The tragic Mamasapano operation (mounted during the term of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III) in which 44 Special Action Force officers were massacred by elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was not a military operation. It was a police operation gone wrong. This fact, however, did not stop Opposition “activists” from making a statistical comparison between it and the recent war to liberate Marawi City of Islamic terrorists and drawing stupid conclusions from the exercise.
A meme is being circulated by the Facebook “activist” group Silent No More PH (SNM) to spark “debate” around a cherry-picked set of statistics comparing Mamasapano and Marawi.
The geniuses behind SNM are likely to be basketball fans seeing that this is an exercise sufficiently dumbed down for that level of discourse. But there are four facts about the two operations that were conveniently left out of the cherry basket:
(1) The police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) worked in close coordination in Marawi City.
(2) The AFP were left out of the loop in the planning and execution of the Mamasapano operation.
(3) Key government officials in Malacanang were all generally on-board and committed to seeing the Marawi War through to completion.
(4) In the case of Mamasapano, divisions at the top of the command chain (both on the military and in Malacanang) directly contributed to unnecessary casualties to the deployed police teams. Most notable of all was the communications blackout between then President BS Aquino himself and then Department of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to whom the Philippine Police reported.
Just on these four facts alone, any idiotic call to a “debate” on comparisons between Mamasapano and Marawi is effectively revealed as fallacious before any further fact is brought to bear.
Even if we discount the above flawed-by-design chain of command of the Mamasapano encounter, the nature of operations on the ground don’t make for an apples-to-apples comparison between the two. Marawi City was a complex attack operation against an enemy that was deeply dug into defensive positions. It was reported later that they made use of ratholes and trenches that made the AFP’s push into the city all the more dangerous.
It is also actually quite ironic that SNM would suggest that the longer time it took to complete the Marawi War made its execution inferior in nature to the Mamasapano operation which, according to its meme took only one day to complete (in contrast to the five months of fighting in Marawi). Perhaps Marawi could have been taken a lot faster (and involved less military casualties) if, rather than send ground troops to liberate the city in door-to-door street fighting, the AFP had, instead, made more use of artillery and aerial bombardment (like the US did in the “liberation” of Manila in World War II). But, of course, that too would’ve raised eyebrows of disapproval amongst these high-horsed guardians of ethical behaviour. One really can’t win in a “debate” with idiots.
In the case of the Zamboanga siege, the forces of the enemy, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari, weren’t as deeply-entrenched within the city as the Maute-led Islamic State forces were in Marawi. And, again, there really is no comparing the two-bit banditry of the MNLF with the bigger potential threat to national — and regional — security of the enemy in Marawi City.
Ultimately, all SNM really achieves by engaging in these quaint social media stunts is disrespect the valour of Filipino soldiers who fought and died in these conflicts. To the people behind SNM, they are all just artefacts to be sacrificed to the gods of their partisan agenda.
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