SAF man who survived Mamasapano clash stresses all-out war not the answer
MANILA, Philippines–A member of the Special Action Force (SAF) Seaborne who took part in the Mamasapano operation that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan on Thursday made a call for peace and urged people to abandon “demands for an all-out war.”
The petition is for the pursuit of the peace process in Mindanao with the hashtag “fightforpeace” (#FightForPeace).
The SAF commando withheld his identity for security reasons, instead using the pseudonym “Jason Navarro” in the online petition.
The commando uploaded his petition on the global online platform, Change.org, at 7 a.m. In nine hours, it has received 326 supporters.
“The true face of war is not that dead soldier or rebel on the battlefield. It is a mother fleeing home with a cartload of offspring, amid sounds of gunfire,” the SAF commando said in his petition that can be seen on Change.org/CommandoCallsForPeace.
“I was part of January 25 Mamasapano operation to capture the terrorist Marwan. For security reasons I have to withhold my identity. I am a Special Action Force (SAF) officer. I lost 44 of my comrades and was wounded in battle. I will carry physical and emotional scars for life,” he wrote, stressing:
“Even so, I grieve to hear demands for ‘all-out war.’ For I, too, am a child of Mindanao. In childhood, I watched the flight of thousands of people from nearby towns. Entire families desperately seeking safe haven, war having obliterated their communities.”
“I wrote this petition to give voice to the many who share my belief in peace. I write for the countless mothers who have seen offspring sacrificed to war. No mother wants to see her child with a gun, not even when their husbands are warriors. Mothers and children suffer the most. No prize, no victory will ease their pain. War does not distinguish among faiths. War snuffs out lives – Filipino lives,” the SAF trooper said.
The Inquirer met the police commando through former journalist and now Change.org senior campaigner Christine Roque a few days before he put together his petition and uploaded it on the site.
At that meeting, the SAF commando narrated how he saw women and children fleeing the village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao as the gun battle on Jan. 25 intensified.
As he and his fellow Seaborne ran through the cornfields, as armed men pursued them, the commando remembered gesturing at the villagers with one hand while the other held on to his firearm.
He was telling them to run and seek cover.
“I couldn’t forget their worried faces. There was a mother pulling a carabao with a wagon where her children sat with their belongings,” the commando said.
As the saber rattling in Manila became more pronounced in the Senate investigation, the media, and on Facebook, the commando said the villagers he saw in the cornfields filled his mind—the women, the children.
“It is them whom I want to protect,” the commando told the Inquirer.
In college, he said, his Muslim friends were forced to skip classes several times because they had to attend to their families who had to flee the fighting and settle in evacuation centers.
Their lives had been so disrupted, the commando said.
The commando also stressed that if the public wants justice for the SAF 44, all-out war is not the answer.
“That will only give their families temporary justice. The families whose loved ones will be killed in that war will also demand for justice. It will be, as it is now, a never-ending cycle,” the commando said.
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