Questions raised on bloodbath, Aquino gets mounting criticisms PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 31 January 2015 11:59

As the entire country joined a day of mourning Friday over the death of 44 police commandos in a bloody battle, intriguing questions have raised and criticisms mount against the government of Philippines President Benigno Aquino III.

Filipinos all over the country are seeking answers as to how and why the bloodbath happened and demanding justice for the fallen police commandos who died in what is now known as a controversial encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that signed a peace agreement with Manila on March 27 last year.

Anger on the president intensified Thursday as he did not show up during the arrival the flag-draped coffins of the slain police troopers at Villamor the Philippine Air Force Base

Some compared Aquino to US President Obama, who had been always present when bodies of US soldiers killed in  the Middle East arrived in the US.

“I am a private senior citizen but I will be at the airport when SAF (Special Action Force) bodies will arrive. I enjoin others to be there. Let’s pass this on. Hopefully, Zamboanga City will give them a real heroes’ welcome. Let’s line up the streets where they will pass. Let’s light candles along the way. At least this small recognition to them is worth millions. they deserve nothing less,” Manny Dalipe, former mayor of Zamboanga City, who served the Philippine Air Force as helicopter pilot, urged in a Facebook comment.

“President Obama epitomizes definition of real leadership not defending on his calendared schedule . He decides on what he feels is right and proper.Hope we have a President like Obama,” added, Mila Fernandez, retired health department undersecretary.

“Like many others I was expecting our dear President to welcome our fallen policemen, our heroes at the Airport. But he opted to go to the Mitsubishi inauguration,” hotelier Monsi dela Cruz said.

Aquino is battered with criticism after Filipinos learned that Instead of being present at the arrival of the coffins since he is the commander-in-chief, the president graced the inauguration of newly opened car manufacturing plant.

“Listening to the news these days is just infuriating. Noynoy, stop blaming the SAF for their ‘failure to ‘coordinate’ with the MILF! SAF is a legitimate arm of the Philippine government and you’re saying that they need to ask permission to enter a part of the Philippine territory Why? Is that place (Maguindanao) already belongs to the MILF) The last time I checked, our spineless, gutless President cannot give any part of the country away. They (police commandos) died serving a President who just turned his back on them. Shame on you, Aquino!,” said Zamboangueña Dawn Broce in her Facebook account.

Zamboanga City joined the mourning for the fallen 44 police commandos by holding a candle lighting activity Thursday night along city streets.

Declaring Friday as “Black Friday”,  hundreds of students of Ateneo de Zamboanga University joined the activity during which they offered silent prayers.

“We mourn the loss of human lives due to acts of violence. We call for justice for all the victims of violence in Mindanao,” said an ADZU student.

The relatives of the fallen police troopers describe the killing “worse than a massacre.”

“It was worse than massacre, because they were stripped of their firearms, uniforms and other possession,’ Dominador Nacionalez, father of PO2 Omar Nacionalez, told GMA News.

Nacionalez said that even after making sure the SAF men were dead, the perpetrators even took their belongings.

“They did it intentionally,” he said.

Valentin Senin of Pangasinan in Northern Philippines seeks justice for the death of his cousin PO3 Romeo Senin Jr.

“His foot was decapitated,” lamented Senin.

“We seek for your help to attain justice,” was the message to President Aquino of the widow of one of the slain 44 policemen during necrological services on Friday in a police camp in Metro Manila.

In a tearful speech with Aquino in attendance, the widow of Sr. Insp. Ryan Pabalinas  narrated how she and her daughter had qualms about her husband’s latest mission, which proved to be his last, reporteed GMA News.

“‘Daddy, don’t leave,” Erica Pabalinas recalled her daughter telling her husband, before he went on a mission that saw the members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force killed in a battle with MILF forces Sunday.

Pabalinas said that she was “consoling myself that he died a hero.”

“All I ask right now is justice, not only for my husband, but for everyone who fought and fell,” she said.

Pabalinas also urged other widows to remain strong for the sake of their families.

Social media has been awash with commentaries on the clash on Sunday (January 25) between members of the Special Action Force, an elite police unit, and armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Perhaps it would be more accurate to use the word “clashes”, as it appears from news reports that the policemen first engaged the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and later the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“One of the things that have remained unclear is this: Against which group did the SAF sustain a bigger number of casualties? How many policemen died in the encounter with the BIFF, and how many were killed in the subsequent clash with the MILF?” asked MindaNews columnist Marcos Mordeno.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas had said the police commandos “inadvertently maneuvered” into the MILF enclave during an anti-terror operation.

“Roxas’ statement carries a host of meanings. What exactly did he mean by “maneuverings” in the BIFF area that led the policemen into an MILF lair? If the government forces already had in sight the BIFF camp, they could not have strayed into an MILF area except if Roxas used the word “maneuverings” as a clever substitute for withdrawal after being outfought by the breakaway group. The same statement implied almost total ignorance of the area on the part of the policemen,” Mordeno said.

“Another possible operational lapse has emerged too: There seems to be no extraction point, a must in all commando-type operations, which may explain why many policemen were killed as they tried to get out of hostile territory. It would help to know if the surviving policemen were rescued within a contiguous area or in different spots that are quite far from each other. If there was an extraction point, intervening events could have prevented the remnants of the SAF from reaching there. For instance, confusion and demoralization might have set in after some of the commissioned officers died,” he said.

Aquino had declared a National Day of Mourning Friday to honor the fallen police troopers.

The president askedpublic institutions and installations to lower the Philippine flag to half mast.

“These deaths are a great loss to our people and during this time of grief, a most solemn commemoration and respect is called for,” it said. — RR