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LARAWAN: Bulaklak, kandila, hinagpis at pakikibaka

Prayer Gathering
9th Day after the death of the fallen of Mamasapano
Camp Crame, Quezon City
February 3, 2015


Epic fail in leadership and intelligence


It was a rout – a massacre.  On the early morning of January 25, forty four out of close to 400 elite, US-trained, Special Action Force (SAF) policemen were killed in a 12-hour firefight, in a remote barrio in Mamasapano, Maguindanao — a known rebel stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  They were reportedly on a top-secret counterterrorism operation to capture Malaysian bomb expert and Jemaah Islamiya leader, Marwan, said to be the equivalent of Osama bin Laden in Southeast Asia and his second in command, Usman.  The two had a total of $7 million bounty on their heads courtesy of the United States government.

The facts and circumstances surrounding this latest debacle in the Aquino government’s anti-terrorist efforts have only been slowly trickling out, no thanks to Malacanang’s lack of transparency if not outright attempts to mislead and deceive. Mr. Aquino’s address to the nation four days after the Mamasapano incident was riddled with inconsistencies, obfuscation, half-truths and outright lies. (For one, there is no mention of civilian guides and paramilitary/CAFGU casualties, which the MILF reports counting, adding up to a total of 64 instead of just 44 killed on the government side.)

Thus the families and comrades of the slain are still seeking answers.  They find little consolation in the Aquino administration’s declaration of a so-called national day of mourning, medals of valor for the dead and injured, and promises of financial support to the latter’s dependents.  They are steadfastly demanding that justice be rendered for their kin’s untimely, avoidable and senseless deaths.

This demand underlies the calls by various quarters for an impartial and thorough investigation into the culpability of those who had instigated, authorized, and planned the entire operation.

Unfortunately, the warmongers and those with deep-seated anti-Moro prejudices have been garnering the most media mileage.  They are calling for “all-out-war” versus the MILF, the junking of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and a halt to further peace negotiations between government and the MILF on the premise that the rebel group is mainly, if not exclusively, to blame for the carnage.

Aquino and his defenders and apologists pretend to be sober and fully committed to achieving peace with the MILF despite this setback.  They have labeled the Mamasapano incident as an unfortunate “misencounter” and have appealed to the public not to make any hasty conclusions until an investigation to be carried out by a PNP Board of Inquiry can determine the “truth”.
But the truth is Mr. Aquino and his clique of the closest “kabarkada” and “kabarilan” are hell bent on foisting a cover-up.

In the first place, more than a week after the incident, there is no admission as to who gave the go signal for what an Interaksyon editorial called a “fatally flawed mission”.  Aquino, when asked by the media categorically whether he himself okayed it, hemmed and hawed and ended up saying his specific approval was unnecessary since there were standing warrants of arrest for the two high-value targets.

Nonetheless, it can be concluded, from his claim that he had repeatedly stressed in briefings the need for coordination, that he was continuously briefed on the progress of the operation and therefore had – or could have had — full and constant knowledge of it.

What has also eventually emerged as a fact is that SAF Director Napenas was directly reporting to suspended PNP chief Purisima, bypassing superior officers in the line of command up to PNP OIC Espina.  Purisima in turn was directly reporting to Aquino, bypassing SILG Mar Roxas.  This breakdown in the line of command, especially in giving Purisima the authority to direct the operations, is by itself highly anomalous and unjustifiable, even if the operation had been successful.

There is no need for any investigation to determine the immediate cause of the disaster.  It was the deliberate decision not to coordinate with both the MILF and the AFP.  It is clear that there was no coordination on several levels and fronts between the police and armed forces, from the SAF commandoes and army units on the ground up to the highest levels of command.

Within the police hierarchy, there was a clear breakdown in the chain of command, with the SAF Director Napenas neither informing nor reporting to the PNP Chief Espina, and instead directly reporting to suspended chief Purisima. Purisima, in turn did not inform nor report to DILG Secretary Roxas but to the President himself.

The MILF official statement sums up the lesson from the Mamasapano incident insofar as the peace process is concerned:  “The MILF have (sic) been in negotiations with the Philippine Government for some time now. During this time both parties have established protocols, ways of proceedings and mechanisms, which support and keep the peace.  Adherence to these mechanism (sic) have created a peaceful environment and lessened actual hostilities through the years.  lt is unfortunate but not entirely surprising that when parties do not follow these protocols lives are placed in harm’s way.”

What emerges is the picture of a clique in Aquino’s Cabinet, headed by no less than the Commander-in-Chief, breaking the chain-of-command and illegally placing a suspended police officer in charge of a suicidal mission – a mission fraught not only with untold dangers and operational complexity but imbued with wider and more serious political implications on the ongoing GPH-MILF peace negotiations, particularly the passage by Congress of the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Some analysts attribute Aquino’s illegal and foolhardy reliance on Purisima and his coterie of trusted aides like Napenas to a combination of hubris, his eagerness to score propaganda points in the global “anti-terror” campaign, and just plain incompetent leadership.

What is overlooked however are the undeniable military and political stakes of the US Superpower in this bungled operation and their record of direct and indirect involvement in previous attempts to neutralize Marwan’s group.  This includes the 2012 use of armed drone strikes against a suspected hideout of Marwan in Sulu which resulted in scores of civilian fatalities and an unscathed Marwan.

The “actionable intelligence” that Aquino touted as key to the decision to mount the Mamasapano operation has been traced, according to news reports, to a US mole within the MILF.  This was allegedly verified through US drones and GPS tracking. Subsequently the US mobilized its Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) based in Mindanao for the latest operation; JSOTF forces were sighted in the aftermath of the Mamasapano operation.  The US would also have nixed coordinating with the MILF despite the dangers of a firefight between the SAF and MILF forces because of intelligence information that Marwan was being given sanctuary by the MILF.

Thus it comes as no surprise that a certified US puppet like Aquino would have had no second thoughts about giving the go-signal for the ill-conceived operation at the sacrifice of the lives of so many SAF personnel in exchange for the prospect of having bragging rights to Marwan’s neutralization.

Speculations are rife and the entire truth will have to await an impartial and thorough investigation.  But there are enough undisputed facts surrounding the Mamasapano disaster that point to an epic fail in intelligence and leadership, military and otherwise. #

Published I Business World
2 February 2015

KMU: Dagdag pasahe sa MRT&LRT, pabigat sa bayan

MRT North Avenue Station
February 2, 2015

Mamasapano tragedy: Gabi ng pagluluksa at paghahanap ng katotohanan

Promotion of Church People’s Response condoles with the families of the PNP officers and MILF and BIFF elements whose untimely deaths occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, due to unresolved armed conflict in the country. They offer prayers for nations that will unearth the root cause of this tragedy with prudence and wisdom.

NCCP, Edsa
January 30, 2015

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Podcast on Mamasapano encounter

Panayam ng Kodao Productions kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil sa madugong sagupaan sa pagitan ng SAF at MILF sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao noong January 25, 2015.

February 1, 2015

Ano ang inyong masasabi sa pahayag ng FBI na walang kinalaman ang US sa naganap na Mamasapano encounter?

JMS: Nasa katangian at papel ng FBI na magsinungaling tungkol sa covert operations o lihim na operasyon nito. Mahaba at malalim ang pakialam ng FBI sa proyekto na hulihin o patayin si Marwan at Usman. Nahahalata naman ito sa lantarang pagtanggap ng FBI na sila ang bahala sa reward money at sa DNA analysis. Pero may kinalaman din ang FBI sa pagsasanay sa Special Action Force, sa intelligence at pagsasagawa ng Oplan Wolverine.

May papel ang FBI sa porma ng bilateral police cooperation. Pero kasangkot din ang iba pang ahensya ng Amerikano,tulad ng US Army Special Forces. US Army facility ang GPS surveillance at real-time monitoring sa communications gadget na ipinain kay Marwan at mga aide niya. At malamang na si US Ambassador Goldberg o ang CIA station chief ang nag-utos kay Aquino.

Ayon sa mga tao sa baryong pinangyarihan ng sagupaan, may blue-eyed na Amerikanong sundalo na nakita nilang patay. At nakunan naman ng retrato ang Amerikanong sundalo mula sa Joint Staff Special Operations Task Force. Kasama sila sa pagtingin, pag-usisa at pagkuha sa mga bangkay ng mga sundalong SAF. Lumabas ang mga retrato sa mga peryodiko.

Prayers for truth and accountability at fallen troopers’ wake

The Promotion of Church People’s Response and Kapatirang Simbahan Para Sa bayan (Kasimbayan) offered prayers and songs for truth and accountability at the wake of the fallen police troopers at Camp Bagong Diwa last Friday night. They were led by San Carlos (Negros Occidental) Bishop Jerry Alminaza and United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Gabriel Garol.

A battalion-strong Special Action Force unit of the Philippine National Police raided several adjacent camps of two Bangsamoro groups on a supposed mission to arrest two international terrorists last January 25. The said mission was reportedly based on intelligence information provided by United States agencies. The ill-planned operation, approved and ordered by President Benigno Aquino III, resulted in the death of 44 police troopers, at least 13 Moro fighters and seven civilians, including a child.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Podcast on Aquino’s statement on Maguindanao encounter (Part 7)

ITANONG MO KAY KAY PROF: Tungkol sa talumpati ni Aquino hinggil sa sagupaan at maraming namatay na SAF sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Panayam ng Kodao Proucions kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison, January 28, 2015

7. Sinabi ni President Aquino sa kanyang pahayag na may binuo nang board of inquiry, mapagkakatiwalaan po ba ito ng mamamayang Pilipino?

Hindi mapagkakatiwalaan ang board of inquiry na yan. Mga tauhan ni Aquino ang bumubuo. Hindi nila kayang papanagutin si Aquino o ungkatin ang pag-utos ng mga opisyal na Amerikano kay Aquino. Hindi independent ang board. Ang kaya nilang sisihin ay yong commander ng SAF at yong mga isinubo sa tiyak na kamatayan.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Podcast on Aquino’s statement on Maguindanao encounter (Part 5-6))

ITANONG MO KAY KAY PROF: Tungkol sa talumpati ni Aquino hinggil sa sagupaan at maraming namatay na SAF sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Panayam ng Kodao Productions kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison, January 28, 2015

5. Kailangan pa bang magpatuloy ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng MILF at GPH? Kung oo o hindi, bakit?

JMS: Dahil sa insidente, lalong kailangan ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng GPH at MILF. Kung matitigil ang peace negotiations, lalo pang mas maraming mamamatay sa labanan. Kasalanan ni Aquino na linabag niya ang ceasefire agreement sa pagbalewala sa konsultasyon at koordinasyon sa MILF.

Binalewala rin niya ang koordinasyon sa mismong mga sundalo niya sa PhIlippine Army sa paligid. Walang kwenta siyang commander-in-chief. Dahil sa kriminal na kapalpakan niya, baka matupad ang hangarin ng former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales na ikudeta siya.

6. Ano ang inyong masasabi sa pahayag ni dating president Erap na itigil na ang peace talks para hindi na maulit ang pangyayari?

JMS: Noon pang Presidente siya, nais na ni Erap na pulbusin ang MILF at Bangsamoro. Sinalakay niya ang mga kampo ng MILF. Pero hindi naman siya nagtagumpay sa panaginip niyang durugin ang MILF at Bangsamoro. Dahil sa pagsalakay niya sa Bangsamoro, lumubha ang kanyang budget deficit at lalong gumewang ang paghahari niya hanggang ibinagsak siya ng sambayanang Pilipino.


Kabataang Makabayan’s 50th anniversary last November 30 was celebrated yesterday with the stage musical KM@50 at the University of the Philippines Theater. Here are excerpts of its first staging.

LARAWAN: Mamasapano encounter: Gabi ng pagluluksa at pakikidalamhati

Church and peace advocates condole with the families of the PNP-SAF,MILF and BIFF forces whose untimely deaths occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
EDSA, Quezon City
January 30, 2015