POSTSCRIPT / February 5, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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I disagree with calls for P-Noy to resign

STAY ON: It would be a mistake, I think, for President Noynoy Aquino to resign while we are sorting out the bloody details of the Malasapano operation that took the lives of 44 of the finest fighters of the Philippine National Police last Jan. 25.

There is clamor from scattered disgruntled sectors for the President to step down to pay the price of the Mamasapano Massacre and a host of other ugly things, including his major setbacks in the Supreme Court.

This observer disagrees with the call for him to step down. His quitting with a little more than a year left of his term will be gravely unsettling. It will only put the government and the entire nation in great peril.

We have a well laid-out system of succession and transition. For a sitting President to resign precipitately under pressure would create a vacuum that could suck in chaos.

Those insisting on instant resignation have not presented a post-Aquino plan for riding the crisis that could follow.

* * *

SAVE THE CHIEF: President Aquino will have to be saved, meantime, by his military and police chiefs from ultimate blame for the botched Malasapano operation.

Absorbing the blame for the Commander-in-Chief is a gallant option open to Gen. Gregorio Catapang, armed forces chief of staff, and PNP Director General Alan Purisima who has been hands-on despite having been suspended by the Sandiganbayan.

In a press conference yesterday, Catapang owned his share of the responsibility, absolving the President of operational blame for the debacle. He said the President told him to “coordinate” with the PNP.

Nothing has been heard from Purisima 10 days after Malasapano. But being a close friend and protégé of the President, it should not be too hard for him to say he was taking responsibility as far as the PNP was concerned.

* * *

COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY: Such moves of the President’s subordinates in the uniformed service will not end the finger-pointing. His critics will just continue heaping the blame on the Chief Executive under the concept of command responsibility.

After hearing various voices on Mamasapano, however, my conclusion is that it is best for everybody to wait for the Board of Inquiry report on the military and police involvement in that costly operation.

Let us wait – it would just be less than a month – and give the BOI the benefit of the usual doubt.

After digesting the report, not before, we should be in a better position to decide if its investigation report presents a reasonably complete and credible picture of Mamasapano.

* * *

TOO MANY COOKS: Some of us are not comfortable seeing so many bodies jostling to conduct their own investigation.

It is far-fetched that the inquiries being prepared by congressional committees are in aid of legislation. These will just add to the confusion and mount pressure on the AFP and the PNP to publicize information that is best kept confidential.

This corner is most worried about the separate investigation that foreign kibitzers are poised to conduct.

It is as if we Filipinos cannot sort things out by ourselves, that our own internal inquiries are not credible and so must be validated by foreigners who claim to know better.

* * *

FOREIGN FINGERS: An International Monitoring Team headed by Malaysian Gen. Yaakub Samad said his group would conduct its own investigation apart from the Board of Inquiry which has started to gather information from those actually involved in the operation.

(Pardon our noting it again, but how come Malaysians are all over Mindanao poking their fingers into a purely domestic affair? The other question is: Why are we allowing it?)

Samad said his team wants to determine separately the “real circumstances” which led to the encounter that also killed 14 guerrillas of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front for which Malacañang wants to establish a Bangsamoro federal state.

With Malaysia in the IMT are soldiers from Brunei, Libya, Indonesia, and conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union.

* * *

MILF PROBE: Not to be outdone, the MILF itself has also initiated its own inquiry through its newly formed Special Investigative Commission.

Samad said the IMT would listen to witnesses, including senior officials of the MILF and barangay folk. The inquiry would be conducted together with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities of the government and the MILF.

The IMT, according to Samad, would monitor the compliance by the MILF and the Philippine government with the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

It has sent a team to Mamasapano led by a Norwegian member, William Hovland. Initially, Hovland said it was difficult linking up with the protagonists in the area due to the absence of telecommunications signals.

* * *

‘WHO YOU?’: If Hovland is complaining of spotty signals, it is amazing that police generals have been saying that during the firefight they were coordinating with the use of cellphones. What ever happened to the military-type radios normally lugged by soldiers in combat operations?

Imagine Deputy PNP Director General (OIC) Leonardo Espina, (after several “no signal” errors) sending to his AFP counterpart the GPS coordinates of his trapped Special Action Force commandos and getting a text reply “Who you?”

Espina reiterated yesterday that he first learned by text of the operation in progress only at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, hours after the SAF had moved into the hideout of the Malaysian terrorist-bomber Marwan to neutralize him.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 5, 2015)

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