Speech at the Rotary Club of the Philippines District 3820
Thank you for that very kind introduction. I would like to greet the officers and those who have been kind enough to invite me to your annual convention. The district governor Jojo de Guia Jr., the representative of Rotary International, the president’s representative, IPDG Kong Shiu Chen, the past and present district governors and I mean everybody from the PDGs, the DGGs, the PPs, the BCPs etc. as well as all the members of the Rotary Club District 3820 as well as their lovely Anns and handsome spouses here today. Other illustrious guest speakers with whom I am sharing the stage, esteemed guests and friends, ladies and gentlemen, magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat.
Maraming salamat po sa Rotary Club District 3820 sa inyong mainit na pagbati at pati na rin sa inyong pagkumbida sa inyong lingcod upang makasama kayong lahat sa inyong district conference sa taong 2015. Isang malaking karangalan sa akin ng makasama kayo sa umagang ito. Ito ay hindi lamang dahil sa aking kaalamang na katanyagan ng inyong grupo kundi na rin dahil sa kanyang malakas na impluwensiya at magandang reputasyon sa ating lipunan. Kaya naman minarapat ko sa kabila ng aking mahigpit na schedule na makahanap ng oras para samahan kayo sa inyong discon ngayon.
Having perused in advance the tentative program of the Discon provided to me by your organizers, I could not help but recall a very important issue that has recently occupied the minds and expended the energies not only of the Senate but also the rest of our country. I am referring of course to the bloody encounter between our PNP SAF and the MILF and other forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. In a moment of silence let us all remember the bravery and gallantry of our Fallen 44 SAF policemen. May God rest their souls as well as those of others that have perished in that same incident. A moment of silence please, ladies and gentlemen. (Silence). Thank you.
Paano ba naman na hindi ko maalala ang isyu na ito sa mga acronyms pa lang ng mga opisyal ng pinuno ng Rotary Club para bang déjà vu agad ang aking naramdaman. Halimbawa meron kayong DG, PDG, DDG, BCP, SD at kung ano ano pa na mga’t iba iba pang mga titulo. Dahil dito naalala ko tuloy ang mga sari saring personalidad na nakausap at narinig namin sa mga hearing ng senado tulad ng DG, director general at ng DDG, deputy director general at kung may SD kayo meron din silang suspended director general, sigurado na meron pa ring BCP, bypassed chief of police at higit sa lahat, sorry na lang, PDG naging palpak na director general. Kaya naman hindi ko mapigilang maisip na mapagusapan ang aming naging pagdinig sa senado tungkol dito sa nangyaring madugong enkwentro sa Mamasapano sa lalawigan ng Maguindanao.
But levity aside, as you have been reading in your newspapers and have been hearing from the news we have in the last four weeks, been conducting all kinds of hearings and investigations and inquiries into what happened in Mamasapano on January 25. And as the information has trickled out, and I say that I used those words particularly, because the information has trickled out. It has not been provided to us, it has been a difficult process in trying to find out the details as they have not been forthcoming. We have had to conduct hearings, we have had to call all kinds of officials to try and get their view and to try and form a complete picture. And what conclusions can we arrive at having done all of these hearings. Right now the senate hearings and inquiry on the Mamasapano massacre have been finished. We ended them this week and after that we are waiting now for the committee report of the committee on public order. However, there are already certain conclusions that we can arrive at. I come to this from a very particular position. As I was introduced, it was mentioned that I am the chairman of the committee on local government in the senate. That brings the entire issue of the Bangsamoro Basic Law before my committee because as you remember the Bangsamoro government is being organized as a regional government and therefore it is categorized as a local government. And as a local government it comes before my committee and that is why I have been hearing the BBL for very long time now. We have conducted hearings in Mindanao last year, we have continued to conduct hearings and we were planning to conduct further hearings in Jolo and Zamboanga before the terrible tragedy that occurred in Maguindanao. And so I had suspended all the hearings in the Senate on the BBL whilst we conducted the inquiry on the massacre in Maguindanao. And that is what we have done and as I have said although the official committee report has not yet been issued and is still in the process of being prepared, I think that specific to the BBL, never mind my particular focus, of course we are interested and curious and we need to know what happened between the PNP and the AFP, we need to know what happened with the MILF but of course in my view I always keep in the back of my mind, that we still have a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that needs to be studied and if necessary rewritten, amended so that the BBL will be a good one and will be part of the peace process that will actually bring true and lasting peace to Muslim Mindanao.
So what are the conclusions that we have come to. They are first of all, this has been a terrible tragedy, that it would seem, could have been avoided. Now it is not for us to point blame, it has never been my purpose in these hearings or even the conduct of the BBL to point blame or to somehow pick out an individual to be an scapegoat. What is my particular interest as a legislator is how we can use this terrible, terrible experience and learn the lessons from it so that this will never happen again. And that is why it is important that we study exactly what happened na kailangan malaman natin ang katotohanan ng sa ganun kung ano ba ang pagkukulang ng BBL, kung ano ba ang pagkukulang ng ating pamahalaan, kung ano ba ang pagkukulang ng magkabilang panig na nakikipagusap sa ating proseso ng kapayapaan ay kailangan natin malaman upang sa ganun Makita natin kung ano ang kailangan nating gawin nang maitiyak na hindi na mangyari ulit ang Mamasapano massacre. Kayat ito ang aming layunin na sa pagaaral at sa pagdinig sa mga pangyayari sa Mamasapano ay matutunan tayo at makikita natin kung ano ang mga pangangailangan, ano ang pagkukulang ng ating BBL upang sag anon pag naipasa na ito ay magiging isang matibay at makabuluhan na batas na nagtataguyod ng isang proseso, isang pamahalaan na local sa Muslim Mindanao na magdadala ng kapayapaan. And what are the conclusions that we can arrive at. The conclusions we can arrive at is first of all, there is blame enough for everybody and there have been many mistakes on both sides of the picture. What has been focused mostly in the hearings, and I’m sure that is what you have been seeing especially since we were televised live during the hearings and having sat in every single minute of those hearings, what are the conclusions that we can arrive at. Maliwanag na maliwanag na nagkakulang ng coordinasyon ang PNP at ng AFP. Paano nangyari ito. Madalas naman mag operasyon, mag mission ang PNP at AFP na magkasabay. Sila ay nagte training na magkasabay at bakit ngayon nangyari ito na naging magulo ang kanilang Koordinasyon at isa sa pinakamalungkot na nangyari sa aming pagdinig ay nakita namin ang ating mga uniformed services, ang PNP at AFP, na nagtuturuan at nagsisisihan at hindi kasi dapat ganyan ang mangyari. Dapat naman sila, they are members of the uniformed services and therefore they must be coordinated and they must work together and this kind of finger pointing that went on during the hearings is certainly for somebody like who feels, who considers themselves a great supporter of our uniformed services, it was a sad, sad sight and I hope that it is only a temporary situation that will soon be remedied. So why do I say that there is blame enough to be spread to everyone? Well, what was focused on during the hearings was the lack of coordination between the SAF-PNP and the AFP, dahil sinasabi nga na alam na nang lahat ang ibig sabihin nang TOT, time on target, na sinasabi yun ang naging procedure na sinundan ng SAF. Hindi naman problema itong Time on Target, a standard operating procedure. Nasa sa mga commander yan na mamili kung ito ang ating susundan na procedure o ibahin natin, anong klaseng coordination ang gagawin, etcetera. Ngayon, nagkagulo gulo ang coordination sa AFP at saka sa PNP dahil hindi nasundan ang chain of command. Bakit ko sinasabi? Maliwanag na maliwanag. General Alan Purisima was suspended by the Ombudsman dahil may kaso siya so suspendido siya. Ano ibig sabihin ng mga abogado sa inyo, ipaliwanag sa inyong mga kasamahan. Ang ibig sabihin ng suspended, you are suspended from performing your function, ibig sabihin hindi ka papasok sa trabaho, magbabakasyon ka bigla at aayusin mo na lang ang kaso mo para sagutin mo kung ano man ang mga alegasyon sa iyo. And that is what a suspended officer/official means. It is called preventive suspension specifically so that you are not able to use your position to somehow help your case, to somehow get in the way of the case that is being built against you and also to give yourself time to prepare that you have a case before you and that is what suspension means. So being involved in an operation, we now know it was called Oplan Exodus, was a clear violation of a suspension order that the Ombudsman had issued. Hindi talaga dapat hindi man siya pumapasok sa White House sa Camp Crame. Dapat hindi man siya nakikipagugnay sa mga opisyal. Dapat naman hindi siya sumasama sa mga briefing ngunit sa hearing natin maliwanag na maliwanag na sama siya. And that is where the confusion was between the AFP and the PNP. Sa dami dami ng ginagawang katwiran na sinasabi that the president did not know, that the president did not have perfect information, that is understandable. A president does not involve himself in the tactical decisions that are being made on the ground that belongs to the commander on the ground. In this case, General Napenas, it is up to him to make the decisions on what to do next, whatever happens. It is his decision as to what procedures to follow in the planning of Oplan Exodus. So of course, the president, even if he was perfectly informed and he just kept silent and said nothing, then that would still be proper because the president is not meant to be the ground commander. If you remember many years ago in Iran there was an attempt by American forces to go into Iran para kukunin nila yung kanilang mga hostage. Ang nangyari nagkadisgracia, nagkagulo ng husto, maraming namatay sumabog pa ang kanilang mga eroplano nakita sila ng mga kalaban at it was a complete failure. And what was the reason. Because, the president and his staffers in the White House e nakikialam doon sa takbo ng operation and that is why the principle of the ground commander being the singular decision maker when it comes to tactical decisions has been established. In this case that is part of the problem but that is not where the problem lies. The problem lies because the chain of command was not followed. In fact, not only was the chain of command not followed, but there was an alternative chain of command that was formed. That was the president, to Alan Purisima, the suspended chief PNP and then directly to Napenas. Nakaligtaan yata nila na meron silang acting Chief PNP, meron silang mga intelligence officers sa PNP, meron silang mga opisyal na dapat ay pinagsabihan at isama sa pagplano nitong operasyon na ito. Ano ngayon ang nangyari kung nasundan ang chain of command?” Maliwanag sa lahat ng opisyal ng pulis kung ano ang trabaho nila. May mission tayo, eto yung OPlan, alam ko dahil ako ang intelligence officer, ito ang gagawin ko. Ako, alam ko, dahil ako ang ground commander ito ang gagawin ko. At hindi na kailangang pagusapan yan dahil sOP na yan, standard operating procedure. And so had the chain of command been followed, everybody on that line of command would have known what to do and what their jobs were. What happened in Mamasapano? Hindi nag coordinate ang PNP at saka yung AFP. Hindi natungan ng AFP, noong naipit na ang mga SAF at silay napaligiran na ng mga opposition forces sila. Ang sinasabi naman ng SAF, madali namang pumasok dahil magagaling silang sundalo, magagaling silang tropa, kaya nilang pumasok kahit saan. And mahirap ay paanong lalabas dahil pagkapumasok sila magpuputukan na e nakita na sila, kailangang may magandang plano palabras, kailangan suportahan ang kanilang tinatawag na exfiltration (there is infiltration, there is exfiltration). Walang pulis, walang sundalo papasok sa isang mission na hindi maliwanang ang exfiltration na plano. And this is what happened. Dahil nga hindi nasundan ang chain of command, hindi na malaman ng mga opisyal kung ano ang kanilang dapat gawin. Sinabi pa noong meeting ni Gen. Napenas, ni Col. Mendez, Gen. Purisima at ng pangulo, ang sabi ni Alan Purisima sa kaniyang mga tauhan paglabas sa meeting, huwag niyo munang sabihan yung dalawa tinutukoy niya si Gen. Espina at saka si SILG Mar Roxas . Ako na ang bahala kay General Catapang, the chief of staff ng AFP. Ngayon ang pagkaintindi ni General Napenas ay siya na ang bahalang mag coordinate sa AFP at ito’y tinaggap niya dahil iba na ang patakbo ngayon, hindi yung usual na dati nating ginagawa. Kayat doon nagkaproblema. Because of the break in the chain of command, because of the establishment of an informal and undefined new chain of command, that is where the mis-coordination came out and that is where the problem was na sinasabi na hindi tumulong yung AFP. Yung AFP ginawa lahat ng kaya nilang gawin pero hindi nga naging maliwanag ang coordination. And that coordination is what caused the lives of 44 of our special action force –PNP members. That mis-[coordination came about because the chain of command was not followed. And that is why there is still a glaring question that is left here, why did the president allow such an informal, unknown and undefined chain of command to be followed. Why did we not go the usual route and go down and talk to the officers all the way down so that everyone who was involved knew what their jobs were. To this day, we have yet to hear the answer. We have yet to hear the explanation. It would be much easier for all of us if the president would stand up and speak out and tell the public, never mind legislators di na bali kaming mga senador at saka congressmen. Kailangan niyang tumayo at ipaliwanang sa taumbayan kung paano nangyari ito, bakit nila inisip na kailangan nilang palitan ang Sistema, bakit ayaw nilang sundan ang Sistema na naitaguyod ng ilang taon nan a nakikita naman natin ay effective at ito ang ating mga ginagamit. And so the country still to this day waits for that explanation, to know why this happened and what were the reasons for that decision, and to this day we still do not know. We tried to find out the reasons from secondhand information but the simplest way that we, when I say we I mean the country, will know is for the president to stand up and tell us exactly what he knows. We still await that statement from the president. So that is on the side of the PNP and AFP.
On the side now of the MILF to include also the BIFF and the so-called private armed groups na nasama doon sa pagpatay sa ating mga pulis, ang lumabas sa aming hearing, ay mga alas singko medya pa lang ng Sunday, the 15th of January, 4:30 nagpuputukan na e. Pumasok na, palabras na yung SAF. Mga 430 nagmamaneobra na sila pero hindi pa yung nangyari na nacorner na talagang basta’t pinagpapapatay na lang yung ating mga pulis, hindi pa yon wala pa tayo doon. Pero 530 pa lang tumatawag na yung ating mga AHJAG, or the adhoc joint action group, there are two sides to that meron MILF at merong Republic of the Philippines (GRP). Ang GRP AGJAG ay tumatawag na sa kaniyang counterpart 530 ng umaga pa lang. Ngayon ang actual ceasefire na nangyari alas kwatro ng hapon ng Sunday. Kayat that is close to 11 hours between the time the government of the Philippines tried to contact the MILF to institute a ceasefire until 4 o clock when the ceasefire actually happened. Yon ang naging malaking problema. In that close to 11 hours, 44, no let me include the MILF who were killed and the civilians, more than 60 people died in that 11 hours. We should not allow any situation like this to last for 11 hours because in 11 hours, the entire situation was finished. In fact, may sinasabi na kahit na may putukan pa after 4 o clock, noong nagpaputok ang Army ng kanilang artillery, tapos na nagalisan na lahat pati sa government side, pati sa MILF. BIFF at ibang armed group na side. Kayat ito ang aming sinusuri at aming pinagaaralan dahil kailangang kailangan na patibayin natin ang Sistema sa pag coordinate between the government of the Philippines at ng MILF aqt kahit sino pang grupo na kailanga maipaliwanag operation ito ng pulis. Ngayon ang isa pang tanong na lumabas ay yung prosesong yan, yung mekanismong yan ng ceasefire, by 1130 in the morning of Sunday, 25th of January, nakausap na nila yung what they call a joint action group which is part of the international monitoring team, nakapunta na sila at nakausap na nila yung commander nung MILF 105th na tinatawag doon sa base at nasabi na nila ang pinuputukan at kinakalaban at binabaril ninyo ay pulis yan, gobyerno yan kaya ceasefire na. As a matter of fact by 1231 pinaatras na ang pwersa natin and many of the troops especially the AFP had already withdrawn, the SAF were still in place, ngunit kahit hindi na sila lumalaban pinapuputukan pa rin sila ng kalaban. How did that happen? And these are the glaring questions that are left on that side. As I said there is enough blame, enough mistakes for everybody. We talked about the government side, now I am talking about the MILF side. How is it that it took 5 hours, after informing the MILF commander na ang kaharap nila at kinakalaban at nakikipagsabakan sila sa pwersa gobyerno, why did it take 5 hours? By 1 o clock , 2 o clock lahat nang apat na put apat patay na. So this is one thing that we have to study very well. As a matter of fact, ang aking binabalak dahil noong hearing doon sa public order nabigyan lang kaming mga senador ng tig lilimang minuto. The 5 minutes is not enough to really find out what the facts are, to try and find out where the mistakes were. In my mind, kahit na may mali, kahit meron nagkaligtaan gawin, may sinasabi o hindi na ka contact sa cellphone, dapat hindi maging dahilan yan para magkaroon ng massacre. The system has to be more robust, it has to be stronger so that even if there are individual mistakes, the system is strong enough to withstand individual mistakes and continue to be effective in providing the ceasefire for our troops, for our policemen. And that is where we are now, that is why I am planning to conduct hearings specifically on that. Siguro sa paglabas ng Board of Inquiry ng PNP. Hinahantay na rin natin ang Board of Inquiry ng MILF, hinahantay na rin natin ang committee report ni Senator Grace, yung kanyang report doon sa aming naging hearing and with that I will take that study it and we will then focus on those issues that are specific to the BBL. If anything good has come out of this terrible tragedy, it is now that the rest of the country is aware that this issue is not an issue of Mindanao, is not solely an issue of our Muslim brothers but it is an issue before the entire country and we must all be involved. As a matter of fact, there are debates now being carried out whether the plebiscite should only be in Muslim Mindanao but should also be in the entire country because if the BBL is passed, whatever form it is passed in, it will affect every single local government unit and to a lesser extent, but nevertheless equally important way, to each individual citizen. And so that has brought the debate to the public knowledge and that is why whereas before I would encourage all of our citizenry, dapat mapagusapan ninyo ito, dapat mapagdebatehan ninyo ito dahil importante ito hindi lamang sa mga taga Mindanao, hindi lamang sa mga senador na nagsusuri at nagaaral nito kung hindi sa buyong sambayanan, ay kailangan mapagusapan ito dahil meron kayong mararamdaman na kahit papaano na epekto dahil dito sa BBL.
And so we are continuing the process and I always state and re-state my commitment here, unlike some of the other commentators, is not to the BBL. My commitment is to the peace process. The peace process is what is important, we must continue, whatever happens, the peace process because the alternative is war. If we do not continue the peace process, if we do not come to some kind of agreement, we will have a Mamasapano every week, every month, everyday if it becomes very bad. So that is what we are trying to avoid that is why we are doing this in the first place. My commitment is to that peace process. The BBL I see as merely part of the peace process and what this incident has brought out is very clearly that it is not the only part of the peace process. There are many other things that we need to think about. What we need to think about are things like what are the main complaints in Muslim Mindanao, why has there even been a secessionist movement that was still in the time of the Spanish, the Americans, and the time of every single president that has sat in that position. And the reasons are: lack of representation, lack of development, lack of attention basically and that is something we need to address. If you remember, after the Tripoli agreement was signed, there was a massive development focus on Mindanao so that instead of going to war, instead of going to the hills, those fighters from then the MNLF could find decent jobs, could send their children to school, have a decent living so that they can feed their families, house and clothe their families. And that is what every single Filipino wants and for that matter that is what every single person wants and that is something we have to address. The creation of the Bangsamoro government perhaps would be many steps in that direction but it will not bring us to the end result yet. We still have to think about all the other things that need to be done. We will try as best as we can to include all of those ideas, all of those principles, and all of those concepts in the BBL so that when it is finally passed and that is something we are going to be working on, we have hoped in the past, earlier this year we had hoped to finish it by next month but I’m afraid the timetable has fallen by the wayside and we have right now, different circumstances facing us. And so that is the situation as I see it. I had a prepared speech but I wanted to talk about something else slightly but all the questions that are coming to me had been about this so I thought that this would be an opportune time because we have here leaders of our different communities and this will be the opportune time to talk about the issues that had been raised by not only the BBL but by the Mamasapano massacre.
I hope that this will fuel your interest and in your discussion into this extremely important issue, extremely important question and that your ideas and your thoughts and your feedback and observations about this you let us know because it is important we know what the people want because it is at this point that we need to regain the people’s trust not only in the individuals that were concerned but to the entire peace process because as I have said we are committed to that peace process. We are committed to peace in Mindanao and we will not rest until that has been achieved. Thank you and good afternoon.