Monday, March 9, 2015

Filipino politician claims US behind offensives in south

From Anadolu Agency (Mar 9): Filipino politician claims US behind offensives in south

Congressman claims US wants to gain foothold in area thought to contain oil and mineral reserves valued over $1 trillion.

A Filipino congressman has accused the U.S. government of orchestrating recent offensives by the Philippines army in the country’s Muslim south, saying it aims to gain a foothold in an area thought to contain oil and mineral reserves valued over $1 trillion.

Rep. Terry Ridon of the partylist Kabataan outlined his claim in the country’s House of Representatives on Monday, claiming incidents such as the Jan. 25 Mamasapano operation -- which led to the deaths of 44 police commandos -- were part of a U.S. "multi-level strategy" to gain a foothold on the Liguasan Marsh in Central Mindanao.

"Both the U.S. government and the [President Benigno] Aquino administration make it appear that the botched Mamasapano operation and even the ongoing ‘all-out offensive’ in Central Mindanao are part of counterterrorism efforts," he said. 

On Monday, military spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said that 73 rebels and a suspected foreign militant had been killed in the three-week offensive. Outside of the 44 police commandos, six soldiers have been killed and a further 29 others wounded.

Ridon claimed Monday that the entire offensive had one single goal -- "to drive out the Moro people from an area containing vast mineral reserves and pave the way for foreign companies to exploit said resources."

Ridon's allegation echoes similar accusations from Moro human rights group Kawagib and Suara Bangsamoro, both of whom have previously claimed that U.S. military presence in Central Mindanao is directly connected to the region’s oil and mineral reserves. 

As early as 2008, there have been reports of U.S. oil engineers exploring the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh -- the country’s largest wetland -- estimating that natural gas and mineral reserves in the area can fetch somewhere between $600 billion to $1 trillion.

The marsh spans the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato, where military forces are currently conducting an "all-out offensive" against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) -- who have signed a peace treaty with the government, and newly formed group, the Justice for Islamic Movement.

Ridon on Monday blasted the "so-called counterterrorism efforts" supported by the U.S. military as nothing more than an excuse for Americans to gain foothold in Central Mindanao.

"It’s a multi-level strategy orchestrated by none other than the U.S. government," he said. "Let us connect the dots:

"First, they deployed the 600-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines for ground operations and initial surveillance. Then they launch so-called counterterrorism offensives, one of which is the Mamasapano operation, to justify their presence in Central Mindanao. Then, the Philippine government, for its part, engaged in a large-scale offensive to drive out Moro communities near Liguasan.

"It will come as no surprise if U.S. companies start flying into Central Mindanao shortly after for oil and mineral explorations," claimed the young legislator.

He claimed that the army's all-out offensive is one of the culminating activities for the plan to take over Liguasan.

"And its real goal is not to capture Basit Usman but to drive away the Moro people from their ancestral lands and pave the way for commercial exploration of the mineral-rich wetland." 

Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman was reportedly wounded in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano operation that killed one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted militants, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir -- alias Marwan.

The offensive has already displaced almost 100,000 civilians in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.  

"The U.S. government, with the full support and obedience of the Aquino administration, is toying with the lives of the people of Mindanao -- all to pursue its great economic interest in Liguasan. This strategy is not new for the world superpower, for the same tactics were employed in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan," Ridon claimed.

He called on each and every Filipino to condemn the "systematic siege" of Central Mindanao in "the highest terms."

Photo: Bodies of slain BIFF rebels claimed by relatives

From GMA News (Mar 9): Photo: Bodies of slain BIFF rebels claimed by relatives

Radjah Buayan Mayor Samsamin Ampatuan (center) on Monday, March 9, helps the relatives of the four Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) slain during Saturday and Sunday clashes with the military in Maguindanao. The alleged relatives have surfaced to claim the remains of the rebels at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Siongco Awang. Ampatuan points at the photos of the slain rebels to the relatives to identify their kin.

P1.2-B chopper deal ‘fixed’

From the Manila Times (Mar 10): P1.2-B chopper deal ‘fixed’
THE contract for the procurement of 21 refurbished UH-1 or Huey helicopters to the tune of P1.2 billion was “tailor-fitted” for a “favored” bidder who, after three failed bid attempts, eventually managed to bag the deal through negotiation with officials of the Department of National Defense (DND), documents showed on Monday.

Documents obtained by The Manila Times showed that as early as June 2012, the DND had requested the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) to allow it to enter into “emergency procurement” for various aircraft, including the 21 Huey helicopters.

But in a letter to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin dated Sept. 28, 2012, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who chairs the GPPB, informed the DND that their request was denied, saying the agency should make the acquisition through competitive biddings.

According to The Times source who provided voluminous documents that are related to the “onerous” and “disadvantageous” aircraft procurement, the DND then conducted three successive biddings, which all failed.

“The project was designed for negotiated procurement from the beginning. DND had been negotiating with Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) from the start. The Terms of Reference was prepared specially for Rice as evidenced by inclusion of the required Structural Life Extension Program (SLEP) as stated on pages 27 and 32 of the TOR. On both pages, you will see that there was a requirement that the helicopters ‘must have undergone a SLEP which has been successful and has a verifiable history, with complete documentation from an authorized repair facility,’” the source pointed out.

The Times also obtained a copy of the TOR.

Records showed that each aircraft cost around P54 million, as indicated in various “request[s] for payment” addressed to Susan Mariano, International Trade Department head of the Land Bank of the Philippines. The requests were made by Col. Glenn Cruz of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Quarter Master Service.

RASI and its Canadian partner Eagle Copters Ltd were awarded the P1.2-billion contract in December 2013. RASI participated in the three biddings required by the GPPB. In the end, it won the contract.

“RASI is the only one that can comply with this requirement because UH 1D was the only one that underwent this program because of its old age. This program is not necessary. Other models operate perfectly without SLEP. SLEP is [required] merely to avoid corrosion. This corrosion problem should not be a problem because our PAF [Philippine Air Force] has credible maintenance facility and personnel,” The Times source explained.

In his letter to Gazmin, the DBM chief repeatedly referred to the 21 refurbished choppers as “UH-1H” or Hueys, far from actual deliveries of the older and “obsolete” UH-1D model.

In the same letter with accompanying resolution by the GPPB, it was stated that some of the helicopters should be “mission-capable”.

All eight aircraft (not nine as previously reported) that have been delivered to the PAF hangar had “compatibility” and safety issues.

The UH-1D is older than the UH-1H. The UN-1D’s manufacturer, Dornier, has long folded up and no spare parts are being manufactured specifically for the UH-1D.

In the absence of spare parts, the supplier allegedly fitted Bell spare parts which were specifically designed for the UH-1H, thus there is always an issue of safety, The Times source said.

In an undated letter signed by Robert A. Rice, president of RASI, to Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions and Materiel Fernando Manalo, chairman of the Special Bids and Awards Committee 1 and of the Negotiating Committee, the supplier admitted that the parts required by the DND in the TOR are already “obsolete and out of date.”

Rice said “RASI has made the necessary additions to incorporate all eligible and OEM approved part numbers. These additions are the equivalent, if not superior, to the part numbers that were previously listed in the TOR.”

“RASI’s objective is to deliver 21 UH-1 helicopters with the ‘latest and greatest’ components that will prove to be beneficial to the Philippine Air Force,” his letter to Manalo read.

The source, who was privy to the questionable chopper deal, said the joint venture of RASI and Eagle Copters Ltd defrauded the government by submitting the Statement of Compliance during the negotiation, stating that they will comply with all requirements for the procurement of the 21 refurbished UH-1H.

“This act deprived the government the opportunity to negotiate the project with a qualified supplier who can deliver superior quality of Bell UH-1H instead of UH-1D… The Joint Venture companies also deprived the PAF the chance to acquire better helicopters that are necessary to carry on with its missions and enhanced its capability as part of the AFP Modernization Program,” the source added.

In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said they have inquired with the DND about the chopper “fiasco” and was promised that the department is “keenly looking” at it, quoting DND Public Information Office chief, Peter Paul Galvez.

But The Manila Times source maintained that the DND should stop the ongoing acceptance of three of the aircraft “before it’s too late and [before the supplier gets] paid.”

Senate probe

The P1.2-billion helicopter deal should be investigated by the Senate, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said.

Estrada, a member of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, was referring to the report published by The Times on Monday about the defective helicopters.

“This [deal] means that we spent P1.2 billion for choppers that can’t be used because the model is already obsolete,” Ejercito said in an interview.

If there were “errors” in the P1.2-billion contract, the defense department is mandated to terminate the contract, a department official said also on Monday.

“Well, the supplier must comply with what is mandated by the contract, we are also mandated to terminate the contract if we found there are [errors]. We are doing what we are supposed to do to see to it that no delivery is accepted unless it complies with what is stated,” Defense Undersecretary Manalo said in a news briefing.

While pointing out that DND officials did not violate any regulation in the procurement law in the acquisition of the helicopters, Manalo added, “If there is an agency that will run after us, then I will accept my fate.”

He said the procurement of 21 helicopters is in the implementation stage and 21 helicopters have been delivered.

But Manalo also explained that delivery is different from acceptance.

“The helicopters were delivered and since [they are of the] knockdown [kind], it’s part of the contract [that we make] the supplier assemble the helicopters and that is not [acceptance]. The interpretation is if [they are] not accepted [they cannot be paid for] as if [they have not been] delivered,” he said.

In the same briefing, Defense Assistance Secretary for Acquisitions Installations and Logistics Patrick Velez also admitted that the contract was not for UH-1D, but for UH-1 and officials deliberately did this to entice more bidders.

Manalo said payment for the helicopters will only be made upon delivery and acceptance of the aircraft.

He added that based on his personal assessment, the supplier must be able to deliver everything not later than April 15, 2015.

“Otherwise, we have reasons to terminate the contract, in addition to that, the supplier must pay maximum liquidated damage amounting to P120 million. The aircraft must be delivered and accepted and they still have to pay liquidated damage,” Manalo said.

Liquidated damage, he also explained, is the damage paid by the supplier for delayed delivery.

Return Malampaya funds, military told

From the Business World (Mar 9): Return Malampaya funds, military told

THE PHILIPPINES’ audit body has told the country’s armed forces to return the money it got from the Malampaya funds, saying the allocation “may not be valid.”
Funds from Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power project -- which represent royalties paid to the government -- can only be used to bankroll energy projects, the Commission on Audit (CoA) said in a report.
As a result, the commission recommended that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “remit the funds sourced from Malampaya to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to enable the latter to revert the same to the Malampaya Funds.”

Notice of cash allowances from the Malampaya funds amounting to P61.19 million was transferred from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund (AFPMATF) Cash -- National Treasury to the AFPMATF Combo Account to cover the implementation of six Philippine Navy projects in 2013, according to the CoA report.
Funds were transferred despite a November 2013 Supreme Court decision that declared the use of Malampaya funds unconstitutional for purposes other than to finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects.

According to the report, the AFP commented that the Defense secretary had sent a position paper dated March 7, 2014 to the President regarding the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on the use of the Malampaya funds. The paper “presented the argumentation that the modernization projects should be considered as part of the Security Projects for Malampaya Energy Exploration and Development.”

Cash deposits from the Malampaya funds that were transferred in December 2013 remains “unutilized while waiting for the results of the Position Paper of the Department of National Defense being forwarded to the President,” the AFP said.
Coordination has already been under way between the AFP Resource Management Office and the Defense Acquisition Office “regarding deposits of the amount to the BTr to enable subsequent reversion to the Malampaya funds,” the AFP said.

8th FAB leads beach clean-up

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Mar 9): 8th FAB leads beach clean-up

ARMED with brooms and other cleaning tools, the Philippine Army's 8th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) spearheaded a clean-up drive geared toward keeping the Fuego-Fuego Beach spick and span for picnickers.

The Fuego-Fuego Beach, located in the village of Tabiawan, Isabela City, is among the favorite picnic grounds in Basilan province.

Captain Christian Agonos said Monday that Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Cabansay, the commanding officer of the 8th FAB, spearheaded the clean-up drive, which was held Sunday.

The 8th FAB, which is under the Army Artillery Regiment, is based in the village of Busay, Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

"The purpose of the activity is to preserve and maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the Fuego-Fuego Beach and to show and set example to the constituents in the area on how to properly care and maintain the cleanliness of our surroundings," Cabansay said.

Agonos said that personnel of Basilan Provincial Police Office, 54th Special Action Force (SAF), Land Bank of the Philippines-Isabela City Branch, Tabiawan village officials and Isabela City Elementary Pilot School teachers joined the 8th FAB troops in the clean-up drive.

Agonos said the clean-up culminated with a "boodle fight" meal among those who joined the clean-up drive.

Boodle fight is a military style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of the banana leaves. Viands and rice ready to eat using bare hands while jugs of water are prepared on the side to wash hands before the "eating combat."

With the signal to start the boodle fight, everyone aims for his and her position.

NPA leader apologizes to Davao City Mayor Duterte after rebels ambush cops

From InterAksyon (Mar 10): NPA leader apologizes to Davao City Mayor Duterte after rebels ambush cops

The New People's Army (NPA) apologized to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for the ambush incident that wounded two police officers and one civilian from Marilog Police Station on Sunday morning in Sitio New Calinan, Barangay Baganihan, Marilog District, Davao City.

The incident, the first to happen in Davao City the past years, disappointed the mayor because the NPAs breached a "gentlemen's agreement" that police must not be targets of their operations because the PNP perform different functions such as responding for assistance on theft and robbery, homicide and other crime situations.

Duterte, who convened a command conference on Sunday night, called up Kumander Bob to ask why it happened when they have a standing agreement not to hit the police of the city. Kumander Bob is a political officer of one of the NPA fronts operating in the region.

"We have an agreement, that is why the police are (safe) in going and out of the hinterlands," Duterte stressed. The mayor said the police do not go to the hinterlands to fight unlike the army.

Duterte put on loud speaker his call to Kumander Bob for the police and army to hear the conversation. Kumander Bob apologized to the mayor and recognized the mistake.

Kumander Bob explained to the mayor that one of the rebels, who fell asleep, accidentally released the detonator when he was awakened by noises when the police passed by.

The incident wounded SPO2 Rodger Sevillano and PO1 Marlon Coprada. The civilian was identified as Noel Ajao. All victims were brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC). The police team was on their way to respond to a traffic incident.

Kumander Bob assured the mayor it will be corrected so that no similar incident will happen again.

Duterte said it is up to the NPA to handle their men. “Ila na ang (It is their) internal discipline,” he said.

Duterte pointed out that it was enough for him that the NPA admitted lapses. “At least it was an admirable thing that they accepted responsibility. That itself is fine with me,” he said.

In a police report, the same NPA group was responsible for the burning of two delivery trucks at the vicinity of Sitio Kipulot in Barangay Palakapao, Quezon, Bukidnon.

It was also learned the NPAs lobbed a hand grenade into the police officers. Sketchy reports said improvised bombs were also planted along the Marilog Highway.

Police suspected it is the same group that ambushed police authorities in Bukidnon while on the way to respond to the burning of the delivery truck.

The army troops from the 84th Infantry Battalion pursuing the armed group.

Meanwhile, Duterte already visited the wounded police officers and offered to pay their hospital bills and other medical expenses.

MILF: Cardinal Quevedo grieves for Filipinos who perished in Mamasapano, calls for peace

Posted to the MILF Website (Mar 10): Cardinal Quevedo grieves for Filipinos who perished in Mamasapano, calls for peace

Cardinal Quevedo grieves for Filipinos who perished in Mamasapano, calls for peace

While grieving for the Fallen 44 members of the PNP- Special Action Force, 18 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and 5 civilians who perished in the Mamasapano incident last January 25, Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I., in an open letter dated March 8, called for peace and urged Christians for rationality rather than emotionalism, justice not selective, openness and fairness rather than bias and prejudice.

“For in the wake of Mamasapano our age-old Christian biases and prejudices against Moros have quickly and most sadly resurrected. Biases and prejudices have colored and clouded our judgment”, Cardinal Quevedo said in his letter.

“We hear ourselves say, we cannot trust the Moros. We cannot trust the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). We cannot trust them to lay down their arms, we cannot trust them with the money they need for development, we cannot trust them to go after terrorists once they have their own government, we cannot trust them to practice democracy we cannot trust them to govern well. We simply cannot trust them.

The bottomline of the Mamasapano tragedy is mistrust—on both sides of the conflict.

It is sheer human tragedy that such sentiments come from the dark side of our hearts. And as a Christian religious leader, I grieve also for this eclipse of the Christian heart. From an anguished heart I ask the Lord to forgive us”, he further said.

In the same letter, he enumerated the biases and prejudices that brought Christians to convictions and conclusions that are totally wrong:

•We lump all Moro armed groups together (MILF, MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), Abu Sayaff group, private armed groups) as lawless groups that advocate secession and independence ;

•We believe that the MILF claims the whole of Mindanao;

•We conclude that the Bangsamoro government will have agencies that will be totally independent of their national counterparts;

•We assert that the MILF will become the police force of the Bangsamoro;

•We dismiss as sham the conversion of MILF from a secessionist movement into a principled partner for peace. We persist in calling them “secessionists.”

•We threaten to do away with provisions that protect a proposed fledgling Bangsamoro government from the negativities of warlordism and clan domination. Yet it is so easy to ask our own peace negotiators why it is necessary for the Bangsamoro to be “MILF-led” in the short term.

•We mistrust the MILF’s determination to govern well and thus to reverse Bangsamoro political history.

On the contrary, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the following are at the heart and soul of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL):

•Bangsamoro self-determination will be exercised within a limited territory under the sovereignty of the Philippines. National sovereignty and territorial integrity will be preserved;

•The over-all principle that governs the BBL is the Catholic moral and social principle of subsidiarity, a principle already enshrined in our own Constitution. The principle requires the intervention of the national government and its various entities when the common good of all requires it. Therefore, no entity of the Bangsamoro government, such as a Bangsamoro auditing department or police force, is absolutely independent of their national counterparts.

“Self-determination has been the cry of the Bangsamoro for centuries. They struggled to preserve it against the Spaniards and the Americans. They insisted on it in the face of our government’s efforts to neutralize and domesticate it by democratic processes and the lure of economic development”, Cardinal Quevedo said.

“Rightfully, we are outraged by the manner by which our valiant SAF forces were killed. But in the past 100 years the Bangsamoro have seen hundreds of their own people, including women and children, massacred in mountains and mosques. And we did not open our eyes and ears to see and hear their plaintive cries for justice.

The lesson of history is not one we can sweep under the rug – the fundamental aspiration of a “nation” for self-determination does not die. It will seem to fade away with the passing of old leaders but if unrealized the drive for self-determination will rise with the radicalization of younger generations”.

Cardinal Quevedo refutes those that call the MILF as terrorist saying that the terrorists broke away from the MILF. The MILF only aspires and struggles politically for a place under the sun in freedom and dignity. The BBL was negotiated painstakingly with stops and detours for at least five years. It is not an agreement that was hurriedly done. It fulfills the Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination. It preserves our fundamental principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the unconstitutionality of some provisions of BBL as claimed by critics iof the proposed law, Cardinal Quevedo said that let there be consensus among constitutional luminaries on what is constitutional and what is not constitutional among the provisions of the BBL. Let us make sure that we do not “improve and strengthen” the BBL such that the idea of self-determination that is imbedded in various provisions of the BBL becomes once more an illusion, a desire begging despairingly to be realized.

“I am for peace, the peace that God grants to people of good will. I am for the peace that God gives through the collaborative work of men and women who work conscientiously for the good of the whole country. By focusing on the good of a Bangsamoro minority in the “peripheries” who have suffered social injustices for centuries, they are working for the common good of all Filipinos. They are healing historic wounds that have caused great suffering to all Filipinos”, the cardinal said.

“And so must I grieve for our courageous SAF troops who have lost their lives. I must also grieve for all the other Filipinos who perished in Mamasapano. I grieve and pray for the families they left behind, their inconsolable widows and children, for their uncertain future. For their sake I seek justice and accountability”, the influential cardinal said.

He ended his letter by saying, “It is the Spirit of God that gives hope and infuses love and harmony among peoples of different faiths and cultures. With God’s Spirit we can soar over tragedies, we can restore trust for one another, we can strive together for harmony and peace. Ultimately it is in the enlightened heart where love and peace begin”.

MILF: GPH Peace panel chair clarifies two misconceptions in BBL provisions

Posted to the MILF Website (Mar 10): GPH Peace panel chair clarifies two misconceptions in BBL provisions

GPH Peace panel chair clarifies two misconceptions in BBL provisions

Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Chief negotiator of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) clarified on Thursday, March 5 two misconceptions in the provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that she described as “top two trending lies.

Those lies, she said, were that the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region would have its own police force and army, and that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would receive a P75-billion fund under the BBL.

Prof. Ferrer said that under Article XI Section 2 of the draft BBL, a Bangsamoro police force would be established for “law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro.

It is clear in the provision that the Bangsamoro police “will be part of the Philippine National Police,” she said.

She also cited Article XIV Section 2 of the proposed BBL which states that the central government would provide for a special development fund to the Bangsamoro “for rehabilitation and development purposes upon ratification” of the draft law, Ferrer said.

The special development fund amounts to P7 billion for the first year following ratification of the BBL, she said.

In the second year, she said, the fund will amount to P10 billion, “to be paid out to the Bangsamoro government over five years at the rate of P2 billion per year.”

Under the draft law, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), will also receive P1 billion “to carry out the requirements of transition” from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the Bangsamoro autonomous region.

The central government will also provide an annual block grant to the Bangsamoro, its share in the national internal revenue of the government.

 “What is going on now, what are being emphasized, are the supposed bad things of the BBL without the bigger picture of what’s good about it. This is my lament to the mass media, they only discuss the demerits without emphasizing the merits,” Ferrer said.

“The discussions are inaccurate or total falsehood, but the text of the BBL is clear.”

Senen Bacani, a member of the GPGH peace panel said “the misinformation hurt the BBL discussions.”

“There’s really no basis for all this wrong information,” he said.

Foreign terrorist, 72 BIFF rebels killed in AFP offensive

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 10): Foreign terrorist, 72 BIFF rebels killed in AFP offensive

Government security forces have killed 72 Moro rebels and one suspected foreign terrorist in the on-going offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, the military said Monday.

Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office (PAO) chief, said the series of clashes with the BIFF have also left four soldiers dead. That includes a young officer identified as 1Lt. Rommel Auman, Executive Officer 6th Scout Ranger Company, who died in the fierce fighting with at least 100 bandits.

Cabunoc said the military also suffered 29 men wounded in action (WIA).

“The AFP has dealt a big blow on the BIFF in the series of law enforcement operations that it carried out in North Cotabato and Maguindanao,” said Cabunoc during a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo.

He said that as of 8 a.m. Monday, the military has logged 73 fatalities, 33 wounded, and four captured on the side of the BIFF.

Of the 73 fatalities on the enemy side, Cabunoc described one as “foreign-looking” who is believed to be among the five international terrorists being coddled by the group of Mohammad Ali Tambako, a former BIFF commander. Tambako had recently formed a new armed group, the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM).

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said in a television interview that one of the recovered bodies bear similarities to one of the United States’ most wanted Islamic militants. But he refused to name the suspect.

Cabunoc, on the other hand, also said that another slain BIFF gunman who was reported to be wearing a SAF shirt was a cousin of BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato. The suspect is believed to be getting instructions from Kato based on the messages in his mobile phone which was recovered by the soldiers.

The current law enforcement operations were triggered by the atrocities committed by the brigand group on civilian communities in North Cotabato in early February. At least 25,000 people have fled the fighting that ensued between the MILF and the BIFF in Pikit, North Cotabato.

The 6th Infantry Division has launched simultaneous calibrated law enforcement actions in different localities in Maguindanao February 25. The operations aimed to hunt down the Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman, Tambako and five Jemaah Islamiyah members.

Cabunoc said the AFP has extended the conduct of operations for another three days due to the continued presence and resistance of the BIFF bandits.

In one of the clashes during the weekend, the military said one of those killed was a suspected foreign terrorist whose body was retrieved by the Marines Battalion Landing Team 6 (MBLT6) last Sunday.

Lt. Col. Willie Manalang, commander of the MBLT, described the suspect as about 5’8 in height and fair skinned.

“He does not look Asian. He could be one of the foreign terrorists who were coddled by the BIFF,” he said.

Widow-makers or Air Force assets?

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 10): Widow-makers or Air Force assets?

This is the query of a military observer on the 21 refurbished Huey helicopters that the government is acquiring for the Philippine Air Force for a contract price of P1.263 billion. And more than a year since the contract was awarded to the joint venture of US-based Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. (RASI) and Canadian Eagle Copters, only eight refurbished UH-1D helicopters have so far been delivered.

The remaining 13 units have already been shipped to the country but are still being refurbished in Clark, a violation of the contract that stipulates that delivery of all 21 second hand UH-1 helicopters should be made within 180 days upon opening of the letter of credit (LC).

Out of the eight units, only seven have been turned over to the Air Force, of which “four are flyable but none are mission capable due to the absence of engine protective parts.”

The Department of National Defense (DND) first announced the planned acquisition of the 21 refurbished UH-1 helicopters in 2012 to boost the PAF’s combat, security and utility, transport capability.

The project was in the pipeline as early as 2011, when then PAF Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, requested President Aquino for additional UH-1H helicopters.

After three failed biddings (Dec. 4, 2012; Feb. 11, 201; and Sept. 2013) for the procurement of the refurbished Huey fleet including Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package, the DND resorted to negotiated procurement.

The negotiation was conducted on Nov. 21, 2013 with the JV of RASI and Eagle Copters as lone participant and the contract was awarded in December 2013.


The supplier started the “first shipment on April, 2014, while the last shipment arrived Feb. 2015- way beyond the deadline of the contract.”

An insider revealed that “all 21 helicopters were not refurbished at the facility of Eagle Copters in Canada, but were directly shipped from the facility of RASI in California, USA to the port of Manila then hauled to Clark.”

Instead of delivering fully refurbished helicopters, the supplier “hired additional Filipino mechanics, who are all retired PAF personnel, to repair/refurbish and assemble the helicopters”.

“That’s in violation of the terms of reference requiring refurbishment at the qualified facility, supposedly at the facility of Eagle Copters, Ltd.,” the Manila Bulletin source said.

The insider also pointed out that the Filipino mechanics hired by the supplier provided repairs/maintenance on UH-1H when they were still in active service. Thus, “they are not on the maintenance of UH-1D helicopters,” he stressed.

Documents obtained by the Manila Bulletin show that by the end of the contract (Sept. 21, 2014), only two units of UH-1D were inspected and accepted by the PAF. Formal turnover, however, was made months later.

For failure to deliver all 21 refurbished Huey helicopters within 180 days, RASI had to pay liquidated damages to the government starting September 22, 2014 onwards.  The failure is reportedly due to lack of available parts like engines and armor seats, among others.


On June 2014, the DND presented to media four Huey helicopters in Clark on June 2014 which at that time were not yet turned over to the PAF and not even operational, a Manila Bulletin source revealed.

Before Christmas of 2014, additional four units of second hand UH-1D helicopters were accepted and paid by the DND, net of liquidated damages.

Liquidated damages is a penalty to be deducted from payment. The amount shall be at least equal to one-tenth of one percent of the cost of the unperformed portion for every day of delay. Once the cumulative amount of the liquidated damages reaches ten percent of the amount of the contract, the procuring entity shall rescind the contract, without prejudice to other courses of action and remedies to open it.

Another UH-1D unit was delivered on Dec. 26, 2014 although formal turnover was made only last month, Feb. 12.

The 8th helicopter arrived middle of February but has not been turned over to the Air Force as of this writing.

Of the eight delivered UH-1D helicopters, the source said only six have been paid so far. “Ubos na kasi ang allowed LD (liquidated damages),” he said.

“For the record, there was no ILS package, in whole or in part, delivered during the prescribed period,” according to the source.

The ILS package is a list of spare parts worth P60 million which was supposed to be delivered within 180 days. The deadline of delivery was supposed to be on or before September 21, 2014.

Abu Sayyaf member in 2000 Basilan mass kidnapping falls

From the Philippine Star (Mar 9): Abu Sayyaf member in 2000 Basilan mass kidnapping falls
A suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group tagged in the mass abduction of teachers and students 15 years ago was arrested Saturday in Isabela City, Basilan.

The suspect identified as Abdillah Asalin, alias Abs, was arrested at the Castillo Videoke Bar along Valderoza street in Barangay La Piedad.

The suspect was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Danilo Bucoy as amended by State Prosecutor Nestor Lazaro of National Capital Judicial Region branch 261 in Pasig City.

Joint police and military operatives cornered Asalin at the videoke bar at around 2:20 p.m.

Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office 9 said Asalin is one of the Abu Sayyaf Group members involved in the March 2000 mass abduction of teachers and students at the Tumahubong Claret School.

Among those seized was Father Rhoel Gallardo, who was later killed by the bandits along with three male teachers.

Abu demands P10 M for teachers’ release

From the Philippine Star (Mar 10): Abu demands P10 M for teachers’ release

Abu Sayyaf bandits holding two public school teachers captive are demanding P10 million in ransom for the hostages, authorities said yesterday.

Reynadit Silvano, 34, and Russel Bagonoc, 22, were seized last Thursday by six members of the Abu Sayyaf urban terror group as they were on their way to school in Talusan town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Police confirmed that the kidnappers have contacted the victims’ families, said Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, city police director.

Police said Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Wilter Palma has been informed about the development and the P10-million ransom demand.

The families of the teachers appealed to the kidnappers to release the victims, saying they are poor.

Meanwhile, an alleged Abu Sayyaf bandit tagged in the kidnapping of teachers and students in 2000 was arrested in Isabela City, Basilan Sunday.

Abdillah Asalin, alias Abs, was collared by members of the government security forces at a videoke bar on Valderoza street in Barangay La Piedad.

Asalin’s arrest came as police and the military stepped up security in the city for the celebration of the provincial government’s 41st anniversary.

The suspect was said to be among Abu Sayyaf bandits who kidnapped the teachers and students of Tumahubong Claret School in March 2000.

The incident also resulted in the killing of Fr. Rhoel Gallardo and three other teachers.

Militant found dead in Batangas

From the Philippine Star (Mar 10): Militant found dead in Batangas

BATANGAS, Philippines  – A 62-year-old leader of a militant group was found dead in Batangas City Sunday, police reported yesterday.

Florencio Romano, believed to be summarily executed, was found along the road in Barangay Soro-Soro at around 6:05 a.m., said Senior Superintendent Omega Jireh Fidel, Batangas police director.

Romano was the organizer of the Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (Olalia) of the Kilusang Mayo Uno.

His body bore several gunshot wounds and was identified by the group.

Hermie Marasigan, chairman of Olalia, expressed belief Romano’s death could be job-related. The group condemned the killing.

China reclamation projects alarm PH

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Mar 10): China reclamation projects alarm PH

China's reclamation projects in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea have raised concern at the Department of National Defense (DND).

In an interview, DND spokesman Peter Galvez said China’s reclamation activities could stoke untoward incidents in the already tense area.

“They (China’s reclamation projects) will continue to cause the occurrence of miscalculation or accidents,” he said. “It (possibility of miscalculations happening) becomes higher because of their insistence and their continuous aggressive stance in the region. This is a very serious concern.”

Galvez called on China to stop construction activities in disputed areas as they violate the 2002 Declaration of the Code of Conduct (DOC) that calls on claimants to refrain from any activity that could stir tension or complicate the territorial row.

“The issue of reclamation is about respect for the DOC,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi justified the reclamation in disputed territories as “necessary projects.”

“We are not like some countries which have carried out ‘illegal building’ in other people’s home, and we won’t accept unwarranted remarks about work on our own home,” he said.

Wang said the projects are not directed against anyone as China does not seek to disrupt international order.

“Today we are in this boat, together with more than 190 other countries,” he said. “So of course we don’t want to upset the boat, rather we want to work with other passengers to make sure this boat will sail forward steadily and in the right direction.”

China has been building structures in disputed areas to assert its territorial claim spanning virtually the entire West Philippine Sea.

Satellite images from defense intelligence provider IHS Jane showed that China is achieving significant progress in its construction projects in Kennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson South) and Burgos (Gaven) reefs, which the Philippines considers as parts of its territory.

DND: No irregularities in purchase of Hueys

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Mar 10): DND: No irregularities in purchase of Hueys

The Department of National Defense maintained yesterday that there are no anomalies in the purchase of 21 UH-1 helicopters worth P1.2 billion.

In a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said they did not violate any regulation in the procurement law in acquiring the helicopters.

“We would never enter into deals that are disadvantageous to the government and not compliant with the terms of reference,” Manalo said.

In December, the joint venture of American firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Canadian company Eagle Copters Ltd. was declared the winning bidder for the purchase of the helicopters.

Defense officials, however, have been accused of violating the terms of agreement and allowing the supplier to deliver old and defective units.

A military official, who asked not to be identified, was quoted in a newspaper report as saying the supplier had delivered old UH-1D helicopters instead of the more advanced UH-1H model.

Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez, however, explained that the contract stated that the winning bidder should deliver UH-1 helicopters, the generic term for helicopters.

“To correct misimpression, the contract is not for UH-1D but UH-1,” Velez said.

“The reason why the bid documents stated UH-1 is it was intentionally made to ensure greater participation from bidders from different suppliers,” he added.

But the report also claimed that the helicopters delivered were not working due to engine problems.

BIFF founder's cousin believed killed in Maguindanao town – AFP

From GMA News (Mar 9): BIFF founder's cousin believed killed in Maguindanao town – AFP

The cousin of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) founder Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato is believed to have been among the rebels killed in a military operation in Maguindanao on Saturday.
In a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) information office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said that while they are still verifying the identities of four BIFF rebels killed in Barangay Pusao in Shariff Saydona town in Maguindanao, there were indications that one of them was Umbra Kato's cousin.
“Ito ay base doon sa cellphone na kanyang hawak, at dun sa mga messages na nakalagay doon, siya ay binibigyan ng instructions ng kanyang pinsan na si Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato,” Cabunoc said.
Cabunoc said the man they think is Umbra Kato's cousin was wearing a police Special Action Force (SAF) uniform. 
He said a cellphone recovered from the body is now with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Maguindanao for forensic examination.
“Wala akong detalye sa kung ano yung mga pinagusapan, may mga instructions siya [Umbra Kato] dun na ina-address niya yung kanyang pinsan,” Cabunoc said.
Meanwhile, Cabunoc also confirmed that one of the four BIFF casualties looked "like a foreigner".
“Sa itsura niya hindi siya normal na kaitsura ng mga Pilipino kaya lahat ng nakakita sa kanya ay nagduda na siya ay isang foreign national… Matangkad, fair-skinned at hindi istura ng normal na Pilipino o Asian,” Cabunoc said.
Cabunoc said the AFP is currently working with the CIDG in Maguindanao to establish the identities of the four bodies retrieved.
“Yung mga katawan nila ay nai-turnover na sa CIDG for proper disposition at nagkaroon kasi ng ugnayan with an imam for decent burial and Islamic rites,” Cabunoc said.

73 BIFF rebels killed in continuing operations
Cabunoc said 73 BIFF rebels have been killed and 33 others injured since the AFP launched operations against the rebel group after the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident where 44 SAF troopers were killed.
On the other hand, Cabunoc said four soldiers were also killed on Saturday, one of them a company commander, identified as Lt. Grommel Auman, executive officer of the 6th Scout Ranger Company.
Cabunoc said 29 soldiers have also been wounded since the offensive began.
On Sunday, the military announced that it will extend its offensive against the BIFF rebels in Maguindanao for another three days.
“Kung kailangan mag-extend, base sa developments sa ground, ay ieextend ulit natin ito ng another three days, at nais kong liwanagin na ito ay alinsunod din sa ceasefire mechanisms,” Cabunoc said.

Opposing camps may discuss settlement in Pemberton murder case pretrial

From GMA News (Mar 10): Opposing camps may discuss settlement in Pemberton murder case pretrial

A plea bargaining agreement between US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton and the family of slain Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude" may be discussed at the continuation of the pretrial for the murder case on Tuesday morning.
According to a report on GMA News TV's News To Go, a convoy where Pemberton was believed to be in arrived at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court past 7 a.m., and immediately headed to Branch 74, where the case is being heard.
Laude's family was also in attendance, including the victim's mother, Julita, the report said.
The report, however, said that Pemberton's side has not made a formal offer for a plea bargain, while the family earlier said it will not settle with the US serviceman.
A plea bargain "usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than that for a graver charge." 
The Olongapo City RTC Branch 74 entered a not guilty plea for Pemberton last February 23, after the serviceman refused to enter any plea during the arraignment. 
At the beginning of the pretrial last February 27, the defense disclosed that it included Pemberton among the 10 witnesses it plans to present during the trial proper, which will start on March 23.

56 Islamic militants slain so far

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 10): 56 Islamic militants slain so far

GOVERNMENT troops have killed 56 Islamic militants including a “foreign-looking” one who may be among the terrorists wanted by the United States, the military said Monday.

“One of the cadavers is a foreign-looking guy,” said military spokesman Brigadier-General Joselito Kakilala, outlining the operation in a television interview on ABS-CBN.

Anti-terror campaign continues. Army soldiers and Marines unload
ammunition intended for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
from an Air Force plane in Maguindanao in a continuation of
operations against the terrorists. OMar Mangorsi

The corpse’s features bear “similarities” to one of the United States’ “most wanted” Islamic militants, he said, refusing to identify the suspect.

Four soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in the raid, Kakilala said.

The raid followed a bloody anti-terror operation in January that killed Malaysian militant Zulkifli bin Hir, one of Asia’s most wanted men, but also claimed the lives of 44 police commandos.

The BIFF and other rebels killed the commandos as the operation backfired, triggering a wave of outrage that has shaken the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

The fighting centers on the Liguasan marshlands, where Abdel Basit Usman, one of the terrorists sought by the US, survived the Jan. 25 police raid.

The military said last week that aside from Usman, it was hunting four Indonesians and one Arab who had bomb-making expertise.

In addition to the suspected militants killed in the operation, which is expected to end this week, four were arrested and some 33 wounded, Kakilala said.

“We also got their bomb factories,” he added.

The fighting has forced about 45,000 civilians to flee their homes, local officials said.
The BIFF is now believed to number fewer than 300, but their leader, Ameril Umrakato, “remains very influential” in the area, he added.

Kakilala said the hunt for Usman and the five other suspected terrorists would not even after the end of the all-out offensive.

“Our units on the ground will not give them time to rest. There is no timeline but we will make sure they will be on the run every day until such time they will be finally cornered and captured,” Kakilala said.

Kakilala said Usman and the other terrorists were being protected by the group of Mohammad Ali Tambako, nephew of BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato, who recently formed his Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) with only a handful of followers.

The military has no information on Kato’s whereabouts after he suffered a stroke that left him bedridden years ago. His exit has left a power vacuum, with Tambako and Kagi Karialan, Kato’s chief of staff, battling for control. In the end, Tambako formed his own group after he failed to kill Karialan in a bomb explosion.

“Let’s be clear... the BIFF and JIM is one and the same, the same dogs with different collars,” Kakilala said.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, identified one of the soldier-fatalities as 1st Lt. Grommel Auman, executive officer 6th Scout Ranger Company.

“We engaged the enemy in an intense firefight for about five hours. We were able to seize two of their defensive positions after grabbing one of the M60 machine guns that they used to against us,” 1st Lt. Blas Alsiao, commanding officer of the unit, said.

He said Auman was hit in the neck while leading his men during the assault on the machine gun nest.

“We were all inspired by his bravery... Seeing him bloodied and in pain, I decided to evacuate him to a safer ground so that he could be brought to a hospital,” he said.
An hour later, Auman died.

Three more soldiers from the Alpha Company of the 33rd Infantry Battalion were also killed.

Six more soldiers in Alsiao’s team were wounded.

Marines on Friday captured four BIFF rebels inside their temporary camp in the outskirts of Datu Piang, Maguindanao without firing a single shot.

A military report said the capture of the four rebels occurred after troopers of the Marine Force Recon separately assaulted two BIFF camps in barangays Dabunayan and Liab in Datu Piang at about 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Kakilala said the four BIFF rebels were manning the camp when the Marines emerged unnoticed and fought them in hand-to-hand combat.

Seized from the rebels were a cal.45 pistol and a Thompson sub-machine gun, bomb-making gadgets and four mobile phones.

Heavy fighting between the military and the BIFF resumed Friday after a brief lull.
In the intense exchange of firing, a combat helicopter pilot and 12 ground troopers were wounded.

The attack chopper was hit by enemy fire while providing close air support to ground forces during an assault on a BIFF lair.

The identities of the wounded combat pilot and the wounded troops were not immediately available.

Another arrested rebel freed

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 9): Another arrested rebel freed

Despite the string of cases filed against him, suspected New People’s Army leader Rogelio Posadas, alias Poten and Isko, managed to post bail, and is now out of jail. The alleged rebel leader reportedly posted P180,000 as bail.
Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said yesterday that Posadas was freed from jail on March 7.
Posadas, tagged by the military as the secretary of the Northern Negros Guerilla Front, was apprehended at a checkpoint on January 9 in San Carlos City, by virtue of an arrest warrant for murder.
Posadas also faces robbery-in-band and homicide charges, Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said.
The New People’s Army Roselyn Pelle Command has issued a statement claiming that Posadas is a National Democratic Front security officer, while the NDF said he is among their peace consultants.
Aside from Posadas, other alleged rebel leaders arrested in Negros Occidental, are Romeo Natan, regional commander of the NPA, Mary Grace Delicano-Sumayang, Nilda Natan Bertulano, Rogelio Danoso, and Hernando Llorente who rejoined their comrades in the mountains, after posting bail and being released from detention, the military said.
They had been charged for murder, robbery-in-band, frustrated murder, attempted murder and arson, among others, that the militant organizations dismissed as “trumped up charges”.

FULL TRANSCRIPT | PNoy's latest statement on Mamasapano: Maliwanag na binola ako ni Napenas

From InterAksyon (Mar 9): FULL TRANSCRIPT | PNoy's latest statement on Mamasapano: Maliwanag na binola ako ni Napenas

Malacanang Palace officials on Monday sought to ease fears in some quarters that the Board of Inquiry report on the Mamasapano incident will be tailored to suit the narrative of the President.

That fear was further fueled by an announcement Monday that the Board sought yet another extension for submitting its report, as the panel gathering the documents and evidence had just finished turning in its work last March 6 and the Board members needed time to comb through them.

But a less-than-credible report, stressed the Palace, will benefit no one.

Still, even as the public awaited anxiously the official findings on what happened with the anti-terrorist mission that neutralized a Malaysian terrorist but killed 44 police commandos, the President on Monday provided a long, detailed account of what really went down there, in that marshy field in Barangay Tukanalipao, on Jan. 25.

In a long, rambling narrative provided in reply to a question on the sidelines of a prayer breakfast with a coalition of Christian leaders, President Benigno Aquino III insisted anew he was fed lies about details of the operation.

He blamed the sacked SAF director Getulio Napenas for much of the planning gaps, and for countermanding his order to coordinate early enough with the military, which had the mechanized muscle to provide cover to the SAF raiders. But he was silent on why he did not blame the then-suspended PNP chief, Alan Purisima, for telling Napenas to inform the AFP chief of staff and the DILG secretary only when the SAF men are on the ground. As for why he dealt with a suspended PNP chief on such a sensitive mission, the President offered this explanation: he had been using Purisima right from the start to deal with Napenas.

Sounding like he was very much in the thick of the planning details, the President said he would not have allowed the SAF to go on a suicide mission where preventable casualties are caused by wrong planning or miscoordination.

The President has not been invited to give his narrative before the BOI or the Senate panel on the Mamasapano. But here below, in the transcript of his Monday "Q and A" with the Christian leaders, Mr. Aquino gives his own account:

Host: Maraming, maraming salamat po, Mr. President, for that inspiring, hope-giving message. Kaya po patuloy kayo pong makakaasa ng aming dalangin para sa inyo. Now we go to our presidential question-and-answer hour. Mayroon po tayong mga selected leaders na sila po ang magtatanong ng mga tanong na may kaugnayan po sa mga nangyayari sa ating minamahal na bansa, and we are very, very glad that the President is very much willing to answer these for us, and to clarify matters for us. Ang una pong magtatanong, Mr. President, ay si Pastor Ed de Guzman.

Pastor Ed de Guzman: Mr. President, maraming pong mga opinyon ang iba’t ibang tao tungkol sa Mamasapano incident. Maaari po bang malaman mula sa aming Pangulo mismo kung ano po ang mga tunay na kaganapan dito?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung sa Mamasapano ho, alam naman po ninyo, ang objective natin dito mayroong tinutugis na dalawang kilabot na terorista. ‘Yung isa ang ngalan ay ‘Marwan,’ ‘yung isa naman ay isa Basit Usman. Si Marwan ay Malaysian at si Basit Usman naman po ay Pilipino.

Ngayon, mayroon hong outstanding warrants, and tanda ko po—kunwari si Marwan—2002 pa ho tinutugis na. So miyembro ho raw si Marwan ng grupong tinatawag na Jemaah Islamiyah at miyembro ng central committee nila—mataas hong opisyal doon sa grupong ito—affiliated, allegedly, with al-Qaeda. Sila po ang inakusahan na nasa (likod ng) pambobomba sa Bali, Indonesia kung saan—kung tama ho ang tanda ko—lampas 200 katao ang namatay. Doon sa pambobombang ‘yon talagang gustong maghasik ng terorismo na nagpaputok ng isang bomba, hinintay magdatingan ‘yung first responders at saka, ‘yung sa ating kataga, ‘yung ‘usisero;’ ‘nung marami nang nagkumpol-kumpol doon, pinaputok ‘yung pangalawang bomba kaya ang dami hong namatay.

So mula 2002 hanggang itong taon nga hong 2015 ay talagang nagkakalat (siya) ng kanyang kaalaman sa paggagawa ng bomba sa iba’t ibang mga grupo na gustong magpatuloy ng karahasan. So marami pong operations na nangyari na bago pa noong panahon ko para madala itong si Marwan, si Usman, at iba pang mga terorista sa ating mga korte. Ito hong huling plano ay tinawag na ‘Oplan Exodus.’ Napakarami na hong mga planong hinain. ‘Yung sa panahon ko, mayroon akong naalala noong 2012, may mga operations noong 2013, at mayroong mga operations din noong 2014. Kung minsan po AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ang nangunguna sa operations—sila ang may tinatawag na actionable intelligence—mayroon naman po kung minsan ang PNP (Philippine National Police).

So dito po sa plano, dapat papasok ang—‘yung tinatawag nilang seaborne na SAF (Special Action Force)—sila po… Well, ‘yung explanation sa akin ‘nung umpisa, 160 na seaborne SAF ang mag-a-undertake ng mission na kung saan susuportahan—sa aking utos—sila ng AFP, lalo na doon sa pagpasok stealthily, paglabas. Mayroon ho kasing kalaban na tinatayang mula tatlo hanggang apat na libo (3,000 to 4,000)—parang potential na kalaban. Nandiyan po ‘yung grupo ng BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters); nandiyan po ‘yung MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front); nandiyan po ‘yung private armed groups na diumano ng Ampatuan. 2013 po nag-service ng warrant para sa isang suspect sa Maguindanao massacre, at ‘nung sinerve (serve) po ito, lumaban; napatay po ‘yon, nahuli ‘yung kanyang mga kasamahan; paglabas po kasama ng mga naaresto, nangyari po ‘yung tinatawag sa practice sa Mindanao, ‘yung tinatawag nilang ‘pintakasi.’ ‘Yung nagsama-sama ang kung anu-anong puwersa, kadalasan Muslim, at ‘pag maliit ‘yung puwersa ng estado ay—sa Tagalog po—‘kinukuyog.’ E (sa) pagkakataong ‘yon maganda ho ang coordination. Tatawagan ‘yung mechanized brigade, pasok ‘yung mechanized brigade, nailigtas po ‘yung ating mga miyembro ng PNP regional office sa ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao).

So dumating po itong operation. Mayroon po tayong ‘nung mga, unang-una, actionable intelligence. Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ‘non? Itong si Marwan, si Usman, pinpointed ang tinitirhan. Hindi ho nakita dito, nakita diyan. Normally, ‘pag sinabing ‘sighting,’ may isa tayo o dalawang ahente ng intelligence na wala hong magagawa kung nag-iisa o dalawa. Pero ngayon po, medyo ilang buwan na silang pumirmi, tumigil at nagcu-cultivate po ng maayos na pagkilos dito sa lugar nga ho sa Mamasapano. So gumawa ho ng plano, prinisenta sa atin ‘yung pinakahuling version ‘nung January. Prinisenta po sa atin ‘yung buong plano sa pamamagitan ng isang Power Point presentation na kung titingnan po natin ay nakapa-thorough ‘nung planning. Ultimo po ‘yung ano bang phase ‘nung buwan, ‘yung gaano kalakas ba ang illumination ng buwan, naka-plot po doon sa kanilang mga dates. Bakit namin pinili itong petsang ito? Ipaliwanag ko lang po nang konti, pasensya na ho kayo medyo mahaba ‘yung details, ano.

‘Yung night vision ho, device, siyempre ‘pag walang buwan o mahina ‘yung buwan—palubog ‘yung buwan—maximum ‘yung effect niya dahil ‘yung kalaban natin na walang night vision siyempre madilim ang ino-operate. So ang lamang po ng ating puwersa, mayroong night vision device, pipili ng araw kung saan mahina ‘yung illumination ng buwan o may cloud cover na dagdag para ma-maximize ‘yung advantage nila. So pupuntahan ‘yung target, papasukan, nag-jump off ng 10:00 ng gabi—‘yon pong detalye nalaman ko na after—pero gabi, papasok doon, madaling araw—mga ala-una, alas-dos—matatapos ‘yung misyon, tapos lalabas. ‘Nung prinesent (present) na po ‘yung plano, siyempre, hindi ho lahat ng detalye hiningi ko. ‘Yun bang, ‘ano ba ‘yung actual na rutang tatahakin? Ilan ba ang tatahak sa rutang ito?’ Mayroon pong tinatawag sa gobyernong ‘presumption of regularity.’ ‘Yung taong kausap ko hong expert, dapat hindi ko na siya turuan ng… Kunwari ho, college level na, hindi ko na tatanungin ng ‘paki-recite mo nga ‘yung A, B, C, D,’ ‘di ba? So parang sa presentation mukhang pinag-isipan lahat, ang hindi ko lang ho—o hindi ako masaya doon sa plano, sabi ko, 160 ‘yung gagamitin mo diyan at 3,000 to 4,000 ‘yung potential na baka maging kalaban, baka naman mapintakasi tayo o siguradong mapipintakasi tayo at mabibilad ‘yung mga tao mo.

So sinabi ko sa kanya kailangan makipag-coordinate ka sa AFP. ‘Yung AFP po kasi—kausap ko dito si Director (Getulio) Napeñas—‘yung AFP ho ang may kanyon, may armored vehicles, may eroplano. ‘Pag sinabi hong coordinate… Sabi niya sa akin, ‘sir, magko-coordinate kami sa jump-off’—kumbaga, pagkilos. Sabi ko hindi pwede ‘yung pagkilos dahil patungo ka na doon sa objective. Kailangan i-posisyon ‘yung kanyon; kailangan i-posisyon ‘yung tangke; kailangan i-posisyon ‘yung eroplano; kailangan i-posisyon ‘yung tao; kailangan i-posisyon ‘yung gasolina at saka ‘yung bala ng kanyon, ‘yung bomba ‘nung eroplano, et cetera. Hindi mo naman magagawa ‘yan in 30 minutes or less. Sabi nila, ‘sir, ‘yung operation on security.’ Kausapin niyo ‘yung pinakamataas na kailangang kausapin na pwede niyang utusan lahat itong subordinate units na pumunta sa kani-kanilang mga puwesto para reding (ready) umalalay.

Ngayon ho, ‘yung sagot niya sa akin ‘nung una, ‘jump-off;’ hindi ako pumayag. In-insist ko several days before, pinakamataas, dahil nabilinan ko rin po beforehand doon sa ibang operation—Chief of Staff ng AFP at saka Director General ng PNP—mag-coordinate kayo para hindi kontrahan ‘yung mga ginagawa ninyo, para matugis itong dalawang ito. So sinagot po niya sa akin: ‘Yes, sir.’ Dumating ‘yung araw, January 25, ‘di po ba—baka itatanong niyo kung bakit tandang-tanda ko ‘yung petsa? Birthday po kasi ng nanay ko ‘yon e, at tumungo kami sa Zamboanga dahil doon sa pambobomba na nangyari na kung saan lampas 50 katao ang nasugatan, may dalawang patay. Una kong natanggap na text, nandito pa ho sa telepono ko, parang pinadala ng 5:45—aminin ko nakapatay ‘yung telepono ko, 7:00 more or less ‘nung pagbangon (ko) binuksan, sinagot ko siya ng about 7:30 or so—at sinabi sa akin doon sa text ni Director General (Alan) Purisima… Sa kanya ko ho dinadaan kasi parati mula nung umpisa ‘yung mga mensahe ng director ng SAF. Hindi ko ho kausap ‘yung director ng SAF e, diretsuhan, mula ‘nung umpisa. So naabot si Marwan, na-neutralize, nagkaroon ng firefight at napaatras sila. Sa dulo ho sa palitan namin, tinanong ko—kasi nakalagay ho sa text niya 15 hanggang 20 katao ang lumaban dito sa puwersa natin—so ang tanong ko sa kanya: ‘160 ‘yung ipinadala ninyo, mayroong suporta ng AFP at saka PNP units pa, bakit aatras ‘yung 160 kung ang lumalaban 15 hanggang 20?’

Mayroon hong doctrine sa militar kasi, ‘pag mayroon kayong gustong i-take na objective,’ minimum ratio is three-to-one (3:1). ‘Yung aatake ho dadaan sa open ground, ‘yung nagdedepensa naman nakakubli, so mas maraming malalagasan sa nag-a-attack. When you want to take an objective, the ratio therefore of attackers to defenders is three-to-one, and when you want to take and hold their objective, it has to be eight-to-one. So 160 po ‘yung atin, 15 to 20 ‘yung sa kanila, bakit umatras ‘yung 160 natin? At parang doon po, medyo napag-isip na ako, ‘mukhang may kulang yata dito sa sinasabi.’ Tapos ang paliwanag nakihalo raw po ‘yung BIFF kaya naobliga hong umatras ang ating mga puwersa.

Ngayon ho, ‘yung… Marami hong detalye e. Ayoko naman ho kayong lunurin sa detalye, pero simpleng-simple ho, ganito ‘yung mga nakita natin sa umpisa’s umpisa: ‘Yung kung saan ho kayo nakaupo ngayon—damuhan, ‘di ho ba?—ngayon, ganyan ho ‘yung hitsura ‘nung 80 percent ng lupain dito sa area na ito. Kumbaga ho, ang idea, ‘yung seaborne lulusob; ‘yung SAF 55 ang aalalay sa kanila; babantayan ‘yung escape route. Ang problema ‘yung babantayan na lugar, ganyan, damuhan; walang punong kukublihan—kung mayroon man, mga ilang punong niyog, ilang puno ng saging, ‘yung iba maisan. ‘Yung mais ho hindi haharang ng bala; ‘yung saging hindi rin siguradong haharang ng bala. Ngayon, isipin po ninyo, 38 ang lumusob na SAF na seaborne; ang sasalo sa kanila 36 ng SAF 55. Kung ‘yung 38 umatras, ibig sabihin may humahabol na puwersang malakas, tama ho ba? Kung malakas ‘yung puwersa na hindi mahinto ng 38, siguro mas hindi matutulungan ng 36, maliban na lang ho kung mayroong tinatawag na… ‘Di ba, mayroong itinuturong sa ating ‘choose your battlefield?’ Ibig sabihin ‘non, hanap ka ng terrain, lamang ka. Mayroon kang pagkukubliang mga malalaking bato; mayroong mga punong magtatago ng puwesto mo; may oras ka na gumawa ng foxhole, ‘di ba? Tapos magugulat ‘yung humahabol. Pero ang problema nga ho, ganyan pala ‘yon. Hindi ho sinabi sa aking… ‘Yung picture na ipinakita sa akin iba-ibang—‘yung darkness ho ng green e. So parang ‘pag tinitingnan mo, ‘o dito mukhang makapal na makapal ang puno; ‘pag dito tiningnan mo—o dito mukhang cultivated land,’ so mayroong… Pipili ka ng puwesto… May in-establish ho kasi ‘nung papasok at dalawa ‘yung exit route; babantayan ‘yung exit route na lamang ka sa puwesto—‘yon may posibilidad ‘yon na kaya mong harangin ‘yung mas malaking puwersa.

So ang problema nga ho nito, bakit walang foxhole? Wala hong entrenching tool pala itong SAF. Entrenching tool ho ‘yung pwedeng pala, pwedeng piko, gagawa ka ng foxhole. Wala palang terrain na pagkukublian. Tapos ang masakit pa ho, inutusan lahat itong mga susunod na aalalay doon sa seaborne, bawat platoon—tawag ho nila ‘company,’ pero actually ang dineploy (deploy) doon platoon—‘yung platoon ho mga 30 katao. Babantayan ang tatlong waypoint. ‘Yung tatlong waypoint, maghahati pa pala itong 30, tapos tatayo sa damong ganyan. Kung alam ko ho ‘yung parte ng planong ‘yon, palagay ko ho hindi na natin in-approve. Sandali lang, paano haharang ito, paano aalalay kung wala silang advantage ng terrain?

Ngayon po, ano ang mga nangyari pa? Pagtawid una ‘nung seaborne, biglang mataas ‘yung tubig at malakas ‘yung current. Ang nakatawid doon sa 38, 13. So ‘nung ginawa ‘yung plano—‘yung seaborne na operator po kasi 50-plus e—hindi ginamit ‘yung buong 50-plus, ang ginamit 38. So 38 was deemed enough at mayroon kang reserved, kung tutuusin, doon sa unit para ma-accomplish ‘yung pagtira doon sa dalawang target and then ‘yung pagkuha. ‘Nung nangyari ‘yon, 13 na lang ang natira, one-third na lang ng puwersa mo; pwede na hong nagsabing ‘abort.’ Teka muna, kailangan natin times three, ang dadalhin natin one-third; mukhang malabo itong planong ito. First time na—‘yung sa pagtingin pa lang po doon sa nangyari. ‘Yung SAF 55 naman po na umabot sila sa waypoint 12, ang debate po dapat nasa waypoint 19 sila. Waypoint po parang ‘yung sa GPS (global positioning system), dapat nandito kayo sa puwestong ito. So ang distansya po bawat waypoint between 100 to 200 meters, so malayo sa puwesto para makaalalay ‘yung SAF 55. Pwedeng… ‘Nung nalaman ko… Ang makakaalam po nito ‘yung tactical command post kung saan nandoon si Director Napeñas. Kulang ‘yung seaborne na nakatawid muna ‘nung ilog, malayo ‘yung aalalay, pwede na niyang sinabi ‘yung ‘abort.’ Dahil nahuli sa pagpuwesto ‘yung SAF 55, ‘yung SAF 41 to 45 na nauna na bumabantay ng ruta at saka ng kalsada, nahuli rin. Dapat silang i-deploy 2:30 ng umaga, dineploy sila ng 5:30 ng umaga. Ang problema po ng 5:30 ng umaga, malapit nang sumikat ‘yung araw, wala nang silbi ‘yung night vision mo—hindi ka na lamang. Pwede na namang sinabi ‘yung ‘abort.’ Parang makikita naman niyang, ‘Uy! 2:30, e 3:30 na hindi pa nakapuwesto; 4:30 na hindi pa nakapuwesto; 5:30 na hindi nakapuwesto’—pwedeng i-abort. Sasabihin—[baka ho may] magtatanong: ‘bakit hindi siya nag-abort?’ Hindi ko ho alam. Dahil marami ho silang ibang operation na nag-abort at iba-iba ang dahilan.

Sa totoo lang ho, dito sa pagkakausap ko sa SAF, doon sa plano parati pong mayroong isang pahina na sinasabing ‘kailan tayo pwedeng mag-abort?’ Dito ho tinanggal ‘yung pahina. Nawala doon sa operations nila na mayroong parang pahintulot na pwede kayong mag-abort. Ngayon ho, ang masakit, pagdating nitong SAF 41 to 45, pagbaba nila ng sasakyan, ang testimonya ng mga hepe nilang nandoon, nagpuputukan na. Ang dapat siguro ‘non—mga 300 mahigit po ito, mga 318 o 319—inipon mo ‘yang puwersang ‘yan, dinikitan mo na as much as possible, sinubukan mong tulungan ‘yung SAF 55. Ang inutos daw ho sa kanila, ‘punta kayo doon sa mga waypoints ninyo.’ Parang tinuloy ‘yung plano na nagbago na ‘yung nangyayari o ‘yung kondisyones. Tapos ‘nung hinati-hati dito sa kanilang mga waypoints—siyam na waypoints yata silang hinati doon sa 300—hindi, sandali ho. ‘Yung tatlong kompanya, hinati sa siyam; tapos ‘yung dalawang kompanya pa o platoon, actually, iniwan doon sa kalsada para bantayan ‘yung kalsada, hindi sila ma-ambush doon sa kalsadang ito. ‘Nung hinati-hati ‘yung puwersa, bigla nang nakapag-isip, mukhang kailangan nating tulungan ‘yung 55, ipunin lahat ‘yan. Siyempre, tumatakbo na po ‘yung oras, nagbabakbakan na; hinati-hati mo, iipunin mo; by the time na nakalapit po sila, ang testimonya sa akin, napalibutan na nang husto ‘yung SAF 55—hindi sila makalapit. Sumubok hong tumulong, supposed to be, ‘yung SAF 45 sa isang side; tapos ‘yung bumabalik po na seaborne, sumubok ring makipag-link up dito sa SAF 55. Pero masyadong malakas daw ho ‘yung putukan, ‘yung mortar, hindi sila makalapit.

Ngayon ho, ‘yung ginawa ho ni Director Napeñas, ‘yung sinabihan niya akong 160 ang gagamitin dito, ang dinala niya doon over 390. Tapos, siyempre, iniisip natin bakit niya ginawa ito? ‘Nung sinabi ko sa kanyang ‘yung 160 manipis, inisip niya: ‘teka muna, kumuha na ako ng lahat ng madadala ko diyan.’ So ‘yung 160, times two, 320; dinagdagan pa niya kaya naging 390. Siya lang ho—at ilan sa kanila doon sa senior na group—ang nakakaalam na hindi sila nag-coordinate sa AFP. ‘Yung coordinate po: ‘Dito kami papasok, dito kami lalabas; ito ang potensyal na haharang sa amin, ito ang kailangan naming alalay sa inyo,’ ‘di ba? ‘Yon ho ang coordination e. Ngayon, sana ho pwede kong masabing ‘tatanga-tanga si Napeñas, hindi niya alam ‘yung lugar.’ Ang problema ho siya ‘yung regional public safety battalion commander ‘nung 2007 to 2008. Alam po niya ‘yung terrain; alam po niya ‘yung kultura. Siya po ang may alam na hindi siya nag-coordinate sa AFP. Idagdag ko pa ho, nagkaroon ng… ‘Yung AFP bakit naman nila alam na may ganitong operation? ‘Nung AFP Day po ‘nung 2014, nagkaroon ng coordination meeting, na para bang nag-usap ng concept. Walang sinabing detalye. Sa dulo po ‘nung meeting, hihintayin ng AFP ‘yung mga detalye para makapagplano sila ng kanilang papel. Nagkaroon ng pangalawang meeting sa ZAmboanga, wala pa rin ‘yung detalye. So ang pananaw ng AFP, walang operation, hanggang humihingi na ng saklolo alas-sais ng umaga—pabalik na. Tandaan ho ninyo, nangako siya ‘nung una, ‘jump-off’—10:00 ng gabi ‘yon—sabi ko, days before. Hindi nagawa ‘yung days before, hindi nagawa ‘yung 10:00, ginawa po niya ‘nung pabalik na ‘yung tropa—‘yung ‘time on target’ na tinatawag nila.

Ngayon, ‘yung AFP ho sumubok tumulong, ‘yon bang… Sa totoo lang ho, may mga radyong sophisticated na ginagamit po ng Sandatahang Lakas at saka ng pulis. Sa pulis po dalawang klase pa ang mga radyo. Pero ‘nung araw na ‘yan parang maraming gumamit ng cellphone. At ‘yung cellphone hindi ho maganda ang signal sa ibang lugar, nagkaroon pa ng question ng load, ‘yung mga ganoon ho—kasama na ho ‘yon sa itutugis ng Board of Inquiry. Pero ang bottom line ho, kung alam ko na ganito ang gagawin niya from the start, ay hinindian ko ho itong misyon na ito. Parang ‘yung pwedeng-pwedeng maging successful na misyon, sa ginawa niyang plano, parang naging mission impossible. Ngayon ho, ‘yung masakit ho nito sa totoo lang, bago ako umalis at tumungo ng Zamboanga, nakatanggap ako ng dalawang text: isa galing kay Director General Purisima kung saan nilagay doon na ‘yung artillery saka ‘yung armor ay tumutulong na. Hindi ‘tutulong’ pero nakalagay po doon are ‘all ready to support.’ Nag-text po si Napeñas, ipinadala niya sa liderato ng PNP—kay General (Leonardo) Espina—mga alas-singko na ng umaga, o baka alas-sais na ng umaga, kung saan ang pinaka-importanteng parte doon sa ipinadala niya… Sinabi naman ho ‘yung ‘si Marwan nakuha, umatras ‘nung may nakipaglaban…’—ganyan. Sa dulo po ‘nung text ni Napeñas, nakalagay doon, ‘extraction ongoing.’ Hindi ho ‘extraction is imminent’ or ‘extraction started’—‘extraction is ongoing.’ So binalikan ko po itong mga text dahil sabi ko, ‘bakit ba wala akong sense of urgency na delikado ang mangyayari o nangyayari doon sa SAF 55?’ ‘Pag sinama niyo ‘yung dalawang texts, tapos ‘yung nag-‘yes, sir’ sa akin… Ako lang naman po ‘yung Commander-in-Chief, sinabi ng subordinate ko na tutuparin niya ‘yung utos ko—at mayroon naman pong nangyari noong 2013 na ‘pag tama ang coordination ay hindi ho napapahamak, ‘di ba, ‘yung ating tropa—akala ko ho tapos na ‘yung insidente. Pagdating ko ho ng Zamboanga City, doon naging klaro, halos walang may alam. Naging maliwanag na walang coordination. ‘Yung nasaan ba actually ang tinutulungan natin?

‘Yung seaborne ho na SAF, sa totoo lang hapon na, late afternoon bago tayo sinabihan na mayroong—dalawa pala ang sinasalba nating SAF units, hindi lang ‘yung 55. Ngayon ho, ‘yung… Sa totoo lang, naghanda tayo pati eroplano. Pag-alis ko ho sa Villamor patungo ng Zamboanga, sabi ko sa commanding general ng Air Force, sabi ko ‘yung operation natin kay Marwan ha, siguraduhin mo ‘yung available assets talagang available.’ Sagot sa akin: ‘Yes, sir.’ Alam ko nag-coordinate sila lahat e. Pag-alis ko, tumawag siya sa Western Mindanao Command, sinabi ‘ano ba ‘yung operation kay Marwan?’ So talagang mayroon pa hong mga ibang detalye na pababayaan ko na ‘yung Board of Inquiry. Pero madaling… Mapapakita po sa lahat ng ebidensya—cellphone records, witnesses, et cetera—sinolo ni Napeñas, siya ang nag-desisyon, at ang dami niyang mga desisyon… Parang may times hindi yata nag-desisyon, may times ho ‘yung desisyon niya palpak. Pero pag-alis na pag-alis niya sa akin noong January 9, or thereabouts, mukhang lumalabas ngayon wala siyang intensyon na tuparin ‘yung utos ko sa kanyang makipag-coordinate.

Ngayon ho, kung may coordination sana, ‘yung seaborne ho… Nagkaroon… Una, isa lang ang sugatan sa kanila, pero ‘nung hinabol nang hinabol sila umabot ng siyam ang kanilang casualties. ‘Yung kaya nasalba nakapaputok ang AFP ng tinatawag nilang marking rounds: papuputok ng artillery round, makikita mo kung saan tatama, mag-a-adjust kayo—iabante ninyo, iatras ninyo, igilid ng kanan, kaliwa. Nagpaputok ng isa, hindi nakita; nagpaputok ng pangalawa para makita ulit; at inabutan ng pangatlo para manigurado. ‘Yung kalaban, nakita tatlo na ang pumutok, akala po nila dahil ‘yon ngang… Normally, ‘pag nagpaputok ka ng marking, ‘yung una sobra; ‘yung pangalawa, kulang; ‘yung pangatlo, sentro—pagtapos ‘nung pangatlo… So tatawag na ngayon ‘yung commander on the ground ng ‘fire for effect,’ bubuhusan na ng rounds ‘yon.

So ‘nung pumutok ‘yung tatlo, akala ng kalaban parating na ‘yung artillery na bubuhos sa kanila, umatras—doon na-rescue ‘yung seaborne. Kung nag-coordinate sa umpisa’t umpisa, sa atras nila mayroon na tayong artillery na haharang doon sa humahabol, iba ho ang usapan. Pero dahil wala hong sinabihan, hindi nag-coordinate; ‘yung coordinate ho saan ba manggagaling… Saan ba nakapuwesto ‘yung artillery ninyo? Ano ba ang maximum distance niyan? Hindi ka pwedeng dumaan doon sa kung saan tatakbo ‘yung artillery round, kailangan sa gilid. Saan ba dapat babagsak ‘yan? Anong oras ba dapat mong ipadala ‘yan? ‘Yung minuto ho importante e. ‘Nung dumating ho, sabi ng AFP, may parteng hindi maibigay ‘yung eksaktong puwesto. So ngayon, ‘yung kausap mo nandito siya, ‘nung dumating ‘yung bala nandoon siya, e doon mo ipinadala ‘yung artillery rounds, hindi ho pwede, kaya kailangan may coordination na maganda—patung-patong ho ‘yan hanggang, ‘yon na nga ho, nabilad.

Medyo ‘yun ‘yong ikinasasama ko ng loob e. Hindi dapat mangyari ito: [kung] sumunod ka na lang sa utos, iba na sana ang nangyari. At the very least, mababawasan ‘yung casualty natin. Sana hindi mo na rin plinano na lulusob diyan stealthily, kuno-kuno, na wala naman palang pagkukublihan. Sana hindi mo na dineploy ng 5:30 ng umaga na wala nang silbi ‘yung night vision mo.

Ang mga deboto po nating kapatid na Muslim, ‘yung mga iba ho nagdadasal alas-quatro ng umaga. So ‘pag dumating ka ng alas-singko y medya medyo gising na gising na, at ‘yun ‘yong iniiwasan mo na makakita sa’yo para nga hindi ka mapintakasi, pero alam niya ‘yon e. Dumating ng 5:30, pinabayaan pa rin. Ngayon, ano ba ang alam ko doon? So marami hong operation; na-abort for one reason or another, tapos ito sinabi sa akin from January 23 to 26. Tapos bigla na lang January 25, umaga, ito na ‘yung tinetext. Sana, sana nasabihan ako: ‘sir, napaligiran na ‘yung tropa natin dito, medyo mabagal ang kilos ng AFP’—parang ganoon—iba ang usapan. Pero ang sinabi, pag-alis ko, bago ako umalis ng bahay papunta ng airport: ‘nililigtas na lahat at tumutulong na lahat ng dapat tumulong.’ Hindi pala totoo ‘yon. Ang totoo lang ho kasi, ‘yung armor support umalis ng kampo…’ ‘Di ba, ‘yung text ho 7:30, mga 8:20 nakaalis ‘nung kampo. Anim na V-150 at isang platoon dahil inipon lahat ‘yon muna. Hinanap ‘yung tatao diyan tapos pinatakbo ‘yung anong mayroon sila—‘yon po ‘yung quick reaction force. Tapos ‘nung nagkatanungan, saan ba exactly ‘yung pupuntahan namin? Ayun, naglabas ng Google map, banda rito. Talagang may lack of professionalism.

‘Yon na ang point, kasama siya sa mananagot. Siyempre, may mga tumutuligsa sa atin dito. Inutusan daw siya, isinasalba ko ang sarili ko, ganoon—aba, hindi ah. Kung ako ang may kasalanan dito, bakit hindi ko aakuin lahat? Pero ‘pag nakita ho ninyo ‘yung pagpaplano nito, napakahusay ho ‘nung Power Point presentation. Sa—‘pag binansagan po kalsada sabi nila, ‘ang ganda ng plano kaya lang drowing pala ito.’ Alam ninyo, may isang pahina pa ho doon nilagay kung sino ang contact na liaison sa presentation. ‘Pag kailangan mo ‘yung mechanized brigade, ito; ‘pag kailangan mo ‘yan, ito—anong unit niya, et cetera. Sabi ng mga operator ngayon, para bang doon tinanong, ‘paano ho kami magko-coordinate? Sagot raw ni Napeñas, ‘ako na ang bahala.’ Importante ho ‘yung ground commander, ‘yung talagang nandoon, ‘yung operating: ‘Sir, nandito na kami at this time sa puwestong ganito.

Ang kalaban ay nasa ganitong direksyon. Ang dami nila ay ganyan. Kailangan namin ng artillery support sa ganitong grid.’ Ang makakaalam ‘non ‘yung nandoon. Hindi ‘yung ibabato niya kay Director Napeñas, si Napeñas ibabato sa AFP; AFP magtatanong, balik kay Napeñas; si Napeñas balik dito sa tropa. E kung naghahabulan kayo, baka by the time natapos lahat ‘yon, tapos na ‘yung bakbakan—‘di ho ba? So ‘pag tinanong niyo ako kung bakit nag-isip ng ganito, ewan ko ho. Mayroon akong mga duda, anong motivating factor niya, pero maliwanag na maliwanag ho na mali. ‘Yung sabi ko sa kanya, ‘baka mapintakasi tayo rito. Hindi pwede ‘yung 160 mo bahala na doon sa katapat na 3,000 to 4,000. Kailangan nating maniguradong may backup at ‘yung backup ‘yung AFP. Nandiyan ang tangke, eroplano, sundalo, artillery. Itinago sa kanila. Tapos sinubukan pa sigurong, ‘di ba, parang remedyuhin—‘kaya ko pa ito.’ E lahat ng pagreremedyong ‘yon, bumawas nang bumawas ‘yung oras para matulungan natin in a timely manner ‘yung ating mga ipinadala doon.

‘Nung tinanong po ako ng mga pamilya, sabi sa akin, ipinadala po ninyo doon at tila napabayaan. Bakit ho ganoon ang nangyari? At sa totoo lang ho, para sa akin, the truth is I was given the wrong information by the people who knew most what was happening, and unfortunately, the others who did not know anything could not give me any further information rather than very raw information. ‘Yung kailangan mayroon silang tinatawag na 'situational awareness' e. 'Yung ground commander has to know, has to be close enough to the battle scene to ba able to see all of his operating units. But he shouldn’t be too close to the battle scene that he can only see one component of all the units. Si Napeñas po was 15 kilometers away. So ‘yung, ‘di ba, parang in a chessboard ina-arrange lahat ‘nung pieces. Hindi ko alam at some point kung saan niya nabitawan ‘yung situational awareness tapos diretso nang nataranta. Ang problema ‘yung nataranta, to a large degree, siya lang ang may alam ‘nung maraming detalye na kakailangin ‘nung aalalay.

Now, having said that, the mission itself is inherently risky. ‘Yung target ho IED (improvised explosive device) ang ginagawa e, booby traps. You can expect na mayroon silang force multiplier na ‘pag lulusubin mo ito, mayroon itong mga traps. Mayroong mga other plans po na—and let me just share that with you—sorry ang haba ng sagot ko. ‘Yung isa ho sa operations kasi was supposed to be waterborne. Tapos tamang-tama, gagamitin si seaborne, so may capabilities to operate watercraft. Marshy area po—may mga rivers, may swamps, et cetera—so ‘yung boats would have given them an opportunity to enter stealthily and approach the target from just about 200 meters away instead of walking four kilometers.

Siyempre, mas konti ‘yung makaka-detect sa inyo sa 200 meters, kaysa sa 4,000 meters. So ‘nung last briefing nga ho, ‘nung January 9, bigla na lang naging land march. Ano nang nangyari doon sa pinaplano ninyong waterborne? Ang sagot sa akin ‘yung tubig daw ho bumaba na. Hindi na raw kayang i-support ‘yung waterborne operation. After the incident, out of curiosity tinanong ko po ang DOST (Department of Science and Technology), and through them tinanong ang PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), ang sagot po sa akin water levels in December and in January were practically the same. Napapag-isip ako ngayon: ‘Drowing din ba ‘yung hindi na kaya ‘yung tubig?’

Can I just add: When they actually launched this previously at nag-abort, why was it aborted? ‘Nung sumakay na sa kanilang mga boats at nag-proceed na doon sa target area, three out of five—if I remember correctly—were taking in water. Lumulubog po itong mga boats, so in-abort, balik sa pinagdaungan. Doon ko ho unang nakilala si Napeñas e. Sabi ko, seaborne, ikaw ang commander, bakit naman hindi pa ninyo matantiya ‘yung kakayahan ng boat versus ‘yung ilalagay doon sa boat? Medyo, sabi sa akin, ‘sir, ‘nung tao, equipment lang, okay;’ ‘nung nilagay ‘yung armor—‘yung body vests, helmets, et cetera—sumobra na raw. Sabi ko parang dapat yata nakikita ‘yon sa practice pa lang e. Kaya ‘nung January 9 nagtanong ako, kako, may night vision. Sanay ba ‘yung mga tao mong gumamit? ‘Sir, halos ara-araw nagpapraktis sila’—ganoon.

Ngayon, siguro ‘yung pinaka-generous way of looking at it, maraming wishful thinking si Napeñas as opposed to reality. Pero maliwanag sa akin, binola niya ako.

Ngayon, ano ho ang responsibilidad ko at this point in time? May kasabihan ho e: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." At wala akong balak na ma-‘fool me twice,’ kaya ho humanda ho lahat ng… Tinawag ko hong liderato ng PNP, sabi ko, ‘alam niyo ‘pag may utos tapos nag-deviate kayo, siguraduhin ninyo mayroong justification for the deviation—nagbago ‘yung facts on the ground, for instance—dahil 'pag hindi ninyo na-justify, one degree ng deviation na wala nang benefit of the doubt, insubordination kaagad ‘yan and you will be out and you will be parang filed the appropriate charges. Now, the task before us, siyempre (is) to take care of the families that were left behind and reconstitute the SAF to rebuild its esprit de corps, its morale, especially and given the fact that next year, the police will play a very vital role in ensuring that we have safe, orderly, and peaceful elections. So they have to be ready before that period comes in. I hope that gives you a bird’s eye view of what transpired. Thank you po.