BOI ‘unfair’ in saying Pangilinan prioritized peace process, says AFP chief
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry was “unfair” to say that Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, put primacy on the peace process after he decided not to fire artillery to beleaguered Special Action Force troops in Mamasapano in Maguindanao.
“We are denying that kasi hindi nga iyan pinag-usapan din (because that’s not being discussed too). Ang inaano nga is yung doctrine on how to deliver fire. That’s why I thank the Senate report that naiintindihan nila (they understand),” Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. said on Wednesday.
“Kung nagkamali po yung pagpapaputok (If the ones who would have fired the shots missed the right target) because of only one coordinate eh baka nagkalagas lagas yung katawan ng mga SAF (the bodies of the SAF could have been shattered),” he added.
The military was criticized for delayed reinforcements to the SAF troops. The bungled mission killed 44 elite police officers, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and five civilians.
Days after the incident last January, Catapang himself said they did not join the clashes because of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.
“The MILF [was] surprised why there was a firefight going on and they thought all the while they were being attacked because of the miscoordination or no coordination at all…The Armed Forces [could not] join the firefight because of the ceasefire agreement. That will destroy the entire ceasefire agreement and that will be like a bushfire that will spread up to Lanao and the entire peace talks with our Muslim brothers will fail,” Catapang said then at the Security Reform Initiative’s Bantay Bayanihan at UP Diliman.
Catapang also confirmed the US involvement in the operation as stated in the Senate draft report on the Mamasapano incident.
It was mentioned in the report that an American ordered Pangilinan to fire artillery during the operation but the general refused and said: “Do not dictate me what to do. I am the commander here!”
“Sa closed door [executive session] po yun napag usapan. Nangyari po yun (It happened),” Catapang said.
With the BOI and Senate findings, the AFP chief said it was time to move on from the incident.
“Well I think it is time for us to move on. Nandyan na yung report, mga kailangan gawin (The report is already there, what must be done), mga recommendation. Bigyan natin ng pansin kung kinakailangan (Let’s focus on what’s needed) but we have to move on. You know we’re doing this in honor of the Galang 44. We are continuously operating. We do not want that their deaths will just become a history…We are doing everything to bring to justice to their deaths,” he said.
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