LETTER | We demand truth and accountability in the Mamasapano incident

February 22, 2015

Youth Act Now-Manila holds a Unity Walk for Truth and Accountability over the Mamasapano carnage from Kilometer Zero in Rizal Park going to Ermita Church. <b>Kathy Yamzon/Contribution</b>

Youth Act Now-Manila holds a Unity Walk for Truth and Accountability over the Mamasapano carnage from Kilometer Zero in Rizal Park going to Ermita Church. Kathy Yamzon/Contribution

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Forty-four members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), 18 Moro rebels and six civilians are dead. The Mindanao peace process is teetering on the brink with a possible escalation of the armed conflict. Our nation mourns while outrage spreads, as the highest government officials try to cover up events leading to the carnage.

Nearly a month after the January 25 Mamasapano clash, the following details of the top-secret SAF operation are emerging:

  • President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Commander-in-Chief, assigned General Alan Purisima to oversee the entire operation despite the Philippine National Police chief’s suspension on corruption charges;
  • President Aquino’s decision closed off Operation Exodus to all but himself and a few chosen men, violating the chain of command and all notions of responsible oversight.
  • The early morning raid was done without proper coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the GRP-MILF ceasefire committee, which would have helped prevent the loss of so many lives on all sides.
  • The operation involved the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Zamboanga-based US Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) in various capacities and stages.
  • In light of these fatal errors, the President and his men appear to be frantically covering up their roles as well as that of the US government. This is unacceptable.

    The government owes the dead, their bereaved families and the entire nation a thorough and independent investigation.  Aside from the operational failures of Oplan Exodus, the investigation should look into the following:

    1.    The role and accountabilities of the President and everyone else down the line and why entire chains of command were bypassed in the high-value, high-risk operation;

    2.    How the government factored in or failed to consider the consequences to the GPH-MILF peace process;

    3.    The role of the US government in the conduct of the hunt for Marwan and Usman and, in particular,  in Oplan Exodus;

    4.    The accountabilities of the Philippine government, MILF, BIFF and other groups with respect to possible violations of the peace agreements and International Humanitarian Law.

    Justice cannot be achieved in a process shrouded by half-truths and outright lies. Peace itself is threatened by the absence of truth and accountability. Thus do we demand truth and seek accountability — most especially from the highest official of the land — in order for justice to be served and genuine peace to be achieved. 

    This February 25, exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, and on the anniversary of EDSA 1, we call on everyone to join us in an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain, to be held from 3-6 p.m., starting at the Camp Crame EDSA Gate stretching all the way to the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas Ave.

    Let us join hands for truth, accountability, justice and genuine peace.

     

    Signatories:

    Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB

    Atty. Vicente Joyas
    Integrated Bar of the Philippines

    Bishop Arturo Asi
    United Church of Christ of the Philippines

    Bishop Elmer Bolocon
    Ecumenical Bishops Forum

    Fr. Rex Reyes
    National Council of Churches of the Philippines

    Fr. Ben Alforque, MSC

    Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, PhD
    Pagbabago! Movement for Change

    Engr. Jun Lozada

    Col. George Rabusa (Ret.)

    Bibeth Orteza

    Monique Wilson

    Atty. Harry Roque
    Concerned Citizens Movement

    Carol P. Araullo
    Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

    Joel Lamangan
    Concerned Artists of the Philippines

    Atty. Edre Olalia
    National Union of People’s Lawyers

    Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS

    Sr. Lynn Leuterio, ICM

    Fr. Jesus Dumaual, MSC

    Rev. Mariesol Villalon
    United Methodist Church

    Tonyo Cruz
    tonyocruz.com

    Peachy Bretaña

    Mae P. Paner

    Maria Isabel Lopez

    Dante LA. Jimenez
    Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption

    Mico Pangalanan
    Youth ACT Now!

    Menchu Sarmiento
    Writers vs. Impunity

    Dr. Ramon Paterno

    Socorro Reyes
    BABALA

    Murphy Red
    Kapederasyon