This is what Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said today about the 44 SAF operatives slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao after the Senate executive session on Thursday night with survivors of the worst clash in years between government law enforcers and fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
During an interview with Jake Maderazo on Radyo Inquirer, Marcos declined to bare any details on the executive session, saying he has not only to honor the agreement between the Senators but more importantly to ensure the safety of the survivors and their families.
“But this is what I can say: from what was told to us, it is almost incomprehensible how brave and gallant our policemen were. What they endured, what they have done, their bravery...we, senators, were looking at each other— we could not believe we ourselves could do what they did,” Marcos said.
Even as this developed, Marcos said it's time President Benigno Aquino III came clean on his actual role in Operation Exodus that led to the death of the 44 SAF men in Mamasapano on January 25.
Marcos noted that in the latest Senate hearings, none of the officials present from DILG (Dept. of Interior and Local Government) Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Pio Catapang wanted to admit that they informed President Aquino about the Mamasapano incident.
“All of them were just exchanging glances, nobody could provide us a direct answer,” Marcos said, “except for Gen. Alan Purisima, who begged to secure executive clearance first.”
The Senator said nobody wanted to admit telling the President about the Mamasapano incident because they would have to answer too the obvious follow up question about the President’s actions after learning of the developments in Mamasapano.
“We have to find out what the instructions of the President were because there were reports that the instruction was for the AFP to exert "best efforts" (in helping the SAF men) only. That’s a pity if it was only best efforts,” Marcos said.
It was also disturbing, Marcos said, that based on the testimony of Gen. Catapang, the AFP refused to send in any air assets to help the beleaguered SAF troops over fears of being “misinterpreted” by the MILF as an attack on them.
“They (AFP) didn’t do it because they are worried about the reaction of the MILF when at that time the MILF fighters were already out there firing and killing the hapless SAF troopers. They put priority to the peace process over the lives of our SAF men. I simply cannot understand this policy, it’s disturbing to say the least,” Marcos said.
Based on the testimonies in the hearing Thursday, Marcos said it was clear President Aquino knew that both Acting PNP Chief Leonardo Espina and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas were kept in the dark as to Operation Exodus.
At the same time, Marcos refuted the MILF’s claim that the misencounter stemmed from the failure of the SAF to coordinate with them for the operation against Malaysian terrorist Marwan.
“From the reports, the MILF side was informed around noon that day that they are facing government troops and they should effect a ceasefire. But the firing stopped at 4:00 pm. By that time most of those who died in the encounter were already dead. So I don’t think it’s true that the SAF did not coordinate,” he said