#Mamasapano: Seeds of Doubt and Mists of Half-Truths

It’s been nearly two weeks after the first public hearing on the Mamasapano massacre. So far, more questions seem to have emerged as the scarcity of believable answers is sowing seeds of doubts and propagating more skepticism over the Aquino government’s actions after the Mamasapano incident. Two important factors seem to pose severely difficult hurdles to the quest for truth and justice: the obvious attempts to insulate President Aquino and the indurate push for BBL.

Are they really hiding something?

This week, the House of Representatives decided to indefinitely stop their hearings. The reason: the congressmen wanted to wait for the results of the investigations of the Board of Inquiry. This is rather unusual considering that these congressmen already knew that the Board of Inquiry will not be able to release their results until at least after a month. Even more curious is the timing of the suspension. As chaotic and rowdy as the House of Representatives hearing was, it was still not entirely a futile exercise. At the very least, it was the Lower House hearing that extracted the vital detail that finally linked President Aquino to the fiasco.

It was a congressman, ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, who brought up the text message by Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Lt. General Rustico Guerrero to 6th Infantry Division commander Major General Edmundo Pangilinan. Guerrero’s text message was as follows:

“Best effort without endangering our reinforcing troops per guidance from President. Ensure no friendly fires. If we can resupply them with ammo and food, how?”

This was an important little detail that three hearings in the Senate failed to uncover.

A number of congressmen expressed dismay over the sudden suspension of the hearings. The “usual suspects” Terry Ridon of Kabataan party list, Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, and Rep. Antonio Tinio voiced out their objection to the suspension. The United National Alliance of VP Binay likewise expressed discontent over the surprise cessation of hearings. Magdalo party list representative Gary Alejano and Zamboanga City First District representative Celso Lobregat were also disappointed over the stopping of the Lower House hearings on the Mamasapano incident.

Some would jokingly say that the hearings of the House of Representatives were stopped because of the embarrassment it brought to the congressmen. The way it was handled by the committee chairmen, the bungled English, and the flea market resembling rowdiness and the disorderliness of the hearing allegedly brought the Lower House’s reputation to new lows. The joke may actually be more than half-meant.


Are the government’s peace negotiators really representing the government?

draft-bbl-turnoverYes, they apparently represent the heart of the Aquino government – the treacherous heart of a government extremely obsessed with a dubious peace accord that it is willing to sacrifice the lives of its police force. However, they hardly have any semblance of being representatives of the Republic of the Philippines. The whininess and defensiveness in the voices of both OPAPP Secretary Ging Deles and government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer sound nothing but a representation for the MILF. Make no mistake, this is not a personal attack. It’s just that every time this duo speak, they have nothing but denials on behalf of the MILF or justifications in favor of the MILF. We wonder if the MILF really needed to have Iqbal sent to the Senate hearings to speak for the MILF.

Senator Cayetano’s well-backed and candid arguments on the MILF’s terrorism links and track record when it comes to pursuing peace are commendable. Thankfully and fortunately, there’s one senator who does not hesitate to dig deeper into the intentions and sincerity of the MILF in wanting peace. This is despite being self-professedly supportive of President Aquino, who intelligently interpellated the government’s duo of peace negotiators to expose their true colors. In one of the public senate hearings last week, it was impressive how Cayetano managed to show Deles and Ferrer’s awkwardly reflex-like response to questions that put the sincerity and credibility of the MILF on the spot. At one point, Cayetano simply asked Ferrer about the government’s policy on negotiating with terrorists, a simple question answerable by a yes or no, and the latter immediately jumped to defending the MILF without answering the question. Her response bared her frame of mind and betrayed all the pretensions of being a representative for the Philippine government.

Just this Wednesday afternoon, in an interview with Karen Davila on DZMM, Secretary Deles again didn’t fail to lengthily utter statements that were all about defending the MILF and advocating the BBL. When she was asked about her recorded conversation with Senator Bongbong Marcos wherein she said SAF should be held accountable, Secretary Deles certainly failed to convince anyone that her words were justified and instead rode along the defense that the conversation was private and should have not been recorded and shared. Senator Marcos confirmed that the audio recording is real but claimed that he was not responsible for it.

Is sincerity present in the actions of the Aquino government and the MILF?

gph milf

Now, weeks after the Mamasapano carnage, the seeds of doubt are germinating as they are kept moist by the mists of half-truths. The lack of trust is worsening. Even President Aquino’s allies are conceding that Aquino’s handling of the Mamasapano incident has already affected his endorsing power. People are already becoming skeptical not only of the MILF’s sincerity in wanting peace but also in the government’s inclinations. Is the Aquino government still a representation of the Filipino people or has it already surrendered everything to the MILF just for the sake of having the contentious Bangsamorio Basic Law passed?

President Aquino’s lengthy talks with the families of the fallen SAF members are widely perceived to be part of his damage control attempts. The recent Palace statement about Aquino’s openness to disclosing his role in the Mamasapano tragedy, at best, already sounds like a “too late the hero” effort. Well, everybody should have already been used to it, given the President’s notoriety for being merely reactive, tantrum-throwing, and barely contemplating.

All in all, it appears that sincerity only exists on the Aquino government’s side with respect to its commitment to striking that elusive peace deal with the MILF. Does Aquino have any sincerity towards the families of the fallen SAF heroes or his national constituency? Difficult to tell. Sincerity on the part of the MILF, though, is rather easy to evaluate. They returned 16 firearms weeks after it was sought and still not everything that ought to be returned. So that counts as sincerity, right?

maguindanao massacre

Nobody wants war. Everybody would always seek peace. However, there are seeds of doubt everywhere being nurtured by the inconsistencies and partial truths peddled by the government and the MILF. These need to be addressed first by the resolute and timely pursuit of truth and justice.

As originally posted on Seeds of Doubt and Mists of Half-Truths, Blog Watch/Philippine Online Chronicles.