Two weeks after the deadly Mamasapano clash, Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino managed to come up with a better spin on the tragedy during his recent speech addressed to the nation. After receiving confirmation of the killing of Zulkifli bin Hir (a.k.a. “Marwan”), he declared the operation a “success” despite the 44 casualties:
Mabigat ang naging kapalit ng tagumpay na ito. 44 na bayani ng Special Action Force ang nagbuwis ng buhay.
BS Aquino calls Operation Wolverine – the covert operation to capture two of FBI’s most wanted bomb makers “Marwan,” and Abdul Basit Usman – a success but hasn’t admitted to prior knowledge of the operation. He also hasn’t admitted to knowing about it even when FBI agents were said to have accompanied the SAF troopers and even when he was close by in Zamboanga City during the operation. He thinks Filipinos are stupid.
Unfortunately for BS Aquino, the public does not have the patience nor the tolerance for his lame excuses anymore. They are not satisfied with his buddy and former PNP chief Alan Purisima’s resignation and are calling for him to step down too. They now realize he is unfit to be their leader.
In his recent speech announcing the acceptance of Purisima’s resignation, he vowed to go after the killers of the 44 fallen SAFs. He also promised to continue hunting for the Filipino bombmaker Usman who got away during the Mamasapano clash. He asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for help. All of the above sounded like mere motherhood statements. Never mind that Usman got away because he got help from the MILF militants. The bomb maker is obviously valuable to the rebel group. Why would they give him up? BS Aquino seems too dense to realize that the MILF are not really into him.
If you want more evidence that BS Aquino is unfit to be a leader, then I suggest you watch the video of him speaking in front of members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNPSAF) in the early hours of January 30. It was bad enough that the men and women were tired and grieving, it became worse when they were made to wait past midnight just to listen to another cringe-worthy speech from the President.
BS Aquino was late because he visited the families of the slain SAF members earlier. But he shouldn’t have forced himself on the group on the same day too. Okay, so we get it that he was trying to make up for not being present at the arrival of the bodies of the slain SAF troops at Villamor Air Base the day before but his attempt to “cheer-up” the men and women who probably hated his guts was a really bad idea. No wonder he got the “silent treatment”. It is worth noting that he was obviously forced to fix his relationship with the troops after the public outrage.
While watching the video, I felt sorry for the men and women from SAF who could only stay helplessly silent as their commander-in-chief retold them once again the same story about the time he and his security men got ambushed during a failed coup d’etat in 1987. The elite forces can be forgiven if they thought they would rather be in the battlefield than listen to PNoy’s “pep” talk. It must have been torture having to endure another self-centered speech immediately after the last one two days earlier.
Pathetic is the word that best describes the situation after an awkward silence followed BS Aquino’s repeated requests for the elite troopers to communicate with him. He came across as someone who could not read the situation properly or someone who doesn’t care if the other party is not really into him. This was evident in the way he was forcing himself on them. One wonders if this is the reason why he doesn’t have a wife or a steady girlfriend. But I digress…
Unfortunately, no matter how many speeches BS Aquino gives about the operation, the President still fails to shed light on why the SAF did not get reinforcements or help from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while they were under attack from the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
After reading various reports from mainstream media, two possible theories emerged around why there was a “lack of coordination” between the SAF and AFP. One, the head of “Operation Wolverine” intentionally did not coordinate. Since former PNP Chief Alan Purisima, who was suspended at that time, didn’t want a lot of people to know that he was the one leading the operation. BS Aquino has not admitted categorically that he gave Purisima the go signal to proceed with the operation even while suspended but Purisima’s resignation says a lot. Even without saying “yes, Purisima was involved”, his resignation is good strategy applied by the administration to let the pressure off BS Aquino by appeasing an enraged public.
The other theory is, BS Aquino decided to avoid involving the military. That is why even when the SAF troopers were already calling for help because the militants were slaughtering them, the military couldn’t go to their aid. The reason for this was obvious during BS Aquino’s initial speech three days after the tragic event. At that time, he kept emphasizing the need to push through with the passing of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He spoke about it more than the deaths of the 44 SAF troopers. Obviously, the President didn’t want to jeopardize it and the participation of the military in the said operation would have. He was said to have ordered the military to “stand down” instead of “go in” and help the SAF:
It was not clear from our source who radioed the Drone command center and addressed words to his superiors, saying, “Sir, papasok na kami [Sir, we will now go in].” To which the President allegedly responded, “Negative, negative. Stand down.”
Aquino was probably afraid that sending in reinforcements would violate the terms of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between his peace negotiators and those of the MILF. He must have also been apprehensive that if the comprehensive agreement were breached, a full-blown war could ensue and doom the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law now pending in Congress.
So if that were the case, BS Aquino did abandon the troopers. What’s even mind-boggling is how he is still reluctant to condemn the atrocities committed by the members of the MILF. Even with the knowledge that the people he is negotiating with mutilated some of the bodies of the SAF troopers, BS Aquino still wasn’t moved enough to scrap the deal. He wasn’t even angry about the way their bodies were desecrated. In fact, BS Aquino could still afford to smile during the necrological service. That’s not something someone with a rational mind would do. That’s not someone who is fit to lead the nation.
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