Mamasapano: Aquino and Roxas’ political grave, and Llamanzares’ too

THE massacre of 44 elite police troops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 last year is President Aquino and his presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II’s political graveyard.

Aquino, in his hubris that he could catch international terrorists, and then in his paralysis when the operation turned awry dug the grave, enough to fit Roxas since he stood idly by while his police commandos—whom he officially had command over —were massacred by Muslim insurgents.

Presidential candidate Grace Poe Llamanzares exploited the fiasco by projecting herself, as chairman of the committee investigating the massacre, as a competent, fearless senator out to uncover the truth.  Yet very cleverly, she left room for Aquino to wiggle out of the quagmire, and didn’t submit her committee report to the Senate, so it was just left in her office and forgotten.

image001I suspect that at that time she was hoping that by helping Aquino, he would anoint her as his successor rather than Roxas.

Or did Aquino himself, as I was told, tell Llamanzares at that time (February 2015) to help him survive the hearings, and quid pro quo, he’ll anoint her as his candidate towards the end of the year. That would explain why a Balikbayan, who can’t even boast what her highest working position in the US was, suddenly became so confident she could win the presidency of the Republic.

But Aquino obviously double-crossed her and instead offered her the vice-presidency. After that she’s been barraged by disqualification cases, which likely would strike her out of the contest.

The new investigation into the Mamasapano massacre called by senator Juan Ponce Enrile will undoubtedly show Aquino and Roxas as at best standing idly by while the Special Action Forces were being massacred.

At worse, as Enrile has hinted, the hearing would establish without doubt that Aquino called reinforcing troops to stand down, in effect leaving the SAF to the Moro insurgent wolves.

It will also expose why Llamanzares stopped short in exposing Aquino’s criminal negligence and in asking for his impeachment.

If Aquino and Roxas have any decency left, they would resign their posts when the hearings indubitably prove this.

I don’t know how any decent, intellectually honest Filipino would agree to suffer even for just a few more months a lying President with blood on his hands.

I don’t know how any decent, intellectually honest Filipino would vote for Aquino’s clone with the same blood on his hands.

Just the photos alone of Aquino and Roxas gallivanting in Zamboanga City while the SAF troops were embattled and massacred are proof enough of their criminal negligence.

Ironically these photos were by the Malacanang Photo Bureau; since Aquino’s trip to Zamboanga that day was unscheduled, the main broadsheets were unable to send their own photographers there.

Note the shadows the sun cast in the photos, which show that Aquino and Roxas were going around Zamboanga from noon to late afternoon, when the SAF troopers were being killed.

By Aquino’s and Roxas’ own statements they were aware that “Oplan Exodus”—with international terrorists Zulkifli Abdhir (a.k.a. Marwan) and Abdul Basit Usman as its targets—was well underway in the wee hours of the morning, and that shortly after daybreak the SAF troops had been pinned down in the corn fields with little cover.

They did nothing

Yet what did Aquino and Roxas do?

After a closed-door meeting with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other generals after they arrived at 10 AM at Edwin Andrews Air Base, they went to Guiwan village to see where the car bomb exploded just a few days earlier. Then they went to the Zamboanga Peninsula Medical Center to visit a wounded policeman, and to the Western Mindanao Medical Center on Santa Cruz Street where two blast patients were confined. After a long lunch probably with the local delicacy curacha served, they visited another blast victim at the Ciudad Medical Center and 10 other victims at the Zamboanga City Medical Center in Santa Catalina village. Of course, in all these affairs, Aquino and Roxas went with the hand-shaking, back-patting routine.

All these activities when the SAF troops’ bloody fate was being sealed as the hours passed by without any reinforcement nor artillery fire to scare off the Moro insurgents.

Visiting the bombing victims was actually scheduled merely as a cover story for Aquino and his several Cabinet members for them to be there, so they could proceed swiftly to Cotabato City to congratulate the SAF troopers after they had taken down the international terrorists.

Any other president, any commanding officer would have dropped everything in the face of a crisis that could mean the death of his men, so he could monitor closely the events as they unfolded, so he could issue orders to save the troops.

Even US President Obama with his closest security advisers had set up a war room to monitor the American commandos in their operation to terminate Osama bin Laden.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given special facilities to similarly do so in the operation that hunted down and killed Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya in 2002.

In Aquino and Roxas’ case, they pretended nothing was happening during those frenetic hours from mid-morning to late afternoon, when the SAF troops were pinned down and were picked off one by one by long-range MILF Barrett sniper rifles. Without help coming for the SAF, the insurgents simply waited for their ammo to run out, and then rushed them to shoot those still alive point blank one by one.

By the police commanders’ account these were the hours when they were frantically begging the Army to send reinforcements and to fire non-deadly artillery fire to scare off the Moro insurgents.

It was a criminal failure of leadership. Was Aquino so shocked and then paralyzed that his fantasy as a commander of commandos who killed two international terrorists turned into a bloody nightmare?

It is a very expensive lesson for us a nation, but one we should never forget: Never again elect a president, especially a spoiled scion of hacenderos, who hasn’t been tested in the crucible of experience and leadership.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com