With the rigmarole in the testimonies of the resource persons in the ongoing Senate hearing on the Mamasapano, it is doubtful if it can be relied upon as an avenue in the search for truth. Nevertheless, some information can be gleaned which point to accountabilities for the tragic consequences of the operation.

​The contradicting statements between President Aquino’s and that of the resource persons clearly reveal that lies and doublespeak are still the favorite dishes of the President and the other government officials involved. In between the meshes in all these untruths and half-truths we can extract conclusive information, and can decidedly identify who are lying. These lies, of course, are intended to fool and mislead the public, as if the people are that naïve and moronic they are incapable of sifting the grain from the chaff.

​After a no-nonsense questioning to the tone of a dressing down by lady Senator Miriam Santiago, General Alan Purisima admitted accountability and announced that he has resigned. What remains to be heard is President Aquino’s honest words that would clarify in no uncertain terms his role and involvement.

The people have had enough of his doublespeak. Now, he must come out with clear categorical statement that he did in fact ordered General Leo Napenas to go ahead and implement Oplan Wolverine and Oplan Exodus as planned. And if so, would he not now revoke the suspension he had imposed on the SAF Director?

​On the other hand, what is really the involvement of the US FBI and or CIA? It seems to be getting clearer that the US has a hand in the botched operation. To what extent its role and involvement are, only the highest officials in the Government and the Philippine Military organization would know. It would be outright absurd to aver that the President is not privy to the over-all project. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the State security forces.

And if the men around him would insist that the President is out of culpability or accountability for the incident, then there is something seriously wrong with our system.

​While this rigmarole in the Senate and House of Representatives were going on, private institutions and individuals were also doing their own “on the ground”investigations on the Mamasapano incident. The Fact-Finding Mission spearheaded by Suara Bangsamoro, Kalinaw Mindanao and Kawagib groups together with some Moro leaders, human rights advocates, children’s rights advocates, church leaders, youth leaders, labor leaders, women leaders, and alternative journalists, about 100 individuals that included Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan —went to the area and conducted interviews with the civilian residents. Their fact-finding mission covered four affected barangays in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, namely Tukanalipao, Pidsandawan, Pimbalkan and Tuka. All in all, these covered 5,000 individuals.

​The Mission was able to gather sworn affidavits from residents of these barangays who testified to the use of drones before and during the botched operation on January 25. It was also able to gather testimonies of several witnesses who said they saw the body of at lesast one Caucasian-looking US personnel (purportedly military) among the remains of SAF commandos in the aftermath of the bloody encounters. Undoubtedly this amounts to a clear violation of the country’s national sovereignty. And our Government under President Noynoy allows this because, as I have repreatedly pointed out in my earlier articles, ours is a puppet government of the US. He can never stand in the way of what the US wants to do in our lands.

​Other facts gathered by the Mission revealed that farmer, Badrudin Langalan, 18 years old, was found dead among the lifeless bodies of the fallen SAF members, his hands and feet bound. Also, an 8 year old child, Sarah Pananggulon, was shot on her side while she was sleeping with her parents and brother in their house in Sitio Inugog, Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town. This is a case of extrajudicial killing perpetrated by SAF member as identified by the residents who were shooting in their direction. The child’s parents, Samrah Sampulna and Pananggulon Mamasalaaga were wounded as they tried to evacuate from their homes.

​Residents of sitio Inugog of barangay Tukanalipao were one in saying that while sleeping in their respective houses they were awakened by gunshots. In a nearby madrasah, Saada, a mute and a student of Mahad (Arabic studies) was hit by a bullet. Since then the students and the Arabic teachers have not resumed classes and residents remained evacuees because of fear that their community will again be assaulted.

​Meanwhile, in Tukanalipao proper, which is a few kilometers from the site of encounters, Amina Kamiron, 40 years old, was taking her bath when she heard loud gunshots. She was terribly shocked and fell on the floor. She was brought to hospital and still recuperating at the time of the Mission’s fact-finding activity. All of the residents of Tukanalipao were forced to evacuate from their homes on the morning of January 25, when SAF tanks stationed along the main road began firing indiscriminately on their houses. The Mission members were shown holes in their concrete houses supposedly caused by the gunshots from the tanks. All in all, an estimated 1,500 residents from different barangays hastily evacuated to nearby communities where they had relatives.

​The fact-finding Mission were also told by several residents along the highway in barangay Tuka that the SAF members stationed along the highway during the time of the encounters divested them of their properties. At four in the morning, Saneah Solaiman, 25, complained that SAF members divested her of her belongings—among others, three pots, cups, kettle and goods from her sarisari store.

​According to ARMM HEART (a program of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) P300,000 worth of farm crops were destroyed during the encounters, while more than a million pesos worth of properties were partially or fully damaged. Six (6) houses were partially damaged.

​Faced with all these multi-layered investigations—from public officials in the halls of Congress to initiatives by well-intentioned people on the ground—the facts and information gathered would show the ugly face of war. And because of the disparity of interests by the various personalities and groups involved, it is doubtful if we can go to the bottom of the and ferret out the real truth.

​One incontrovertible fact stands out. Grief—grief on the part of the widows and families left behind by the fallen SAF and grief and misery on the side of the residents of communities affected by the encounters. Grief will enshroud all data and statistics that may be collected by all these investigations, because grief resides not in the Q & A raised by brilliant legislators and clever resources persons, nor by the arguments of glib-tongued public officials and their bagpipes. Grief—its extent and intensity beyond measure— will always be in the heart and soul, no matter the avowals of justice and succor for the loss of a beloved or the demolition of a future. Grief has no boundary. It is not confined to the events of the Mamasapano, neither to the funeral rites, nor to the final outcome of the investigations. Not even Time is a warranty of its healing and dissipation. For as long as the heart throbs it remembers and feels the pain.

​It is well for us to consider the pains of all who are affected by the tragedy in the same manner that we probe into the whys and wherefores of the incident. If it is impossible at this juncture to pinpoint the primary culprits because of historical circumstances, such as master-puppet relations, executive agreements, and foreign interventionist policies, we can not just be acquiescent and rest our guard. The arduous trek to justice and truth must continue.

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