Close  

FULL TEXT President Aquino’s nationwide address on Mamasapano clash

/ 08:27 PM January 28, 2015

Pahayag ng
Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III
Pangulo ng Pilipinas
Ukol sa insidente sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao

[Inihayag sa Palasyo ng Malacañan noong ika-28 Enero 2015]

ADVERTISEMENT

Mga kababayan, Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat.

Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon upang iulat ang ating nalalaman ukol sa nangyari sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao, nitong nakaraang Sabado at Linggo. Ginagawa po natin ito hindi upang pangunahan ang board of inquiry na itinalaga upang tuklasin ang buong katotohanan, kundi dahil karapatan ninyong malaman ang alam natin sa puntong ito.

FEATURED STORIES

Noong Sabado ng gabi, ika-24 ng Enero, isang grupo ng mga kasapi ng Special Action Force ng ating Philippine National Police ay tumungo sa Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Ang kanilang misyon, ipatupad ang mga outstanding warrants of arrest sa dalawang notorious na teroristang matagal nang pinaghahanap ng mga awtoridad: Sina Abdulbasit Usman at Zulkipli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan. Sa pagtupad ng kanilang tungkulin, 44 sa ating mga pulis ang napatay, habang 16 naman ang sugatan, kabilang na ang 3 sibilyan, ayon sa huling tala ng ating NDRRMC.

Bilang Pangulo, bilang Ama ng Bayan, napakalungkot pong isipin na kinailangang magbuwis ng buhay ng ating kapulisan sa misyong ito. At kung mayroon nga pong depinisyon ang bayani, sila na iyon: Silang mga humarap sa panganib upang pigilan ang banta sa ating kaligtasan; silang mga nasugatan; silang naghandog ng buhay sa ngalan ng kapayapaan. Bilang paggalang sa mga ng mga nasawi, magdedeklara tayo ng isang National Day of Mourning bilang sagisag ng pagdadalamhati at pakikiramay ng ating buong bansa.

READ: MILF urged to explain role in bloody clash

Hindi po pangkaraniwang kriminal sina Marwan at Usman. Mayroong mahabang listahan ng mga warrant laban sa kanila; kay Usman pa lang po, mayroon nang di-bababa sa walong outstanding warrant, habang may di naman bababa sa dalawa kay Marwan. 2002 po ang isa sa mga pinakamaaga rito, kaya’t ang ibig sabihin, Congressman pa lang ako ay pinaghahanap na sila. Lilinawin ko lang po: Kapag may warrant laban sa isang tao, bawat alagad ng batas ay tungkuling ipatupad ito. Kaya nga po, dati pa, marami nang mga operasyon para madakip o subukang madakip sina Marwan at Usman, pati na ang iba pang terorista, ang isinigawa ng iba’t ibang sangay ng security sector, kabilang na ang AFP, PNP, at NBI.

Hindi sa bawat pagkakataon ay hinihiling nila ang pahintulot ko, dahil impraktikal naman kung hintayin pa nila ang clearance mula sa akin. Ang tungkulin ko: siguruhing ginagampanan nila ang kanilang responsibilidad. May pagkakataon naman pong inaakyat nila sa atin ang sitwasyon para makapagbigay tayo ng payo, tingnan sa malawak na pananaw ang sitwasyon, o ipaliwanag ang maaaring maging implikasyon nito.

Halimbawa po nito ang pagtugon sa rogue MNLF elements sa Zamboanga, ang paghuli sa pinakamatataas sa ating listahan ng Most Wanted Persons, o ang paglusob sa ating mga peacekeeper sa Golan Heights. Sa kaso po ng Golan Heights, hindi naman puwedeng ang battalion commander lamang doon ang magdedesisyon sa kanilang pag-alis. Bilang may pangunahing responsibilidad sa ating ugnayang panlabas, kinailangan tayong abisuhan upang masigurong natututukan pati ang ating mga obligasyon sa United Nations.

READ: Slain SAF’s son wants to be a policeman also

ADVERTISEMENT

Bahagi po si Marwan ng Central Committee ng Jemaah Islamiya, na nagsagawa ng Bali bombing sa Indonesia. Dito, dalawang magkasunod na pagsabog ang nangyari, kaya’t tinamaan pati ang first responders at iba pang hindi umalis. 202 katao ang nasawi dito, at suspek po si Marwan dito. Sa Cagayan de Oro noong 2012, tinangka ni Marwan na gayahin ang modus na ito; nadiskubre ang pangalawang bomba kaya’t hindi ito sumabog, ngunit dalawang katao pa rin po ang nasawi sa pangyayaring ito. May alegasyon na noong 2006, kasama ni Umbra Kato, pinamunuan ni Marwan ang pagtatanim ng bomba upang pagtangkaan ang buhay ng gobernador ng Maguindanao noong panahon na iyon na si Andal Ampatuan. Dahil miyembro si Marwan ng international terrorist networks, na may koneksiyon sa iba pang mga grupong terorista, siya ay may kakayahang kumuha ng kaalaman, kagamitan, salapi, dagdag pa sa paglikha ng safe havens para sa mga kapwa niya terorista. Ito ang dahilan kung kaya’t itinuring siyang pangunahing target ng operasyon. Iniuugnay naman si Usman sa siyam na insidente ng pambobomba sa Mindanao. Siya ang pangunahing akusado sa pambobomba sa General Santos City noong 2002, kung saan 15 ang namatay at 60 ang nasugatan.

Kasama ang isa pang terorista na ang ngalan ay Mawiyah, sina Marwan at Usman ang nagsagawa ng terorismo sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Mindanao. Kilala ring trainer ng paggawa ng bomba ang dalawang ito. May mga ulat pong mayroon silang pagawaan ng mga improvised explosive device, na siya nilang ibinebenta sa mga kapwa nila terorista. Marami na silang nasaktan at napatay, at habang malaya sila, patuloy ang banta laban sa kaligtasan ng ating mamamayan.

Ididiin ko lang po: Sa Article II, Section 4 ng Saligang Batas, nakasaad na “The primary duty of government is to serve and protect the people.” Kaya nga po, nang nalaman ng ating kapulisan ang tutok na lokasyon nina Marwan at Usman, nagdesisyon silang kumilos upang ipatupad ang mga warrant sa mga ito. Actionable intelligence po ang nakalap ng ating mga awtoridad: Hindi lamang rehiyon, o probinsiya, o munisipyo ang natukoy nila, kundi ang mismong mga bahay na pinagtataguan ng dalawa. Kung hindi aaksiyunan ang kaalamang ito, maaaring makatakas sina Marwan at Usman, at kakailanganin na namang simulan ang mahabang proseso ng paghahanap sa kanila.

READ: Gov’t peace adviser calls for calm, sobriety over Maguindanao clash

Pasado alas-4 ng umaga ng Linggo nang umabot ang Special Action Force sa kutang pinagtataguan nina Marwan at Usman. Sa nangyaring engkuwentro, diumano’y napatay ang pangunahing target na si Marwan. Nang marinig ang putukan, nanlaban naman si Usman at ang kanyang mga kasamahan.  May mga non-combatants na nakita sa mga tirahan nina Marwan at Usman; kinailangan talagang dikitan sila ng ating mga puwersa para maiwasang madamay ang inosente. Unang inatake ang bahay ni Marwan; rumesponde naman sina Usman at nawala ang element of surprise na siyang magpapahirap na matupad ang kanilang misyon. Kaya naman, minabuti ng SAF na umatras at makipag-rendezvous sa mga kasamahan nilang nagbabantay ng kanilang daraanan papalabas sa lugar ng engkuwentro. Lumalabas pong sa withdrawal na ito nangyari ang pinakamadugong bahagi ng sagupaan.

Gaya po ng marami, may mga katanungan din ako ukol sa insidente, kaya inaasahan natin na mahahanap ng binuong board of inquiry ang katotohanan ukol sa insidenteng ito. Sa mga briefing na ibinigay sa akin ng PNP ukol sa continuing operation laban kina Marwan at Usman, makailang ulit kong idiniin ang pangangailangan ng tama, sapat, at napapanahong koordinasyon. Kumplikado ang sinasabi ngang terrain sa operasyong ito: ‘Yung mismong lupa maputik, may mga swampland, marshes, at kailangang tumawid ng ilog upang marating ang destinasyon ng ating SAF. Maraming mga puwersang nagkalat sa lugar na ito: Nariyan ang BIFF, MILF, at mayroon pang Private Armed Group. Kahit pa ba magkahiwalay na ang MILF at BIFF, marami sa kanila ang magkakamag-anak sa dugo o sa pag-aasawa. Hindi basta-basta maaaring pumasok ang mga estranghero. Kailangang tahimik at dahan-dahan ang pagpasok ng ating mga tropa; kung hindi, maaaring maalerto ang kanilang mga target.

Lalo pa’t dahil hindi kalakihan ang puwersa ng SAF kumpara sa mga nakapaligid na maaaring makialam, mahalagang nakaantabay ang Sandatahang Lakas upang maiposisyon nito ang mga tropa, kasangkapan, at kagamitan tulad ng mga kanyon kung sakaling kailanganin ng suporta ng ating kapulisan. Kailangan po nila ng sapat na panahon upang mailagay ang kanilang puwersa sa kung saan ito pinakamakakatulong. At sa ganitong klaseng bakbakan, kung kakailanganin ng ayuda mula sa Sandatahang Lakas, hindi ora mismo ay makakarating ito, lalo pa’t may iba’t ibang mga tungkulin ang mga kasapi ng 6th Infantry Division na siyang pinakamalapit sa aksiyon.

READ: Aquino declares National Day of Mourning for slain elite cops

Sa paulit-ulit kong pagpapaalala sa pangangailangan ng koordinasyon, ang isinagot po sa akin ng direktor ng SAF, “Yes Sir.” Ang sabi lang niya, kailangan din ng operational security, o ang pagsigurong ang dapat lang makaalam ang masasabihan ukol sa operasyon. Gayumpaman, idiniin kong kailangan pa ring ialerto ang ibang mga sangay o ang kanilang mga hepe; kailangan nasa tamang oras ang abiso, at kumpleto ang impormasyon, para makapaghanda nang maayos.

Tanong ko: Bakit at paano nga po kaya nangyari na malapit na sa jump-off o naka-jump-off na, nang sinabihan ang batalyon ng AFP na malapit sa operasyon? Ang problema po dito, nagkalat sa iba’t ibang lugar ang mga sundalong kasapi ng batalyong ito na nagbabantay sa main supply route sa lugar na ito. Sa madaling salita, dikit na sa oras ng engkuwentro ang abiso, at mahirap masabi kung nagkaroon ng sapat na panahon upang ihanda ang ayuda kung kakailanganin. Kung may compliance pong nangyari sa atas kong siguruhing may sapat na koordinasyon, parang sinagad po itong very minimum compliance. Nagulat nga po akong malaman na ang pinuno ng Western Mindanao Command, o maski ng 6th Infantry Division, ay tila naabisuhan lamang matapos ang unang engkuwentro laban kina Marwan at Usman; palabas na ang puwersa ng SAF, at nagkakaroon na ng problema sa puntong ito.

Sa panig naman po ng MILF: Napakalaki na ang mga hakbang na nagawa natin dahil nagtiwala tayo sa isa’t isa. Napatunayan natin na kaya nating magtulungan: Noong 2014, isang Japanese national ang nailigtas sa Maguindanao; sa taon ding iyon, napigilan ang pagpapasabog ng isang bomba sa Maguindanao din. Nabasa ko rin po ang pahayag ni Chairman Al Haj Murad ukol sa insidente sa Mamasapano; magandang unang hakbang ang pagbubuo nila ng isang Special Investigative Commission upang matukoy ang mga detalye at katotohanan ng pangyayari. Inaasahan kong sa lalong madaling panahon, mas kongkretong patunay ng pakikiisa sa paghahabol ng kapayapaan ang ipapakita ng MILF, tungo sa paghahabol ng katotohanan, at sa pagpapanagot sa mga may kasalanan.

READ: MILF to probe massacre of SAF men

Iwasan na rin po sana ng lahat ang pagkakalat ng haka-haka ukol sa mga pangyayari. Ang sabi nga po sa bibliya: The truth shall set us free. Mayroon na pong board of inquiry na itinalaga upang makalap ang buong katotohanan. Abangan na lamang po natin ang resulta nito.

Napakalayo na po ng ating narating tungo sa kapayapaang matagal na nating minimithi para sa Mindanao. Ibayong tiwala po ang ipinamalas ng lahat ng panig upang maabot ang puntong ito. Sa nangyaring insidente sa Mamasapano, mayroon na pong mga nagsasamantala ng trahedya para mabawasan ang tiwala; nais nilang mabigo ang proseso ng pangkapayapaan. Mayroon na nga rin pong nagmumungkahing itigil ang pagsulong ng Bangsamoro Basic Law sa Kamara at Senado.

Hindi po dapat mangyari ito. Nakataya sa batas na ito ang buong peace process. Kung mabibigo ang pagpasa ng batas sa lalong madaling panahon, mabibigo ang peace process, mananatili ang status quo. Kung ganoon, ano pa ba ang aasahan natin kundi pareho ring resulta: Mga taumbayang nawawalan ng pag-asa at namumundok; mga napagkaitan ng hustisya na pinipiling gumawa ng karahasan sa kapwa. Para na po nating tinulungan sina Marwan at Usman na maabot ang kanilang mga layunin. Gusto po ba nating bumalik sa punto kung kailan palaging nakahanda ang mga komunidad na tumakbo sa mga evacuation center, dahil palaging may banta ng putukan? Kung ganoon ang mangyayari, sino ang makikinabang? Kung mabibigo ang prosesong pangkapayapaan, ilang libingan pa kaya ang kakailanganin nating hukayin? Ilang bata pa kaya ang iidolohin ang mga tulad ni Marwan; ilan pa ang gugustuhing maging Usman; ilang inhinyero pa ang pipiling gumawa ng bomba, kaysa magtayo ng gusali?

Isipin din po natin: Ang mga kasapi ng Special Action Force ay nasawi habang tinutupad ang kanilang tungkuling panatilihin ang kaligtasan. Kung hindi magtatagumpay ang prosesong pangkapayapaan; kung babalik tayo sa status quo, o kung lalala pa ang karahasan, di ba’t ito mismo ang kabaliktaran ng kanilang pinagbuwisan ng buhay?

READ: Moro rebels said to be harboring foreign terrorists

Di po ba: Sa hinaharap nating hamon upang maisulong ang kapayapaan, lalo pa tayong dapat magkapit-bisig, at lalo pa dapat nating ituloy ang mga susunod na hakbang tulad ng pagpapasa ng Bangsamoro Basic Law; ang pagbubuo ng Bangsamoro Transition Authority; pagpapalawak ng oportunidad sa lahat; at pagwawasto sa sistema ng pulitika kung saan may iilang nakikinabang sa kapahamakan ng napakarami nating kababayan.

Sa mga pamilya naman po ng mga nasawing kasapi ng Special Action Force: Damang-dama ko ang pinagdaraanan ninyong dalamhati. Alam ko ring maaaring may katuwang itong agam-agam para sa inyong kinabukasan, lalo na kung tumatayo na breadwinner ang kaanak ninyong nagsakripisyo para sa operasyong ito. Sinisiguro ko po sa inyo: Ibibigay ng estado ang sagad na maaari nitong ibigay ayon sa mga batas at patakaran. Sa pagkakataon pong ito, diretso kong pinapakiusapan ang publiko na kung puwede po ay magbigay din tayo ng ayuda, at isagad ang pagtulong sa mga pamilya ng nasawi, bilang pagkilala sa kadakilaan ng mga bayaning nag-alay ng buhay tungo sa minimithi nating kapayapaan.

Sa harap ng ating pagluluksa, sa harap ng mga pagnanasa ng ilang bumawi at maghiganti, sa harap ng bantang magiba ang tiwalang pinanday natin sa napakahabang panahon, ngayon, sinusubok ang kakayahan nating magpamalas ng ibayong malasakit sa ating kapwa. Kaya nga po, sa lahat ng kapwa kong nag-aasam ng kapayapaan, mula sa mga mambabatas, sa mga kasapi ng unipormadong hanay, sa mga pinuno at kasapi ng MILF, sa mga kababayan natin sa Bangsamoro, sa bawat disenteng Pilipino: Ipakita natin kung ano ang kayang abutin ng isang bansang binubuklod ng nagkakaisang adhikain. Siguruhin nating hindi masasayang ang sakripisyo ng mga nasawing kasapi ng Special Action Force. Mararating natin ang katarungan, harinawa, sa loob ng tamang proseso, at nang hindi bumibitaw sa mga pangarap nating makamtan ang malawakan at pangmatagalang kapayapaan.

Maraming salamat po, at magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat.

President Benigno Aquino Nationwide Address Mamasapano Maguindanao Clash Wordcloud

National Address of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
On the incident at Mamasapano, Maguindanao

[This is the English translation of the speech delivered in Malacañan Palace on January 28, 2015]

I stand before you today to report on what we know about the incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Saturday and Sunday. I do this not because I wish to preempt the board of inquiry tasked to uncover the entire truth, but because you have a right to know what we know at this point.

On Saturday, January 24, a group composed of members of our Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force headed to Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Their mission was to serve outstanding arrest warrants to two notorious terrorists who have long been pursued by authorities, namely Abdulbasit Usman and Zulkipli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan. According to the most recent report of the NDRRMC, 44 of our policemen died in the process of fulfilling their duties, while 16 others were injured, including 3 civilians.

As President and as father of this country, I am greatly saddened that our policemen had to lay down their lives for this mission. Without question, these people are heroes; they who willingly put themselves in danger to address threats to our security; they who were wounded; they who gave their lives in the name of peace. To honor those who perished, I am declaring a National Day of Mourning to symbolize the sorrow and empathy of our entire country.

Marwan and Usman are not common criminals. There is a long string of outstanding warrants for their arrest. There are no less than 8 outstanding warrants against Usman alone, while there are no less than 2 for Marwan. One of the earliest warrants was issued in 2002, which means that they were already being pursued when I was a member of Congress. Allow me to clarify: When a warrant is issued against an individual, all officers of the law are obligated to serve it. This is precisely why, since long ago, our security sector, including the AFP, PNP, and NBI, has undertaken multiple operations to capture Marwan, Usman, and other terrorists.

READ: Espina: PNP unaware of SAF operation, to probe lapses; SAF commander sacked

These agencies are not always required to obtain my approval for each and every one of their operations, because it would be impractical for them to wait for my clearance before proceeding. My duty: to make certain that they are carrying out their responsibilities. There are times when certain matters are elevated to my desk so that I may give guidance, give a more holistic view of the situation, or explain its wider implications.

A few examples of this are: our response to rogue MNLF elements in Zamboanga, the capture of individuals high on our list of Most Wanted Persons, and the assault on our peacekeepers in Golan Heights. In the Golan Heights case, the decision of whether or not to depart could not simply be left to our battalion commander there. As the person primarily responsible for foreign relations, I had to be consulted to make certain that we are likewise upholding our obligations to the United Nations.

Marwan is part of the Central Committee of the Jemaah Islamiya, which was responsible for the Bali bombing in Indonesia. In this incident, two consecutive blasts occurred, which meant that first responders and individuals who had not left the area were also affected. 202 people died, and Marwan was a suspect in this case. In Cagayan de Oro in 2012, Marwan attempted to replicate this modus; the second bomb did not explode, as it was discovered ahead of time, yet 2 people still died as a result of this incident. There are allegations that, in 2006, Marwan, along with Umbra Kato, led a plot to plant a bomb to assassinate then-Governor of Maguindanao, Andal Ampatuan. Marwan’s membership in international terrorist networks means that he has the capacity to acquire the knowledge, the equipment, the funding, and the necessary safe havens for his fellow terrorists. This is why he was considered the primary target of the operation. Usman, on the other hand, is connected to nine bombing incidents in Mindanao. He is the primary accused in the bombing in General Santos City in 2002, in which 15 people died, and 60 were injured.

Together with another terrorist named Mawiyah, Marwan and Usman committed several acts of terrorism in various parts of Mindanao. They are also both known bomb-making trainers. There are reports that they run factories of improvised explosive devices, which they sell to fellow terrorists. They have injured and killed many people, and they continue to threaten the safety of our citizens as long as they roam free.

READ: PNP-SAF killings: President Aquino pressed for answers

I emphasize: It is stated in Article II, Section 4 of our Constitution that “The primary duty of government is to serve and protect the people.” This is why, when our police force uncovered the precise location of Marwan and Usman, they decided to take action and serve the warrants of the two individuals. Our authorities gathered actionable intelligence. They found not just the region, the province, or the municipality, but the very house in which the two were hiding. Not acting on this knowledge would make it possible for Marwan and Usman to escape, which would mean that the long process of gathering information would have to start all over again.

It was past 4 in the morning when the SAF reached the stronghold in which Marwan and Usman were hiding. In the encounter that followed, the primary target, Marwan, was allegedly killed. Upon hearing the gunshots, Usman and his cohorts fought back. There were also non-combatants spotted in the houses in which Marwan and Usman were located; it was necessary for our forces to close the distance to avoid involving the innocent. Marwan’s house was the first attacked; Usman responded, and the element of surprise, which was necessary to avoid detection, was lost. This is why the SAF decided to withdraw and rendezvous with their companions, who were securing their exit route from the area where the encounter occurred. It appears that it was during this withdrawal when the bloodiest part of the clash happened.

READ: Solons urged to continue supporting BBL despite Maguindanao clash

Like so many others, I have many questions surrounding the incident, and I expect the board of inquiry to uncover the truth behind this incident. In the briefings the PNP gave me about the continuing operations against Marwan and Usman, I repeated countless times the need for proper, sufficient, and timely coordination. The terrain covered by this operation is complicated: muddy, with swampland, and there is even the need for our SAF to cross a river to reach their destination. There are also many other forces scattered in the area: the BIFF, MILF, and even a Private Armed Group. Even if the MILF and BIFF now constitute two different groups, many of them are related by blood or by affinity. Strangers cannot just enter their territory. Our troops needed to enter quietly and carefully; otherwise, their targets may have been alerted.

It is precisely because the forces of the SAF were much smaller than the surrounding numbers who could intervene that it was important for the Armed Forces to be ready to position their troops, resources, and equipment like cannons or artillery, should our police require support. They needed sufficient notice to place their troops where they would be of greatest assistance. In these kinds of encounters, had the assistance of the Armed Forces been necessary, they would not have been able to mobilize and arrive at a moment’s notice, especially because the members of the 6th Infantry Division, who were nearest to the action, have other duties.

READ: Military confirms Basit Usman manufacturing bombs in Maguindanao

To my repeated reminders about the necessity of coordination, the director of the SAF answered, “Yes Sir.” All that he said was that operational security, or the restriction of information only to those who needed to know, was likewise necessary. Even then, I underscored the need to alert other branches, or their respective heads; the notification must come at the appropriate time, with complete information, for them to make the necessary preparations.

I wonder: how and why could it have happened that the notification of the AFP battalions close to the operation only came close to the time of jump-off, or even after our forces had already jumped-off? The problem there was that the soldiers who were members of the battalion assigned to guard the main supply routes to this location were scattered in different areas. In simple language, the notification to the AFP came too close to the time of the encounter, thus making it difficult to determine if they were given enough time to prepare, had their assistance been necessary. If my order to ensure sufficient coordination had been complied with, then perhaps it was pushed to the limit, resulting in very minimum compliance. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the heads of the Western Mindanao Command, or even of the 6th Infantry Division, had only been advised after the first encounter involving Marwan and Usman; the SAF forces were already retreating, and the situation had already became problematic.

Now, on the MILF: We have already made such great strides because we trusted one another. We have already proven that we can work together: in 2014, a Japanese national was rescued in Maguindanao; in that same year, we were able to prevent the explosion of a bomb in Maguindanao. I have also read the statement of Chairman Al Haj Murad about the Mamapasano incident; the MILF’s formation of a Special Investigative Commission in order to determine the details of the incident constitutes a good first step. I am hopeful that the MILF will show, in the soonest possible time, even more concrete evidence of their solidarity in the pursuit of peace, towards the pursuit of truth, and the accountability of those responsible.

Let us also avoid spreading rumors and fueling speculation about the incident. The Bible itself says: The truth shall set us free. There is already a board of inquiry assigned to uncover the whole truth. Let us wait for the results of their findings.

READ: AFP on terrorist previously thought dead: ‘We will get him’

We have already come such a long way in our quest to realize the peace that we have long desired for Muslim Mindanao. All sides exhibited great trust to reach this point. The incident in Mampasano has already given rise to those who want to take advantage of this tragedy to undermine that trust; they wish to derail the peace process. There are even some already calling for a halt to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This should not happen. The success of the entire peace process is contingent on this law. If this law is kept from being passed at the soonest possible time, the peace process will be derailed; the status quo will remain. If that happens, we cannot hope for anything but the same results: Citizens who take to the mountains after losing hope; individuals kept from gaining justice who instead choose to exact violence on their fellowmen. It would be as if we helped Marwan and Usman to reach their goals. Do we want to return to the point when communities are ready, at a moment’s notice, to flee to evacuation centers, because of the threat of an encounter? If this were to happen, who would benefit? If the peace process were derailed, how many more graves would we have to dig? How many more children will idolize Marwan; how many will want to grow up to be Usman; how many engineers will choose to build bombs rather than buildings?

Let us also remember: The members of the SAF lost their lives while fulfilling their duty to maintain the peace. If the peace process fails, if we return to the status quo, or if the violence were to worsen, is this not the exact opposite of the cause to which they gave their lives?

Is it not true: In facing this challenge, in order to realize peace, should we not link arms more tightly, and pursue with greater determination the next steps in the process, like passing the BBL; forming the Bangsamoro Transition Authority; widening opportunities for all; and correcting a political system where a few benefit to the detriment of the majority of our countrymen?

READ: Bangsamoro law support in Congress suffers setback

To the families of the SAF members who perished: I fully sympathize with your grief. I know that this grief may be accompanied by worries about your future, especially if your loved ones who sacrificed their lives were also your breadwinners. I guarantee: The state will give the maximum assistance it can, within the limits of the laws and rules. On this occasion, I also take the opportunity to appeal to the public: If possible let us extend our utmost support to the bereaved, and maximize the help we can give to the families of those who fell, in recognition of the valor of these heroes who gave their lives for the realization of the peace we have long desired.

In the face of our grief, in the face of the desire of some to exact revenge, in the face of the threats to destroy the trust we have forged over such a long period of time, today, our ability to show compassion to our fellowmen faces a great test. This is why, to all of my countrymen who desire peace, from lawmakers, to the members of the uniformed forces, to the leaders of the MILF, to our countrymen in the Bangsamoro, and to every decent Filipino: Let us show what heights a country united by a single aspiration can reach. Let us ensure that the ultimate sacrifice made by some members of the SAF does not go to waste. We will gain justice, in time, through the right processes, and without letting go of our dreams to realize a widespread and lasting peace.

Thank you, and good evening to us all.

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Aquino, Bangsamoro, Benigno Aquino III, Government, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Mamasapano clash, MILF, Peace Talks, Police, SAF
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.