DAVAO CITY – Only the removal of President Benigno Aquino III from office would quench the search for justice of the nearly 70 victims of a botched police operations in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, said a Moro human rights group as official investigations point to the accountability of the President and the involvement of the US military.
“Aquino and his master, the United States, are now proven to be masterminds and perpetrators of the Mamasapano incident. Aquino’s immediate removal from office is justice for the victims,” said Bai Ali Indayla, spokesperson of Moro human rights group Kawagib.
Indayla said that the result of the Senate inquiry and the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry “is proof of Aquino’s undeniable accountability.”
An operation of the PNP’s Special Action against Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, high-value targets of the US, led to the death of 44 police officers, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and eight civilians in a supposed “misencounter.”
The incident also stalled the conclusion of a government peace deal with the MILF with whom it has a ceasefire agreement.
The incident has since been the subject of several investigations including that of the Senate and House of Representatives.
The role of the United States military, whose personnel were seen hauling wounded men in a helicopter immediately after the incident was also questioned, but US officials in the Philippines repeatedly denied participation in the operation.
However, both the Senate and the BOI report said six officers of the United States were involved in the actual operation.
“There are indications that the planning and the execution of the Oplan Exodus were not 100 percent Filipino planned and implemented,” said the Senate report citing a testimony of Napeñas.
The report said that “Napeñas brought three Americans into the Army Brigade headquarters (HQ). A helicopter arrived and three more Americans came into the HQ (headquarters) and joined Napeñas at his work table.”
The report said “(o)ne of the Americans, identified by Napeñas as Mr. Al Katz, supposedly handled the training of the Seaborne” and that “(o)ne of the Americans ordered Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to fire the artillery.”
“However, Pangilinan refused and told him, “Do not dictate to me what to do. I am the commander here!” said the report.
The report also said that “the Americans provided surveillance in the area through their Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR). TV monitors were brought in by the Americans to the HQ.
“During the public hearings on the Mamasapano incident, Napeñas admitted that a “U.S. counterpart” was involved in at least three aspects -intelligence cooperation, training and equipment provision,” said the report.
Indayla said the report “may have been influenced by the untiring call of the people for truth and accountability.”
“The people have never been fooled by the spin of Aquino and his allies in relieving him of accountability on this incident,” said Indayla.
Indayla said that their own investigations and earlier claims of US involvement “are now being exposed despite their repeated denials.”
The group earlier reported that based on their interviews with residents that a “white plane”, which the group claims to be a drone, was seen circling their communities seven days before the operation took place.
While the Senate report said that US troops had “non-participation in combat”, the group also earlier reported that a farmer saw “a dead blue-eyed and even touched his nose.”
Indayla said they are “not surprised that our investigation reports are confirmed.”
“The US-puppetry of Aquino is a contract which he pledged to when he took the oath to be the President,” said Indayla during the 47th commemoration of the Jabidah Massacre.
The infamous incident refers to the March 18, 1968 massacre of Moro recruits to cover up a secret plan by then President Ferdinand Marcos to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia.
She said the discovered US involvement “only validates the reports of civilians and patriotic groups that they are involved in operations in Basilan, in Maimbung, Sulu and other parts of the country.”
“This incident adds to US’ long list of atrocities against the Filipino people and the people of the world wherein they victimize civilians,” said Indayla. (davaotoday.com)