Saturday, February 7, 2015

President Aquino's speech last February 6, 2015: Analysis and Effects

President Benigno S. Aquino III admitted that he is responsible for the deaths of the forty four troopers of the Special Action Force (SAF). He claims victory since the main target of the operation is to neutralise Zulkifli al hit alias "Marwan". A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report confirms  that, indeed, the DNA material gathered through the finger reportedly severed from Marwan's hand is of the terrorist's.

Aquino terms the operation as a "success" although with much sacrifice from the paratroopers who conducted it.

Mabigat ang naging kapalit ng tagumpay na ito. 44 na bayani ng Special Action Force ang nagbuwis ng buhay. Sa mga pamilya ng nasawi: Noong nakaraang Biyernes po, nakiusap akong makapanayam kayo, at salamat naman at pinagbigyan ninyo ako, sa panahong puwede ko na kayong makausap nang may dalang sapat na kaalaman sa nangyari, at mga mungkahi para sa inyong kinabukasan. At gaya po ng responsibilidad ko sa inyong mga mahal sa buhay, responsibilidad ko rin kayo; tungkulin kong siguruhing masusuklian nang tama ang sakripisyo ng inyong mga kaanak. Iyon pa rin po ang panata ko sa inyo: Sa nalalabi kong labimpitong buwan sa puwesto, ginagawa ko na at gagawin ko pa ang lahat ng nararapat para tiyaking nasa maayos ang inyong kalagayan.
Ako ang Ama ng Bayan, at 44 sa aking mga anak ang nasawi. Hindi na sila maibabalik; nangyari ang trahedya sa ilalim ng aking panunungkulan; dadalhin ko po hanggang sa huling mga araw ko ang pangyayaring ito. Responsibilidad ko po sila, kasama ang buong puwersa ng SAF sa operasyong ito, pati na ang mga nagligtas sa kanila na nalagay din sa panganib ang buhay.

I agree. Yes, SAF troopers are ready to die for their country, but really the central issue here, and which everyone I think shares this with me is this: in every operation, the goal is to accomplish it without or at least minimum casualty. In this case, the entire operations team was killed by the enemy.

And this is NOT without anomaly--the President himself admitted in his speech that the situation has changed several times from the original plan.

2002 pa po wanted sina Marwan at Usman. Marami nang operasyon para tugisin sila, bago pa tayo maging Pangulo. Itong pinakahuling bersiyon ng plano ay makailang ulit na rin pong in-abort. Tulad ninyo, gusto ko ring malaman ang buong nangyari sa pagkakataong ito, at buo ang tiwala kong lilitaw ito sa isang masusi at walang-kinikilingang imbestigasyon ng Board of Inquiry. Inaabangan po natin ang resulta nito. Pero bilang Pangulo, kasama po sa aking responsibilidad ang matukoy, ngayon na, ang mga nangyaring mali, upang maitama agad ito. Tungkulin kong mahanap ang katarungan sa lalong madaling panahon.
Dahil nga po dito, nagsagawa ako ng sariling pagsisiyasat at panayam sa mga kasama sa operasyong ito. Malinaw pong lumalabas: Malayo na ang sitwasyong dinatnan ng mga tropa, sa inasahan sa plano.

The question really is---the President accuses the former SAF commander of a wrong assessment. Aquino surely knew this from the start.

As Commander-in-Chief, and admittedly, the next one other than resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima who knew about Oplan Wolverine, the onus of responsibility actually lies with HIM. In every operation, it is the President as the highest man in the chain of command who can order the go signal.

The question is--why did the President allowed a subordinate to proceed as planned, knowing fully well that the operation has been compromised? The president failed to explain what was the difference between the first and the last plan.

We all know that the President is not a military man; hence, his knowledge of strategies and tactics are all basic. Surely, there is another person beside him who probably gave him counsel during those times.

In no straight terms, Aquino then shifted his speech to that of the purported resignation of Purisima. In this part of his speech, Aquino in no certain terms pointed to Purisima. Aquino says in very straight terms that Purisima is leaving "under these circumstances".

Kaya nga po, siguro naman ay maiintindihan ninyo kung bakit masakit para sa akin na aalis siya sa serbisyo sa ilalim ng ganitong pagkakataon. Tinatanggap ko po, effective immediately, ang resignation ni General Purisima. At nagpapasalamat ako sa mahabang panahon ng kanyang paglilingkod bago mangyari ang trahedyang ito.

This phrase is deceptive to say the least. It is now clear---Purisima resigned due to this issue. This is the president's admission--that Purisima was indeed, involved in this operation and because of this, he is resigning.

This admission opens a floodgate of questions.


  1. Purisima was ordered suspended by the Courts prior to this operation. Who gave Purisima the power to command and control? Surely, it is the President. 
  2. Purisima resigned because of this issue. That is an admission that he took part in this operation, since his resignation was not about his current legal predicament but on this issue, as claimed by the President. So, then, that shows us that Purisima assumed a major role in this botched operation. 
  3. Since Purisima did, indeed took part, then, here comes the great question--who gave him the power while he was under suspension? Did he managed the operation alone? Of course not! The President admitted in the clearest tone that he is responsible. So, who gave him faulty counsel which led to the deaths of the SAF troopers?
  4. Did the President broke the law when he took Purisima under his bosom to direct this operation? Yes. The president once more, disrespected the order of a co-equal constitutional body--the Office of the Ombudsman. Imagine, Aquino did not even consider that Purisima was suspended, and therefore, cannot mobilise augmentation troops that easily knowing full well that he is not fully in control of the organisation. 
  5. What happens now with Purisima? He remains a member of the police force until his retirement. His resignation only affects his position as chief PNP, not his rank and surely, not his status. What about his case before the Ombudsman? It will definitely continue since he is being accused of something which he did while chief of the police force. That is settled.
Now, here comes the scandalous part. 

In his speech, the President called on the MILF to surrender those who are responsible for the carnage.


Sa mga kasapi at liderato ng MILF: Mula pa noong umpisa, tinuturing ko kayo bilang mga kapatid sa paghahangad ng kapayapaan. At hanggang ngayon, umaasa ako na tutulong kayo na hanapin ang hustisya; kailangang panagutin ang lahat ng may sala, lalo na kung totoong may mga sugatan at hindi makalaban na tuluyan pa ring pinatay. Magandang unang hakbang ang pagkilos ninyo upang limitahan ang kilos ng BIFF.
Ukol naman kay Usman, nais kong ipahayag: Kung nasa loob siya ng inyong teritoryo o nasa ilalim siya ng pangangalaga ng sinuman sa inyo, inaasahan kong isusuko ninyo siya sa mga awtoridad. Kung hindi, ay gawin ang lahat upang tumulong sa pagdakip sa kanya. At kung hindi pa rin maaari ito, ay huwag makialam sa aming pag-uusig kay Usman.
Magsilbi sana itong babala at paalala: Huhulihin namin si Usman, anuman ang maging desisyon ninyo, sino man ang kumukupkop sa kanya, at saan man siya nagtatago. Walang dapat magduda: Magkatuwang ang adhikain natin para sa kapayapaan at katarungan. Sa mga naliligaw naman ng landas, na magtatangka pang humadlang sa pagtugis namin kay Usman, tandaan  na ninyo: Estado ang kalaban ninyo, at sasagasaan namin kayo.

Notice in his speech, that the President already acknowledged one violation of the Articles of War committed by the MILF-- the killing of those probably unarmed or unable to fire back. Aquino should have issued as stronger speech given that the main goal of the speech is to establish him as Commander-in-Chief. This paragraph is more of an appeal rather than a quest for justice. It is more prudent to say the least for the president to strongly demand that the MILF turn over their men who committed these atrocities. 

The President also reiterated his firm commitment to the attainment of peace in Mindanao.

Sa lahat po ng nakikisanib sa atin sa paghahangad ng kapayapaan: Desidido kaming ituloy ang laban. At gusto ko rin naman pong sabihin sa mga humaharang sa ating adhikain, lalo na ang mga gumagamit ng dahas: Itaga ninyo sa bato, lalo pa ninyong madarama ang pinatalas at pinatinding lakas ng nagkakaisang sambayanang Pilipino.
Manatili sana tayong nakatutok sa ating pangunahing layunin: Ang malawakan at pangmatagalang kapayapaan. Ito ang ipinaglaban ng Special Action Force sa Mamasapano. Ito ang patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng bawat disenteng Pilipinong gustong mag-iwan ng mas magandang kinabukasan para sa mga susunod na henerasyon. Sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaisa at pagtutulungan, matatamo natin ang katarungan, masusuklian natin ang sakripisyo ng ating kapulisan, at matutupad natin ang ating kolektibong mga pangarap.

This is entirely problematic. For one, it is certain that the President wants the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law under no uncertain terms. The issue nga is the BBL was subjected to uncertainty because of the absence of a mechanism which would prevent such operational things from happening ever again. Admittedly, the BBL is still a very raw draft. It even needs surgical operation, says one legislator.

Why push for the passage of an incomplete law? The prospect of success is dim. Just because the government had committed itself with the MILF leadership that this law is to be passed this March, the government will run roughshod any attempts at further fine-tuning such a measure? Is this the right way? This is NOT a legacy worth giving to future generations, Mr. President. If this very raw and uncertain bill is passed, it will create more destabilisation and worse, wars and conflicts that would surely be worst ever.

Prudence dictates that this bill be studied more carefully and passed when all issues are settled.