No amount of inquiry or investigation can bring back the lives of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) members who were killed in Sunday’s bloody firefight in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Neither can the posthumous honors or accolade be enough consolation for the family and loved ones of these men – husbands, fathers, boyfriends, brothers, sons – whose death in the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is cavalierly described as an “unfortunate mis-encounter.”
Not even the fact that heads will roll – and one head that has been placed on the chopping block is that of SAF director Getulio Pascua who has been relieved – will console the grief of widows, children, girlfriends, mothers and fathers especially with the account from a survivor that those who were still alive were finished off, while those who were already dead were sadistically pumped with more bullets. It was by all intents and purposes another Maguindanao massacre, with the number of casualties higher than the 58 who were summarily executed in November 2009.
Many are glad to hear that Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has already withdrawn his support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, because the bloodbath last Sunday puts the sincerity of the MILF under serious question. A lot of people also think that Senator Bongbong Marcos is right in suspending the hearings on the BBL, because the MILF explanation about the “mis-encounter” does not fly with many of them – especially that part where Mohagher Iqbal faults the government forces for entering a so-called “MILF-influenced area.”
Since when does the government need the permission of a rebel group to conduct a lawful order – like serve a warrant of arrest against a wanted terrorist? And is Mamasapano still part of Philippine territory? Last we heard, it’s still under the jurisdiction of the government – unless we have given up our territory to a rebel group.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of questions that the PNP leadership has to satisfactorily answer. Who authorized the operation, and who handpicked the men since it’s obvious that they were taken from different geographic units and are not familiar with the territory, much less the terrain? Why was there no coordination with the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, which could have provided them additional firepower in case the situation became tight which is eventually what happened? And then again, isn’t the Special Action Force normally reserved for commando type, blitzkrieg kind of operations that require only a small unit or a crack team, not the 50-plus contingent that was sent to serve a warrant of arrest?
And as Congressman and former AFP chief Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon said in an interview with DZMM’s Ted Failon, the men, and whoever tasked them, should have known that they were not going to Quiapo to serve a warrant of arrest against an ordinary criminal – they were on the hunt for a top international terrorist in an area that could have been harboring hostile forces. Were the men aware of the situation in Mamasapano, and the potential hostile forces they could encounter? For sure, Zulkifli bin Hir a.k.a. Marwan and Basit Usman would not be all by their lonesome – they would be surrounded by their cohorts and JI followers. It is also unclear what kind of tactical operation the SAF had in mind, or what contingency plan they had in case things did not go well, as it also became apparent that they did not have enough fire support and lacked air cover.
What was also disturbing, Biazon said, is the fact that the AFP – primarily the members of the 6th ID – was not able to come to the rescue of the embattled PNP-SAF because their “hands were tied” – paralyzed in effect – because there was a ceasefire. What are the guidelines in cases such as the bloody encounter last Sunday? Should government forces be sacrificed – allowed to die like ducks on a parade – because there is a ceasefire? Shouldn’t the lives of the policemen (and soldiers for that matter) take precedence, especially since the government forces were presumably undertaking a lawful order?
For sure, even the soldiers are angry and frustrated, because the Mamasapano massacre brings to mind the 2007 beheadings of the Philippine Marines who were in Basilan on a mission to rescue kidnapped Italian missionary priest Giancarlo Bossi. Then as now, Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF forces only fought back after the Marines attacked an “MILF stronghold,” accusing the government forces of violating a ceasefire agreement. We see a pattern here, and it’s one that is definitely disturbing.
Parlors report losses nationwide
Beauty parlor and salon operators all over the Philippines reported losses last Monday as regular clients called to cancel appointments, while prospective patrons opted to postpone planned cuts and other hair treatments. Apparently, beauticians and hair stylists were all in a foul mood following the loss of Philippine bet Mary Jane Lastimosa at the recently concluded Miss Universe competition in Florida. None of the customers wanted to be at the receiving end of the inconsolable grief of the parlor workers, whose emotions turned even more sour after their second best favorite Miss Jamaica was announced fourth runner up, and Colombia’s Paulina Vega brought home the cake – er –crown.
The Wayward SOI (thewaywardsoi.wordpress.com) also had an exclusive with presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte who announced that the Palace ordered the suspension of all beauty parlor operations yesterday to show solidarity with the grieving LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. Happy Hour shares in this shocking turn of events in the beauty pageant scene, and will avoid Goldilocks cakes and ice creams made of ube, cheese, strawberry and vanilla for the next two weeks.
For comments, reactions, photos, stories and related concerns, readers may email to email@example.com. You may also visit and like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/happyhourmanilastandard. We’d be very happy to hear from you. Cheers!