Poignant images of flag-draped caskets, mothers and wives wailing in pain, their faces smeared by tears, and innocent children who will grow up with only faint memories of their fathers: all these are hard to forget.
Forty-four young men came home last week, slaughtered in an 11-hour firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the fields of Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The brief moment of victory of the men of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) – they reportedly killed their prime target, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (alias “Marwan”) who had a $6-million reward on his head – immediately descended into despair and death.
How did this happen? Why were these men, our sons, brothers, and husbands, the future blooming ahead of them, sent to their deaths?
Various accounts have been coming to the fore, from President Aquino, who said he was in touch with SAF commander Getulio Napeñas before the high-risk mission, to Napeñas’s admission about the tightly covert nature of the operation.
PNP’s top cop, OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, was kept out of the loop – unusual for such an important mission, where almost 400 SAF members were deployed. Espina candidly said that he was informed about the operation after the fact.
Amid this swirl of questions and above the din of grief and anger, the public’s voice rises, an agonized cry for the truth. The country needs to know what really happened and why—and make those responsible account for the slaughter in Mamasapano.
The board of inquiry, created by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to get to the bottom of this catastrophe, has to do its job without fear or favor and come up with credible findings and spare no one. No whitewash, no cover-ups.
Both sides – government and the MILF – have to answer for this, the biggest single-day combat loss suffered by the PNP in its contemporary history. Sanctions should fall, if they must. – Rappler.com