Romualdez: Aquino game implied stand-down order | Inquirer News
MINORITY REPORT

Romualdez: Aquino game implied stand-down order

/ 02:50 AM February 03, 2016

THE INDEPENDENT Minority Bloc (IMB) of the House of Representatives Tuesday issued an executive report that claimed that President Aquino had issued a “stand down order” in the Mamasapano carnage.

Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, a senatorial candidate, said that while it was “unspoken,” it was clear from the “actuations” of the President, his Cabinet members, and police and military officials who were with him in Zamboanga City on Jan. 25, 2015, “that there was a stand down order at the height of the firefight and eventually an elaborate effort to cover up the monumental offenses committed.”

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The lawmaker, who is the IMB leader, noted that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, now the administration presidential candidate, were with Mr. Aquino on that fateful day.

Romualdez pointed out that Mr. Aquino’s order for the military to stand down could be surmised from the latter’s “actuations” hours before the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers were killed during a firefight with Moro rebels in Mamasapano,

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In last week’s Senate hearing on the Mamasapano incident, Cabinet officials and top officials of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines vehemently denied any order from Mr. Aquino to stand down.

Successful operation

The order had supposedly stopped the military from sending reinforcements to the hapless SAF troopers, who were already surrounded by Moro rebels and bandits at a cornfield in Mamasapano following a successful operation to neutralize suspected terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

“Maybe you can visit the phrase or the words ’plausible deniability’ which, you know, (refers to a situation where) you get pinned down in a corner (but then) you can always say you never gave an order,” said Romualdez.

“That’s what is commonly used in these kinds of dicey situations,” the lawmaker added.

Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan Romualdez, for his part, said that as early as 7:00 a.m. on Jan. 25, 2015, the President and his men were already informed that there was a firefight, and that there were efforts to tap the ceasefire mechanism to stop the fighting.

“While they were in Zamboanga there was not even an effort on the part of anybody to ask for a fly-over for the members of the 55th SAF company who were even texting their relatives. Nobody came and then they were telling us they were just waiting for orders. There was even a helicopter on standby. If you take all of these things together, (you can surmise that) there was really a stand down order as far as we are concerned,” said De la Cruz.

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‘Ultimately responsible’

De la Cruz said that the President was “ultimately responsible” for the death of the 44 SAF commandos because he could have made an urgent appeal to Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Murad Ibrahim to stop the slaughter of the troopers.

De la Cruz said that the MILF also had blood on its hands because it coddled high value targets like Marwan while talking peace with government negotiators.

What made matters worse was the alleged efforts of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and Government Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer to allegedly cover up the botched mission as part of efforts to shield the President, his men and the MILF from any culpability, said De la Cruz.

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TAGS: Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, Mamasapano massacre, Marwan, Nation, News, SAF 44
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