The Senate hearings on the Mamasapano massacre have revealed how huge a threat to the Republic the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has become, and how the establishment of a Bangsamoro (Moro Nation-State) in Mindanao could dismember this nation.
As important at this time for our nation is that the testimonies on what happened that tragic day have also portrayed a President who may have a psychological disorder, serious enough to hamper “the discharge of the powers and duties of his office.”
Consider the facts.
Suspended police chief Alan Purisima sent President Aquino at 5:45 a.m. his first text message on the commando operation the two had been planning for months—that international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir aka “Marwan” was killed.
Most probably since he was still soundly asleep at that time —even if he was briefed that the time on target would be 2:30 a.m.—Aquino replied only two hours later, 7:36 a.m., eager to know if the operation was a complete success. “The other two targets?” he texted Purisima.
The exchange of messages between Aquino and Purisima (see attached transcript) show a President angry that the other two targets had escaped, and that the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers were engaged in a firefight, most likely with the MILF. Three hours later, at 10:16 a.m., Aquino sent the message to Purisima, an angry order: “Basit [Usman, the second target of the operation] should not get away. “
He obviously didn’t care how the SAF troopers were, as he didn’t even ask if they got the Army support Purisima said they would in his early messages.
That was the last message Purisima received from Aquino. The President didn’t even acknowledge receiving his messages sent 11:36 a.m. and then 6:20 p.m.
He may even have turned off his cell phone to get the botched operation off his mind, just as he would turn off a bad computer war game.
Aquino’s messages early in the morning clearly show he was privy to the operation, knowing such details as the number of SAF troopers directly involved (160), the kind of terrain the troops would encounter (“flat and clear”), and three targets. His text messages clearly show that he was treating Purisima as if he was the operation’s overall commander despite the fact that he had been suspended by the Ombudsman in December.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and even AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang—his top security officials—were with him starting 9 a.m., after his exchange of texts with Purisima, when they were at the VIP departure lounge of Villamor Airfield before they boarded the plane to Zamboanga City.
Not even in chitchat
Did Aquino relay to them the reports he got from Purisima, even just for chitchat as they waited for the plane? No.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas testified that he sent the President a message at 8 a.m. informing him of the SAF operation and the emerging problem of the commando’s escape. And ‘what was the President’s reply?,’ Senator Nancy Binay asked.
“Thank you,” Roxas said. Nothing else.
Did the President, while they were in Zamboanga, ask them for advice on how to rescue the trapped commandos? No, his three top security officials testified under oath.
This strange behavior of Aquino in a period of crisis could only mean one thing:
After being informed that only one terrorist was killed, with the other two targets escaping, and that Muslim insurgents had pinned down the SAF troopers, the commander-in-chief got mad and berated Purisima.
He realized that there was a high probability that police commandos would be killed, and that his dream of taking out international terrorists had turned into a nightmare.
He panicked, and then went on a reality-denial mode. He froze, and couldn’t even ask his closest officials what to do.
He went around Zamboanga City the whole day as if nothing was happening in Maguindano just 40 kilometers away.
It would only be late in the day, at 5 p.m., after 44 SAF troopers lay dead in a cornfield, with Muslim insurgents looting their corpses and reports of the casualties coming in, that he was forced to ask his officials explain to him what the hell happened. Gazmin, Roxas and the other generals couldn’t even testify in the Senate hearing what orders the President issued.
Because there were none.
The President’s very strange behavior during a life-and-death crisis, for him to pretend nothing was happening indicates a psychological disorder, reality-denial, or denialism, an unconscious defense mechanism to deal with emotional pain when things don’t go as imagined.
Our constitution has foreseen such a rare situation, when the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. The Mamasapano massacre is proof he is unable to discharge his powers and duties, most likely because of a psychological disorder.
Article VII, Section 11 of the Constitutions provides a most peaceful way of preventing another massacre:
“Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”