After Mamasapano: PMA ’81 comes home
After Mamasapano: PMA ’81 comes home
The Mamasapano tragedy casts its long shadow on this year's Philippine Military Academy homecoming

MANILA, Philippines – The mistahs of the country’s top military academy gather for its homecoming, but all is not well. The latest tragedy to stir this country of around 80% Christians and  20% Muslims traces its roots in this institution. It’s where most of the police and military generals graduated. 

Bea Cupin reports.

On these grounds, men who now hold key positions in the bureaucracy, the military and the​ ​police​ ​were shaped under strict military training.

And these men return every year to the yearly homecoming of the prestigious Philippine Military Academy.

This year, its alumni carry with them a huge burden, the biggest crisis to hit President Benigno Aquino’s administration, a​ ​January 25 police operation that killed top terrorist Marwan ended in the death of 65 people​, 44​ ​of them,​ ​elite cops. At the center of the controversial police operation are police and military generals who once called Fort del Pilar home. 

Noticeably absent from​ ​the​ ​event​​ resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima​,​ ​Class 1981. Purisima played a key role in the operation, dishing out advice and​ ​attending briefings​ ​with the president​ despite serving a suspension order over a corruption case.

The man who took over during the Purisima’s​ ​suspension, Leonardo​ ​Espina doges questions about​ ​the resigned chief. He is Purisima’s​ ​mistah or classmate from the PMA’s Dimalupig class​.​

Also a no-show is​ ​the relieved commander of police’s ​​Special Action Force​​, ​Getulio Napeñas​.​ He was ground commander for th​e​ Mamasapano​ ​operation​​. ​He decided​ ​not to inform the PNP’s top officials, the Interior chief, and the military about the operation.

Military officials criticized for failing to save the ​commandoes in Mamasapano​ are in full attendance​:​ AFP chief Gregorio Catapang, Jr. and Wesmincom head Rustico Guerrero, both members of the Dimalupig class, and 6th Infantry Division chief​ Edmundo ​Pangilinan of PMA Class 1983.

The effects of the Mamasapano encounter go beyond the marshlands.

It endangers a long-awaited peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, casts doubt over the President, and seemingly pits brother against brother: the AFP against the PNP, mistah against mistah.

This weekend is about merriment and for many, a longing for simpler days spent on inside Fort del Pilar. But when the celebrations are done and the last goodbyes said, it’s back to business for the men who promised to serve the country come hell or high water. Bea Cupin, Rappler, Baguio City. –

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