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Aquino, not the MILF, to blame for death of SAF 44–militant group

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 11:51 AM January 31, 2015
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, wearing a black arm band, leaves the podium shortly after offering prayers for the police commandos killed last Sunday, during the Philippine's biggest single-day combat loss in recent years, at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig city, south of Manila, Philippines on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Aquino said Friday that he has ordered a hunt for the Filipino terror suspect who escaped the anti-terrorist operation that resulted in the killings of the 44 commandos. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, wearing a black arm band, leaves the podium shortly after offering prayers for the police commandos killed last Sunday, during the Philippine’s biggest single-day combat loss in recent years, at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig city, south of Manila, Philippines on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Aquino said Friday that he has ordered a hunt for the Filipino terror suspect who escaped the anti-terrorist operation that resulted in the killings of the 44 commandos. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines–It’s President Benigno Aquino III–not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)–who should be held responsible for the deaths of 44 police commandos in a clash in Maguindanao last week, a party-list group said Saturday.

The militant Anakpawis group said it was the President’s actions that led to the tragic end of the Special Action Force (SAF) men, who entered MILF territory in a clandestine operation to arrest two international terrorists.

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Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, in a statement, said Aquino deliberately held back details about the operation in a televised address last week, including the role of suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and United States military forces.

“[His] bypassing of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director Leonardo Espina… is a proof of incompetent leadership and contempt of public governance,” the lawmaker said.

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Hicap said it appeared from news reports that only Aquino, Purisima, and the US military forces were aware of the SAF operation, and “thus, this collusion is the root cause of the deaths of the victims.”

He noted that one of the two SAF targets was the Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli Abdhir, or “Marwan,” who was listed on Federal Bureau of Investigation list of Most Wanted Terrorists.

Marwan was reportedly killed in the SAF operation, but the other target, the Filipino Basit Usman, commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, escaped.

“It is clear the US is interested in Marwan, and Aquino has declared the mission to be sensitive, top secret.  Hence, we want to know from Aquino whether it is own decision to make this a secret or was it
ordered by the US,” Hicap said.

Anakpawis also cautioned the public from laying the blame for the soldiers’ death on the MILF, with whom the government forged a peace agreement last year to end years of rebellion.

“We should recognize the basis of their struggle that led to the peace process.  The PNP-SAF incursion to MILF territory was Aquino’s order, thus, [with] him lies the responsibility,” Hicap said.

“If we are to oppose the peace process, it would only serve as justification for Aquino to launch a total war against the MILF which would even lead to more deaths,” Hicap said.

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TAGS: Anakpawis, Benigno Aquino III, blame game, Fallen 44, Fernando Hicap, Maguindanao clash, Mamasapano, Marwan, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, SAF, SAF 44, Special Action Force
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