysia the deal is off.

* * *

WRITING ON THE WALL: If President Aquino and his shallow bench do not act fast, other forces might intervene to wipe the slate clean so this bleeding nation can start all over again.

Can they not see, or sense, the groundswell of loss of confidence building up? They may want to read the mainstream and social media to catch the disturbing drift of public opinion.

Look at the flowers being offered and candles lit by the public at the gates of Camp Crame, and the donations pouring in for SAF44 families.

Note the meetings of active and retired members of the uniformed service. Policemen in many areas nationwide, black mourning strips on their badges, are marching in sympathy with their fallen comrades. How soon will members of the armed forces link arms with them?

Lawmakers under the sway of Malacañang are starting to withdraw their support for – or ask for more time to review the odd provisions of – the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law giving the MILF its own state.

Read the body language of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, an Aquino appointee. Also the moves of the Catholic Church whose down-to-the-parish network just had a reinvigorating shot with the pastoral visit of Pope Francis.

Study these developments in the context of continuing corruption in high places, the self-rated poverty of more than half of the population, the vindictiveness against perceived political foes, and the lack of significant achievements after four years on the job.

* * *

TWIN TASKS: We were taught way back that a military leader has twin responsibilities: accomplishing his mission, and looking after his men.

The twin tasks go together. If the commander captures the objective but loses his men, he fails. If he coddles his men and misses his target, he also is a failure.

In the Mamasapano operation last Sunday, the nearly 400 PNP Special Action Force troops sent by the Commander-in-Chief to capture Malaysian terrorist Marwan for the US government may have succeeded in taking down their quarry (although this still has to be verified).

Assuming the corpse was indeed Marwan, the commander still failed because at least 44 of the men sent on that mission had to be carried out of the battle scene in mangled pieces stuffed in body bags. That was too stiff a price even for the $6-million reward promised by the US.

* * *

HE CAN’T REMEMBER!: The President’s failing his troops echoed in the silence of the three days of waiting for him to say what happened (although by that time, thanks to media, the families of the fallen officers and the entire nation already knew more or less).

When finally the President addressed the nation on TV late Wednesday, he insulted everybody by talking in circles – reading a supposedly well-thought-out script running on his teleprompters.

Tired of the circumlocution, a lady reporter asked him straight who gave the go-signal for the operation. The Commander-in-Chief was evasive, going to the extent of claiming, my gad!, that he could not remember!

How could he have forgotten that it was him who had been calling the shots, with court-suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima feeding him the tactical details?

Somebody should have informed the President that acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas already told the nation that they were kept out of the loop. This impliedly confirmed reports that the Aquino-Purisima tandem was directing the show.

* * *

THE PROBLEM: In responding to pleas for justice for the fallen SAF commandos, the President should stop diverting the focus to Marwan. That Malaysian terrorist, although high on the US wanted list, was not the one who massacred 44 police officers and wounded several others.

The target of any counter-move and demand should be the MILF, whose heavily armed fighters reinforced by the BIFF butchered the withdrawing SAF team cornered in an open field.

But how can justice be served when it is obvious that President Aquino is neither willing nor ready to confront the MILF? That is THE PROBLEM.

* * *

BIG JOKE: Now they are telling us out of Kuala Lumpur (why does it always have to be in Malaysia?) that a Malacañang panel has signed another piece of paper committing the MILF to give up its weapons in stages as the Philippine government gives up something in return.

It is an incredible government surrender-by-installment overseen by an international panel fumigated with representatives from various countries rounded up by the US to hide its Malaysian smell.

If an honest survey were done nationwide now, an overwhelming majority of respondents would laugh off the claim that the MILF would part with its weapons of war. Moro warriors will never part with their guns that have become part of their anatomy.

With Filipinos still grieving over the Mamasapano Massacre, it may not be right to tell them this cruel disarmament joke.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 1, 2015)

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