POSTSCRIPT / February 24, 2015 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Take your pick: BoI or Senate inquiry?

TWO TALES: Which Mamasapano report will the public believe: that of the Senate committee on public order or that of the PNP Board of Inquiry?

An anxious public is awaiting the result of the report-writing contest between the Senate committee chaired by Sen. Grace Poe and the Philippine National Police BoI headed by Police Director Benjamin Magalong.

Both inquiries are walking a tightrope. There is pressure on both bodies to clear President Noynoy Aquino of responsibility for the Mamasapano massacre of Jan. 25.

The Senate and the PNP, however, are aware of the disastrous fallout of a coverup. Duty falls heavily on them to bring out the whole truth and do justice to the 44 PNP Special Action Force commandos killed in Mamasapano.

The BoI hearings are held behind closed doors with a report expected before the end of February. On the other hand, the Senate investigation is mostly open and witnessed by a wider public via TV with its conclusion not yet in sight.

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CHAIN DILEMMA: Meantime, somebody should advice/order Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to stop peddling her new-fangled theory that the concept of a chain of command applies only to the armed forces and not the national police.

Her idea is clearly another attempt to split falling hairs to save the President’s bosom friend, ex-PNP Director General Alan Purisima, and ex-SAF head Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas from charges of violating the PNP chain of command.

De Lima seeks primarily to absolve her President from accusations that he disregarded the chain of command when he dealt directly with Purisima, then already suspended as PNP chief, in planning and executing Oplan Exodus, the codename for the Mamasapano operation.

* * *

NOY’S 2 HATS: Only the President, Purisima, probably (reluctantly) Napeñas, the yellow rear guards in the Senate and those deathly scared of taking command responsibility would buy De Lima’s hair-splitting.

The secretary presents this funny picture of the President wearing two hats: one hat as Commander-in-Chief when directing the armed forces and another as Chief Executive when directing the civilian civil service.

She should not push to the hilt her theory of such a split personality for President Aquino lest the naughty opposition, aided by the social media, picks it up as another laughing matter.

* * *

SECOND CHAIN: To make De Lima’s theory stick, the President could order the police to stop wearing military-type uniforms and lugging AFP high-powered weapons, refrain from putting stars on their shoulder boards and the top brass never to call themselves generals.

But stripping the 150,000-strong PNP of its military air might diminish its effectiveness as a deterrent to the 150,00-member AFP’s taking seriously its constitutional description as the “protector of the people” and going on a “de golpe” power trip.

It is amazing that the dilemma over the so-called chain of command came to light only when the Commander-in-Chief encountered the Mamasapano truth test and needed a break.

Years ago, if I may digress a bit, there were actually two chains of command in the armed forces, the second one composed allegedly of the wives (a few times also girlfriends) of leading generals.

It was bruited about that in those bad old days the smart contractor who wanted a deal approved at lightning speed dealt with the second chain of command.

My sources said, however, that under the current “tuwid na daan” the second chain has all but vanished. J

* * *

NO RETURN: Back to the Senate hearing, it was disappointing to learn that with its awesome subpoena powers, the Senate has not asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to return the weapons and personal belongings stolen from the still-warm SAF corpses.

Why are our high and mighty officials so afraid of the MILF, as if crossing the rebel group could trigger a war that the armed forces may not be able to handle?

Even Malacañang and its feminine peace talkers who sound like rebels’ apologists have not formally asked for the return of the guns and personal belonging, nor asked the MILF to submit a list of its fighters involved in the Mamasapano encounter.

President Aquino’s “demand” for the return of items taken from the SAF men was just the usual press release, not formalized in an official communication to its alleged “peace partners”.

* * *

WAITING FOREVER: As senators argued among themselves about what should be done to harvest truth in the cornfield of Mamasapano, a taciturn Mohagher Iqbal, head of the MILF negotiating panel, just listened amusedly.

When, after weeks of marathon hearings, the Poe committee thought yesterday of asking Iqbal when he could submit his side’s own investigation report, he simply told them the truth – he did not know.

That was it, the MILF did not know when it would deign to submit a copy of its investigation report and the Senate must wait.

Iqbal cited good enough reasons: their head man who would review and sign the report was on a pilgrimage in the Middle East, its probers have not completed their survey of the battleground, et cetera.

Does that mean that the Senate and the nation will have to wait? The answer is Yes.

* * *

END OPTIONS: To end the confusion, may I offer two alternative options:

• A reiteration of my old proposal: Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law in its original unedited form as submitted by the MILF-Malacañang negotiators – so the Supreme Court can get to work on it pronto and junk the BBL as unconstitutional.

• Since the wished-for Nobel peace prize is clearly no longer attainable, President Aquino should drop everything, including whatever deals there are with Malaysia on the Bangsamoro and Sabah.

It is sad that we have been misled into thinking that our brother Muslims in the South are enemies. They are not! The real enemy lurks in Kuala Lumpur.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 24, 2015)

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