Last March 18, a group of people (peace advocates they are called) trooped to Corregidor to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre, acknowledged as the catalyst of the Moro rebellion in Mindanao. There, they shed heartfelt tears and offered prayers for the victims, spoke of the brutal injustice, pondered on the significance of the event on the ongoing peace process and the well-being of the nation, and unveiled a marker in recognition of the tragic affair that they attribute to President Ferdinand Marcos.
All the fitting drama makes for a compelling spectacle, except that the event they are commemorating could be just one big hoax.
The so-called “Jabidah massacre” has been the biggest hoax foisted on this nation.
If it is, all this is but one spectacular comedy.
Photo above grabbed from Rappler.com
It’s the biggest mystery of all about the Mamasapano massacre. The call for help was made early in the morning. Yet it took all of ten hours before rescue came, when all of the SAF 44 were already dead. Why?
As it turns out, efforts to save the ceasefire with the MILF played a major role.
(A source) said that earlier in the day, (Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division) actually considered using artillery, but Brig. Gen. Charlie Galvez, head of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), pleaded with him to hold fire as the ceasefire teams were trying their best to reach both the SAF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Pangilinan gave Galvez five minutes to finish the coordination.
“It was the longest five minutes for all of us,” the source said.
Galvez returned to Pangilinan with the information that all parties involved in calling for a ceasefire, including the International Monitoring Team, were already moving to stop the fighting.
Around noon, the source said, there was no longer contact with the 55th SAC and the ceasefire was already in place.
Why no rescue, AFP Chief Gregorio Catapapang Jr. explains it’s because of the ceasefire.
The Armed Forces [could not] join the firefight because of the ceasefire agreement. That will destroy the entire ceasefire agreement and that will be like a bushfire that will spread up to Lanao and the entire peace talks with our Muslim brothers will fail,” Catapang said.
If they had joined the fighting, there could have been “a state of war” already, he added.
What should be verified was the claim there was a US Drone facility inside the AFP Wesmincom base and that the President was actually monitoring the event live there and was getting advice from peace adviser Teresita Deles.
The source said Aquino monitored the Mamasapano encounter inside the United States (US) Drone command facility at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) base in Zamboanga City.
Westmincom, which is under Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, is located inside Camp Navaro. It is also used by the US military as a temporary base where the drone command facility is situated.
Aquino, the source said, monitored the mission through a live feed transmitted by a drone, which means that the President is well aware of what was happening to the SAF men.
There were reports that drones were seen in Mamasapano prior to, and during, the SAF operation to get Marwan.
The source said some members of the security, justice and peace clusters of the Cabinet were with the president.
Despite being fully aware of the massacre of SAF commandos, the President gave no order for reinforcements because he was reminded about the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the MILF, and sending reinforcements may lead to the breakdown of talks.
…the source said it was Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who reminded Aquino about the peace negotiations.
The difficult question is: was it wrong to withhold rescue to save the peace negotiations?
There’s no way to say it gently, but it was your fault, Sir! Not all but mostly.
Your fault, Sir, lies in your trifling with the proper chain of command. In so doing, you unintentionally caused organizational confusion right at the top-most level, setting off a chain reaction cascading down the line, the final consequence being the failure of the ground forces to coordinate and organize as they should for the mission. That breakdown contributed enormously to the carnage. There is a reason why there is such a thing as command structure or chain of command or whatever else it is called and why armed forces like the PNP and the AFP observe it with rigor. I would explain it but maybe
your friends Senator Sonny Trillanes from the Navy and former Senator Panfilo Lacson also former PNP chief could do a better job expounding on why respecting the chain of command is so very crucial especially in a mission as dangerous.
But even that is forgivable, Sir, for as President you are granted so wide a latitude to do your job. It is just one of those things attributable to human imperfections. No malice intended. Heck, blunders happen even to the smartest of human beings. And certainly there were even far more deaths traceable to other presidential decisions of other Presidents.
Where you fail big time is in your conduct as a leader— after the fact. When you were nowhere to be seen at the arrival of the bodies at Villamor, but seen in a trivial event not far, that was the first and it looked really ugly. The impression you made was that of an absolutely uncaring, unsympathetic leader. Has that something to do with your experience having a murdered father? Or were you just feeling guilty?
Another stand out was your failure to denounce the MILF whose members were involved in the massacre. Heck, not even a whimper. You were everywhere instead pushing hard for the BBL and peace talks, to honor the dead, you said. Whooa! Did we hear the widows nodding and applauding in agreement for the manner their husbands are to be extolled? Whatever the motivation, the impression was that your sympathies were somehow with the very group who mowed down your own men. At the very least, a suspension of the talks and the deliberation of the BBL should have been ordered. Was your deadline more important to you, Sir, than the feelings of the public?
Now, a good leader should own up to both the successes and failures of his men. And if a leader must lash out at his men, deserved or not, he would do so not in public. That atrocious act of tarring and trashing the SAF ground commander, in a supposed prayer assembly yet, was so unbecoming, no,so disgusting, to say the least , of you as Commander in chief, Sir. We saw a man who for want of saving his own skin was all too willing to push another into a cliff. They have a name for that and it is very unflattering. Oh well, some say it runs in the blood.
Indeed, in your vain effort to wash your hands of any responsibility, you are making it worse, Sir, unwittingly revealing some things about yourself better left concealed and unsaid.
Edit: I am crossing out Senator Sonny Trillanes as it turns out he believes the President could ignore to the chain of command. Rather strange for a former military man.
All the troubles in Mindanao today are said to have been mostly triggered by the privilege speech of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in 1968. The speech, historical for its significance for many reasons, has been on occasions misinterpreted and misrepresented. For instance, it is claimed that this speech actually exposed the so-called Jabidah Massacre consequently kindling Muslim separatism. But did it really? Some even contend that this speech is treasonous in nature for exposing a state secret, undermining in the process the Philippines’ legitimate claims on Sabah. A closer re-reading of the speech could clarify many misconceptions. For perceptive ones, it even offers a glimpse into Ninoy’s soul.
Who is Jabidah?
What is Jabidah?
Jabidah, Mr. President, is the name of a ravishing, stunning and beautiful woman in Muslim lore and legend.
As Muslim legend has it, Jabidah turned a countless number of Muslim men.
As it turns out now, however, her name might well have been Helen — Helen whose matchless beauty launched a thousand ships and laid the great Greek states to siege and waste.
For as things are, as I found them in my flying spot investigation of the muddled Corregidor Affair at its root, in the Sulu isles, Jabidah is the codename for a sinister design of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
It is the codename for a supposedly super-secret, twin-goaled operation of President Marcos to wipe out the opposition — literally, if need be — in 1969 and to set this country on a high foreign adventure.
It is the codename, Mr. President, for Mr. Marcos’ special operation to insure his continuity in power and achieve territorial gains.
It is an operation so wrapped in fantasy and in fancy that — pardon the pun, Mr. President — it is not at all funny.
One columnist, Rigoberto Tiglao, did a comprehensive recount and analysis of the intervening events afterwards, the political opportunism and maneuverings that followed, the lies behind the scenes and the involvement of Malaysia in the entire narrative. A reading of these could help in better understanding the ongoing peace negotiations with the MILF and the ramifications of the Bangsamoro Basic Law being now pushed for ratification and approval.
More lessons to learn in the Mamasapano tragedy:
- leadership is crucial, especially during perilous times
- chain of command should not be taken willy-nilly
- communications is vital
- it is easier to tell the truth
Leadership is akin to that of a driver on the steering wheel. When negotiating a difficult terrain, the driver must be all-out in focus. But during the most critical hours of the mission, there obviously was an absence of leadership, just separate points of authority which could not move in unison for lack of a coordinating, guiding force. The absence of leadership was most obvious: ask the question Who was in charge?
Chain of command, or whatever term it is called, should be taken seriously, never lightly, more so in a military operation as complicated and dangerous. A miscue or a fault on the chain especially one coming from the top is bound to set off a train of complications and confusions cascading down the line resulting in a major disarray. It is called command breakdown.
During the hearings, I was hoping someone would ask (or did i miss it?): are cellphones now the primary means of communications in such missions? And why text not voice call? On social media young netizens are perplexed and amused that urgent messages were being sent through text instead of calls. In any case, communications is very crucial in coordinating disparate forces and gleaning from bits and pieces of info from the hearings and the news, apparently bad communications contributed in the collapse of command leading to the death of the SAF 44.
Lastly, well, we all lie for one reason or another. But, truly honesty is the best policy.
This is Inquirer’s editorial today. I describe it as comically inane. And it needs no explaining why. If anything, it illustrates just how the quality of anti-Marcos rhetoric has degenerated over the years. It’s striking how the anti-Marcos forces are yet left puzzling over why they are losing their grip on the younger generation to a supposed well-funded Marcos’ propaganda machine.
In the turbulence that has overtaken the Aquino administration over the disastrous end to the police initiative to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the voice of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the dictator’s only son, seems to be a font of reason. We say seem, because appearances can be misleading.
Unlike Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s comically abrupt turnabout on the peace process, obviously a knee-jerk reaction to the Mamasapano bloodbath which led to the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers (as well as at least 14 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and four civilians), the younger Marcos has only sharpened his rhetoric, while maintaining a basic position of support for the peace process.
For instance, last Friday he said the following on nationwide TV: “If BBL [the Bangsamoro Basic Law] is crucial to that peace [in Mindanao], then by all means we pass it but let us make sure to avoid bloody encounters or armed warfare in Muslim Mindanao by involving all groups and sectors together for that peace.” Sounds commonsensical enough, a rarity in emotionally charged times.
But he has also said things like the following, on Twitter: “Ang mangyayari ayon sa BBL ay ang mga MILF fighter na pumatay sa ating pulis ay magiging pulis!” A simple translation: “What will happen, according to the BBL, is that the MILF fighters who killed our policemen will become policemen themselves.” This is a horrifying prospect, if true. But in fact this is not necessarily true, unless one assumes, as Marcos does, that all MILF rebels are to become policemen (an impossibility), and that there is no mechanism to identify the rebels who took part in the Mamasapano encounter and bring them to justice.
It is also illogical: He commits the fallacy of amphiboly, hiding behind the vagueness of his terms. Yes, the BBL sees a future where the Bangsamoro will have its own police. Many of those policemen might be MILF rebels who will be integrated into the national police. Therefore, in Marcos’ view, the killers of the SAF will become policemen themselves. There are gaps in this “reasoning” process wide enough to ram his family’s ill-gotten wealth through.
Having conducted hearings on the BBL, he should at least know that there is in fact an inspiring precedent for integration: Since 1995, over 7,000 former Moro National Liberation Front rebels have been successfully integrated into the Armed Forces and the police.
So: By Twitter ye shall really know them.
On Twitter, the younger Marcos has sought to paint a picture of incompetence in the Aquino administration. (That the administration can be incompetent, as was the case with the Luneta hostage-taking incident in 2010 and as seems to be the case with the Mamasapano debacle, makes Marcos look prescient.)
But he cannot resist from trying to score political points. On Feb. 5, for instance, he tweeted: “I spent some time in the military. I know all of these records are sitting on file. I’m sure in the highest levels of the chain of command.”
The next day, an expansive Marcos tweeted something on the military again: “I remember as President, my father was knowledgeable about every military operation. The President would know about an operation this big.”
These are rightly read as criticism of President Aquino’s handling of the operation that sought to capture Marwan, especially the inescapable reality that the chain of command was not followed. But in his zeal, the younger Marcos made a simple but sweeping mistake. For the first time in recent memory, a member of the immediate
Marcos family has admitted that the dictator in fact exercised complete control.
Why is this important? Because in trial after trial, in interview after interview, none of the Marcos family members ever made a similar admission. Even in the infamous racketeering case in New York City which tried Imelda Marcos, with copious documentation of widespread corruption during the dictatorship, the former first lady’s defense was simple: She didn’t know what her late husband had done.
The younger Marcos’ words, then, represent the first time any of his family has publicly admitted that the dictator was “knowledgeable about every military operation.” The thousands of human rights cases confirmed as perpetrated by the Marcos military can now be laid squarely, resolutely, at the dictator’s feet.