Remembering the Mamasapano massacre


Oplan Exodus PNP Special Action Force Fallen 44 members. (credits to Wikimedia)

Today is the first anniversary of the partly ill-fated Oplan Exodus operation to capture terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman, who were wanted by the United States government for terrorist activities threatening the security of the United States. The operation had postponed many times before it was executed due to fear of the government to alienate the representative of the Moros in the peace talks with the Philippine government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as Marwan and Basit Usman were hiding within the territories controlled by the MILF.

The operation was finally executed on January 25, 2015 because the government had to support the efforts of its American counterparts in fighting extremist Islam terrorism in exchange for military and economic aids expected by our country from the United States. The government had two dilemmas, whether to honor the MILF or the US government, and the dilemmas resolved by choosing the latter and the operation was executed. When the PNP Special Action Force entered the MILF territory where Marwan and Basit Usman hid, MILF told the media that the PNP SAF didn’t ask a permission from them and the MILF’s statement had angered the public arguing that the MILF as a rebel group, the government should do force to capture terrorists at all costs without following the rules of engagement like asking permission from somebody’s controlling the area where the terrorists hid. The chain of command was not followed like preempting DILG secretary and now Liberal Party presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, and instead, the operation was executed mostly upon the orders of PNP chief Alan Purisima and SAF chief Getulio Lapeñas while the president was on a visit in Zamboanga at the time of the operation.

These lapses caused the casualties of 44 PNP SAF members committed by the MILF and the immediate and lasting result of the mishap have been the increased skepticism of the general public with the peace process and the Bangsamoro Basic Law because the representative of the Moro people is the MILF and people cannot anymore trust their sincerity as they have perceived that the MILF would eventually break the proposed peace agreement thru BBL and pursue their long-time dream for independence from the Philippine Republic. For me, had both parties followed the realpolitik not just during the Oplan Exodus operation but for the entire deliberation of the peace process, 44 PNP SAF members would have survived, the people won’t give a fuss about the operation, and the peace deal would have been achieved by now. The Mamasapano massacre basically brought the dream for everlasting peace in Muslim Mindanao into a brink of collapse due to mistrusts by the Christian Filipinos with the peace deal and the false hopes by the Moros that peace deal would be achieved under the representation of the MILF on behalf of them after the massacre. For me also, to achieve the everlasting peace in Muslim Mindanao, I think both Christians, Muslims, and Lumads should be given their desired political autonomy equally like delegating the power to make economic, political, social, and cultural policies to them for their own benefit while at the same time, maintaining the territorial integrity of the country. In other words, evolving federalism should be the route for everlasting peace in our country.

The responsible of the partly ill-fated operation should pay the consequences of their actions so that the soul of slain PNP SAF members would be laid in peace and the people can move on and pursue the dream for political autonomy for everyone for the future welfare of our country.

Why total gun ban will never work

A campaign poster showing an image of Ronaldo Bae, who once ran in local elections for the post of village chief, hanging from a shanty house in Kawit, south of Manila, on January 4, 2013. Bae allegedly went on a rampage and killed five people on Friday, before dying in a gunbattle with police. (AFP)

A campaign poster showing an image of Ronaldo Bae, who once ran in local elections for the post of village chief, hanging from a shanty house in Kawit, south of Manila, on January 4, 2013. Bae allegedly went on a rampage and killed five people on Friday, before dying in a gun battle with police. (AFP)

The calls for more gun control or total gun ban have increased for the first days of 2013 as series of gun-related deaths happened from the death of a 7-year old girl and 4-year old boy in a separate incident during New Year’s Eve celebrations, to a frustrated wannabe politician (the image of that wannabe politician appears above) went on a shooting rampage, killing eight people before getting killed by responding policemen himself.

Some sectors of the population including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines are calling for an utopian gun less society, which according to gun ban advocates, would lead to genuine peace. Good to hear for a gun less society, but in reality shows that only the law-abiding citizens would follow a gun ban while those who have bad motives—crime syndicates and political tyrants—would not follow a gun ban. Even the Philippine National Police admit that there are some 600,000 loose firearms—firearms that can be easily manufactured in the black market, thus can easily be obtained by persons with bad motives—while law abiding citizens cannot easily own a legitimate firearms due to stringent gun laws in our country—during election time, you are prohibited from carrying firearms unless you obtain a gun ban exemption from the Commission on Elections or COMELEC while gun-related deaths skyrockets every election season in our country.

Why we want to penalize those who are law-abiding gun owner citizen? That is the question the gun ban advocates cannot refute and sticking with the wrong notion that guns kill people while in reality, criminals will find ways on how to achieve of what they want—hurting victims who are mostly unarmed. Maybe a psychological test for those who wants to own firearms is necessary, but a total gun ban is a knee jerk reaction of the prime cause of gun-related deaths—that are the loose firearms can easily be obtained by criminals, political tyrants, and psychopaths while law-abiding citizens cannot easily own and carry firearms anywhere in our country for self-defense from criminals. Only criminals, political tyrants, and psychopaths would be happy if there is total gun ban in our country—as no one can stop them while law-abiding citizens are disarmed. We cannot rely to our law enforcement authorities like the Philippine National Police all the time for our own safety because of lack of police manpower to safeguard all citizens of our country, thus owning a firearm is a more practical way for law-abiding citizens especially those who are living in remote areas.

The recent and future gun-related incidents in our country should not be exploited by some interests to deprive the right of the citizens for self-defense—owning a firearms. Instead, the government should look after those who are manufacturing loose firearms—many of which end up to criminals, political tyrants, and psychopaths while they should improve and train law-abiding citizens on how to use firearms properly, so that it would not end up to persons with bad motives.

Mar Roxas is the new DILG Secretary

Mar Roxas after he was appointed as the new DILG Secretary after the death of Jesse Robredo.

Few hours ago, after weeks of searching on who should be the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) due to the death of Jesse Robredo, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appointed the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Mar Roxas as the replacement of late Jesse Robredo.

His appointment earlier today was very important as this position in the executive department of our government gives direct contact especially to the Local Government Units (LGU) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which is vital for the administration to disseminate their initiatives into the grassroots of our society and to assure the loyalty of the police force to the administration.

When I heard the news that he was appointed, I was not surprised as Mar Roxas was one of the favorites of the President to replace the deceased Jesse Robredo as the DILG Secretary as the Noynoy Aquino administration needs to consolidate its political control in the grassroots side of our society through the Local Government Units and to assure the loyalty of the police force with the administration through the Philippine National Police as not having a control with these two sectors would destabilize the survival not only with this administration but also with the previous administration as history show during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it was the loyalty of the LGU and the PNP assured the survival of PGMA’s administration despite of her low satisfaction from among the intellectuals and some legislators.

Mar Roxas in 2010 was lost his vice presidential bid to Jejomar Binay, who belonged into another ticket with the presidential candidate, former President Joseph Estrada due to factionalism among the supporters of Noynoy Aquino during the campaign season and it was deepened when Senator Chiz Escudero, who supported Noynoy Aquino’s presidential candidacy, supported the vice presidential candidacy of Jejomar Binay instead of Noynoy’s running mate, Mar Roxas. The results of the 2010 elections created a division among the appointees of Noynoy Aquino during the transition period as Noynoy Aquino appointed secretaries and undersecretaries from both factions of Balay of Mar Roxas and Samar of Paquito Ochoa (Binay loyalist), who was appointed as the Executive Secretary. Mar Roxas was appointed as the DOTC Secretary, in the following year of the 2010 elections.

Mar Roxas’ appointment as DILG secretary would give him a direct contact to the LGU to advance his own presidential candidacy in 2016; to stem Jejomar Binay’s advantage and control as Vice President; and to force the Samar faction into significance by 2016 so that Noynoy Aquino’s initiative will be continued by Mar Roxas.