Friday, February 20, 2015

Lacson urges Aquino: Come clean on role in Mamasapano tragedy

From the Website of INQUIRER

Lacson urges Aquino: Come clean on role in Mamasapano tragedy

MANILA, Philippines — “The problem with prevaricating is when too many actors and factors are involved, it becomesping-lacson extremely difficult to become consistent.”

Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson joined on Thursday demands that President Aquino bare his role in the Special Action Force raid that reportedly killed a Malaysian terrorist nicknamed Marwan but cost the lives of 44 commandos that critics said could have been saved had the Armed Forces of the Philippines responded swiftly to SOS pleas from the Philippine National Police.
“As new revelations start to unfold, it is becoming obvious that there is much more than what the President had initially admitted in his earlier public statements,” said Lacson, whose resignation took effect on Feb. 10 as presidential adviser on the recovery and rehabilitation in areas devastated by a supertyphoon a year ago.

Lacson, a former PNP chief, made the statement when asked to comment on the call that five lawmakers who had served in uniform made on Wednesday for Mr. Aquino to “step up” and take full responsibility for the massacre on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

The administration has drawn criticism for the unnecessary deaths in the operation to arrest Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and his associate Basit Usman.

Marwan was reportedly killed in the SAF operation. Initial tests conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicated that a sample of Marwan’s DNA from a finger cut by a commando raider matched that of his brother who is detained in California.

But it came at a heavy cost as 44 commandos were slaughtered while battling Moro rebel forces on their way out of Marwan’s hut. The slow response of the military to pleas for reinforcement from the SAF commander and forensic evidence that wounded troopers were gunned down at close range added fuel to an already indignant nation.

Investigations at the Senate and House of Representatives have shown gaps in communication between the police and the military during the operation known as Oplan Exodus, with the Armed Forces largely kept out until the time the SAF men were already taking heavy fire and in need of rescue and reinforcement in Mamasapano’s cornfields.
In congressional hearings last week, testimony was given about how Mr. Aquino’s trusted former police chief, suspended Director General Alan Purisima, ran the show from the start and was deeply involved in the actual assault despite his status.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and the acting PNP chief, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, also had no knowledge about the operation until it was too late.

“Accepting responsibility is always a consequence of wielding authority. It is also admirable as it is honorable no matter what the cost may be,” said Lacson, referring to the President.

He said Mr. Aquino should have been completely honest to the public from the get go.
“Having said that, being aware of the extent of his knowledge and role in the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus, taking responsibility and not deviating from the truth from the very start should have been his best option as the Commander in Chief of all Armed Forces in the country,” said Lacson.

“Those who committed acts of omission, mostly from the government side, and commission, obviously from the MILF and the BIFF… must be legally accountable for the death and overkill of the 44 SAF troopers, not to mention those killed in the cross fire,” Lacson said.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Representatives Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano of Magdalo, Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan province, Romeo Acop of Antipolo and Samuel Pagdilao Jr. of ACT-CIS said the President must answer three burning questions surrounding the SAF raid:

* When did he first know about the deadly clash between the SAF troopers and the Moro rebels?

* What did he do when he found out about the operation?

* What happened after he gave orders to the police and military to deal with the unfolding SAF rout?

“Declaring I am responsible is not enough. We want answers,” said Acedillo, who noted the conflicting and misleading statements of police and military officials on the incident.




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