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Aquino attends plant inauguration as bodies of slain SAF men arrive in Manila

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Aquino attends plant inauguration as bodies of slain SAF men arrive in Manila

/ 11:32 AM January 29, 2015
Philippine police commandos carry the flag-draped coffins of their fallen comrades from C-130 planes shortly after arriving at a military base in Manila on January 29, 2015.  A long, slow procession of Philippine-flag-draped coffins poured out of military transport planes in Manila on January 29 as the country mourned dozens of policemen killed in a botched anti-terror operation.     AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Philippine police commandos carry the flag-draped coffins of their fallen comrades from C-130 planes shortly after arriving at a military base in Manila on January 29, 2015. A long, slow procession of Philippine-flag-draped coffins poured out of military transport planes in Manila on January 29 as the country mourned dozens of policemen killed in a botched anti-terror operation. AFP

MANILA, Philippines–As the nation watched three Air Force planes land in Villamor Airbase with the remains of 42 of the 44 elite cops killed in an encounter in Maguindanao, President Benigno Aquino III was in Laguna, attending the inauguration of a manufacturing plant.

Aquino on Thursday morning gave a speech at the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s new plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

In his speech, he vowed to assist the local automotive industry.

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The President also inspected the plant facilities, which includes a vehicle assembly line and welding shop.

That same morning, the Philippine National Police gave arrival honors to members of the Special Action Force (SAF) who died in what the government called a “misencounter” in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.

Initial reports said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were responsible for the deaths but Aquino, in his national address on Wednesday evening, said a board of inquiry he had formed has yet to establish the details.

PNP officials said they expected the President to be present at Villamor but he pushed through with his visit to Laguna.

READ: Bodies of 42 slain SAF men arrive at Villamor Air Base

No snub

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III addresses the nation in a live broadcast Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 from Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines. Aquino declared a National Day of Mourning on Friday for the 44 anti-terror police commandos allegedly killed in a clash with Muslim guerrillas in southern Philippines last Sunday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III addresses the nation in a live broadcast Wednesday night. AP

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte clarified that Aquino was not scheduled to attend the arrival honors. Instead, he will attend the necrological services for the slain policemen at Camp Bagong Diwa at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Valte pointed out that Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina were the ones who led the arrival honors.

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READ: Aquino did not snub arrival honors for slain cops – Palace

Nevertheless, netizens questioned Aquino’s absence. Some asked why he chose to spend the morning with businessmen instead of sympathizing with the families of the slain policemen.

Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon also criticized the President, saying his decision to visit a car factory “speaks volumes of the president’s lack of basic respect for his servicemen.”

Ridon called Aquino “cold,” “unfeeling” and “spineless” especially for a commander-in-chief.

On Wednesday evening, Aquino declared Friday a National Day of Mourning for the slain cops. He also blamed the SAF head, who has been relieved of his post, for not coordinating with the military. He vowed to find justice “through the right processes” but also rallied the people to continue to support the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law and the peace negotiations with the MILF.

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TAGS: automotive plant, Benigno Aquino III, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Mamasapano incident, Philippine National Police, PNP, SAF, Special Action Force, Villamor Airbase
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