DAVAO CITY – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte remains critical of the Aquino government’s handling of the bloody Mamasapano clash saying that it was careless when it authorized the anti-terrorist raid that led to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force police, 17 MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) fighters and 9 civilians.

In his Sunday television program, Duterte said that “In the eyes of the President, PNP Chief Alan Purisima was a brilliant soldier (but), the fact remains that he was suspended. He was not supposed to exercise the powers of his office. You order soldiers to go there and die…when you ought not to be moving around with (that) authority.”

Duterte said that what happened was “a special operation” and that “(one can) throw caution to the winds.”

“If you fail to inform the MILF, there would really by a misencounter. Suddenly you burst out in the open and you are there as if you are conquering soldiers? You will surely shoot each other there,” he said.

He said he “should know of the dynamics” as he is from Mindanao and his experience of being the Regional Peace and Order Council chairperson.

Duterte also revealed that on the day of the incident, he was in Zamboanga City along with the President and some of his cabinet secretaries and staff. Although Interior and Local Government Sectary Mar Roxas did not inform him of the Mamasapano, another government official told him of it when he was on his way out.

Purisima’s involvement is subject to the investigation of the police’s Board of Inquiry.

In a television interview Tuesday night which Purisima granted for the first time since the incident, he said he “did not have a direct hand” in the incident.

“I only gave guidance for the SAF. The go signal is from SAF itself: when to walk, when to move (and) when to bring their things. It is already stipulated in their plans,” Purisima said.

Purisima said he resigned to “give the President space.”

President Aquino, in his speech Friday night accepting Purisima’s resignation, said that he and Purisima “have spent a long time together.”

He said that Purisima was the one who trained him in a “modified VIP protection course” and “against powerful interests that may put us in peril.”

Questions were raised as to how the operation was planned, who gave the final “go signal” and whether it was coordinated with the Army and MILF with whom the government has a pending law in Congress.

For its part, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said “Aquino clearly wanted to undercut Filipinos’ mounting anger at him and growing call for his resignation and he utterly failed.”

Labog also said “the US government and Aquino are directly responsible for the deaths resulting from the Mamasapano operation.”

The role of the United States in the operation has been also persistently reported as US troops were seen in a “medical rescue operations” after the incident.

Several reports citing different unnamed sources in the police force tells of the involvement of the US either in intelligence operations and realtime surveillance using spy drones.

A national newspaper, however, alleged that the US “funded” the operation, planned it in a beach resort in Zamboanga City and participated themselves in the operations.

The report said the SAF troops acted as “guards” of US operatives and were monitored by Aquino himself in a “drone center” and was the one who gave the order for reinforcements to “stand down” in order not to compromise the presence of the Americans.

The report also said that drones were only monitoring the SAF group who the Americans went with and not the other SAF group who were trapped in a cornfield.

The group in cornfield were decimated, 36 of them died and only 1 survived while the assault group only had 8 dead as they were allegedly being watched by the drone, said the report.

The source of the report said that American casualties were the first evacuated by the US helicopter in a helicopter, which was also featured in television news reports.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in a statement said the operation was a “US-instigated and directed operation to assassinate Marwan.”

The CPP said that the US military has “intensified its presence and operations in the country. The US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) has maintained its base in Zamboanga and has launched operations in and around Western Mindanao.”

The CPP said that the US’ operations aims to “dominate the Bangsamoro ancestral lands and ensure that big US companies seize control of the contracts to plunder the resources in the vast Liguasan marshland and other resource-rich areas.”

Meanwhile, 54 individuals from Davao City left for Maguindanao Sunday for a “People’s Fact-Finding Mission.”

The group, headed by Moro organization Suara Bangsamoro and Moro human rights group Kagawib, said the mission wants to “investigate and verify cases of human rights violations against civilians; seek an understanding of the context, antecedents, and implications of the incident; determine and analyze United States’ involvement; and
express interfaith solidarity and unity with the affected communities.” (davaotoday.com)

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