While he has incredibly managed to keep his head low in the raging controversy, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is as guilty as his boss, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, for the massacre of 44 police commandos at Mamasapano.
He was fully informed of the operation of the Special Action Forces
(SAF) on Jan. 25 as early as 7:43 a.m. Yet, he didn’t lift a finger in the crucial hours of that morning and early afternoon to ensure the safety of the commandos.
If he has any decency left, Roxas should resign his post.
Consider the facts that have been gradually unearthed, especially the text messages he got and received that day.
On the second day of the Senate hearing about the tragedy, when Senator Nancy Binay asked Aquino’s security officials what time they informed him that there was a firefight in Mamasapano, Roxas said around 11 a.m., “there was a report of something happening in Maguindanao, but it was not clear.”
In the following hearing though, Roxas changed his statement to say that he was informed earlier in the morning. He explained, though: “To me there was no sense of urgency because I receive reports of similar encounters [every day], until after the report came that the number of casualties was mounting. ” He didn’t even say exactly what time he told the President — who was just beside him as they went around Zamboanga City.
He changed his statement the next hearing day, and even had the gall to protest Binay’s reminder for him to tell the truth. He said he forwarded to Aquino a message about the firefight he received from Western Mindanao Police Director General Charles Calima at 7:43 a.m. Asked in the hearing what was the President’ reply, Roxas said: “Thank you.”
He even claimed in one hearing in order to concoct his basic defense posture of not knowing anything about the event: “Masasabi lang namin kung anong alam namin. We were cut out. Ano ma-re-report namin?” (We could only tell the President what we knew. But we were cut out of the loop. What could we report then?”)
Roxas’ text messages submitted to the Philippine National Police’ s Board of Inquiry show that he was lying, and he was fully informed of what was happening that morning by Acting PNP Chief Leonardo Espina.
He was aware of the seriousness of the incident by mid-morning, that there were as many as 20 casualties, as Espina reported. He was lying that he didn’t inform the president because there was “no sense of urgency” in the reports.
What is shocking, if you read Roxas’ text messages, was he didn’t seem to be concerned about Espina’s reports of casualties. In his 10:36 a.m. message, he was more concerned over whether there was “any video or foto or DNA or personal effects (of Marwan) to verify his death”
Roxas clearly should already be indicted for perjury, for obstruction of justice, and more importantly, for criminal negligence.
Read the text messages below and you would get the same conclusion as I did that Roxas is as guilty as Aquino for the deaths of the 44 commandos for the following reasons:
He knew about the seriousness of the operation by mid-morning, yet he didn’t alert the President of the urgent need to call for a crisis conference to ensure that the Special Action Forces return unharmed – which is his duty as DILG chief.
He is in charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and next to the President is the most responsible for the safety of his men, the policemen of the PNP. Yet, he did nothing during those crucial hours when his intervention was crucial — for instance, he could have told Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang, who was beside him in Zamboanga City that day, to make sure that the army help the SAF.
If Aquino was paralyzed into inaction during those crucial hours, it was Roxas’ responsibility as DILG chief, to urge his boss to act, or call for a meeting of the security officials with or without his boss — who were all with him that day — to ensure the SAF’s safety. He didn’t.
Was it because he knew that it was the exclusive operation of then suspended police chief Alan Purisima — Aquino’s “man” whom he hated and wanted removed so badly — and therefore, he felt no responsibility over it? I suspect he even thought: “Good, Purisima would be blamed and stopped from getting back his position.”
Roxas didn’t even try to call SAF head Getulio Napeñas during those crucial hours to ask him personally about the SAF troops’ situation. It was Napeñas who communicated with him in a text message. And his reply to Napeñas (translated from Pilipino): “Keep calm and keep your head. We will not abandon the troops.”
But that exchange of messages was at 7:12 p.m., hours after the 44 commandos were massacred.
ROXAS’ TEXT MESSAGES ON JAN. 25
7:43 a.m. – Police Western Mindanao Director Charles Calima to Roxas:
“From Director SAF in the field, sir-re on-going opns agst high value targets >>> FOR: OIC PNP FROM DSAF: update re opns against HVTs. Based on the report of the ME, JI@Marwan was neutralized but the body was left behind due to heavy volume of fire and 1 wounded SAF trooper. The containment blocking force was engage 2 kms east if Tukalanipao GC 6800665717. There was heavy firefight & SAF troops suffered casualties. Extraction is on-going & support from the AFP was requested.“
7:45 a.m. Roxas to Calima: “Noted re SAF Operation. Going to Zambo now. Please get more details re SAF Operation.“
7:46 a.m. Roxas to PresideNt Aquino: “Sir, just received this. Am getting more details.”
7:48 a.m. Aquino to Roxas: “Thank you.”
10:34 a.m. Espina to Roxas: “Member of Jemaah Islamiyah reportedly neutralized in Mamasapano (txt msg from DSAF rcvd on 7:34AM 25 Jan). OOA 2:30AM, Jan 25, 2015, PNP SAF Troopers supported by Maguindanao PPO.”
10:36 a.m. Roxas to Espina: “Ok noted since Marwan body reportedly left behind, is there any video or foto or DNA or personal effects retrieved to verify his death.”
10:38 a.m. Espina to Roxas: “Am asking Dir SAF now sir.”
10:40 a.m. Roxas to Espina: “PNoy getting other reports that are conflicting with each other. Example: 160 daw SAF, 20 daw hostiles so why did they retreat eh 8:1 ang ratio.
Espina to Roxas: “Yes Sir. Sir from Dir SAF: Affirmative sir, pictures including DNA samples.”
10:42 a.m. Roxas to Espina: “Ah good. And something to compare it so we can verify.”
Espina to Roxas: “Copy po sir. Relayed to Dir SAF dir. Sir. from Dir SAF: Sir the hostilities in the area are much more than our troops & the nearby mixed armed groups were quick to reinforce.”
12:28 p.m. Roxas to Espina: “Anyway, linawin lang kung ano talaga storya. I know “fog of war” effect so pls have them sit and ikwento nila sa isang professional na debriefer/investigator”
4:09 p.m. Espina to Roxas: “Sir FM Gen Rusty Guerrero, Cmdr Westmincomm >> FM Gen Galvez, CHR GPH CCCH: Proceeding na kami sa area sir. The Joint CCCH IMT and AHJAG with teh LGU’s will retrieve the reported 26 cadavers on both sides of the river (Note: Sir, I asked him if there was coord made with them on the opns. Wala din daw sir coord sa afp. Walang nakakaalam ng opn except SAF sir)”
6:32 p.m. Roxas to Espina and PDDG Marcelo Garbo Jr.: “Hi Dindo (cc Garbo). Meron bang concept of operation ito. Where would it be. Pls look for it. Btw as of now as per Westmincomm, death toll has reached 32.”
6:32 p.m. Napeñas to Roxas: “Sir good pm. The original strength we prepared for this opn was 252 then we increased the strenth to 382 based on the guidance to increase force to be utilized. The target Marwan was confirmed dead by PSUPT TRAIN & got pictures & DNA sample. On the extraction lawless elements engaged the SAF troops.”
6:51 p.m. Roxas to Napeñas: “Hi Leo this is Mar. Got ur message.
Tanung. Per ur text. Of the 382 total force, roughly 70 are either dead (32) or being pursued and still in the field (36). What happened to the balance of 310 or so?”
7:00 p.m. Napeñas to Roxas: “Sir the remaining troops were sent to rescue the pers being pursued by the enemies together with the Army 7 rest were on a buffer zone to prevent the extraction position & exfil route.”
7:12 p.m. Roxas to Napeñas: “OK. Keep calm and keep ur head. ‘Di natin pababayaan tropa natin. PNoy gave guidance to AFP Westmincom.”