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Pres. Aquino must resign and be held accountable for Mamasapano deaths

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Beyond truth and accountability:

A call for resignation



We, youth and students of the Philippines, join the call for President Benigno Aquino III’s resignation, following the botched Mamasapano operation that led to the death of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), five members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and seven civilians.

As more details come to light, it is becoming more and more apparent that the operation was a calculated move masterminded by no less than the US government and greenlighted by President Aquino. No less than President Aquino himself admitted that the operation has been hatched way back in 2010, in the early days of his presidency.

In the past days, a vivid picture has been emerging – that Aquino accepted without question the US military’s plot to capture suspected terrorists Abdulbasit Usman and Zulkipli Bin Hir alias Marwan, and in turn assigned the operation to his close friend and ally, PNP Chief Alan Purisima, despite the fact that the embattled police chief is currently suspended for allegations of corruption.

At the very beginning, the whole operation was a mission driven by vanity and full-blooded submissiveness to Washington – Aquino wanted to show the world and his master, the US, that his uniformed personnel can capture high-value targets. At the same time, the president wanted to use the operation to salvage Purisima’s tarnished reputation. In fact, Aquino was already in Zamboanga on that fateful day of January 25, ready to present the targets if the operation succeeded.

Yet the Mamasapano operation did not go as planned. The PNP-SAF entered the town of Mamasapano, a known MILF stronghold, without even informing the MILF leadership – a requirement under the current peace negotiation between the rebel group and the government. Worse, the manner in which Aquino and Purisima kept details of the operation to themselves left both the leadership of the Armed Forces and the PNP in the dark, making it difficult for them to respond to the ensuing firefight.

That Aquino directed and greenlighted the whole operation is one matter – what’s worse is that he denied any involvement once the operation nosedived. Facing the whole nation through a televised speech, he washed his hands of accountability and blamed his men on the ground for the bloodshed. To add insult to the injury, Aquino did not even think of attending the arrival honor ceremony of the PNP-SAF in Villamor Airbase, and instead headed to the opening of a car factory in Laguna.

It is apparent that Aquino does not fully grasp the functions and responsibilities of being both president and commander-in-chief. As president, he should have known what the implications of a large-scale operation in an MILF town would have on the peace process. He should have thought of the civilians who would be trapped in the firefight, of the thousands of families who will again be displaced due to the operation. As commander-in-chief, he should have known the danger that the so-called Operation Wolverine posed to his men and scrapped the whole operation altogether. Yet his vanity and subservience to the US got ahead of him.

Aquino’s ghastly display of recalcitrance and arrogance in times of conflict has now ignited further discontent for his presidency. Now, even uniformed personnel have reason to protest against him – for he essentially used almost 400 of his men for an operation riddled with confusion, only to disown the whole plan the minute it failed.

There are conservative quarters who seek to simply search for “truth and accountability” amid the Mamasapano debacle. However, the same rallying call is now being used by no less than Malacañang to point fingers elsewhere and mislead the nation. In restraining our calls only up to the level of “truth and accountability,” we will be ignoring the context in which the current administration stands: that this presidency has already lost its moral high ground.

The Mamasapano clash is the result of a failure of leadership – of letting an inutile president stay in power even if he has long lost his moral ascendancy to lead the nation. Aquino has repeatedly shown his incompetence throughout his years in office – in the manner in which he bungled the relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, in the way he still blames the past administration for the rise in poverty and inequality in the country, and in the way he continually invokes “good faith” for various corruption scandals particularly the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court has recently affirmed as unconstitutional.

 

Clearly, the Filipino nation can no longer entrust the reins of government to Aquino. Beyond the search for truth and accountability, we call on each and every Filipino youth to join the ranks of the swelling number of disgruntled Filipinos in calling for Aquino’s resignation.



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