The Filipino people in general, like the families of the elite policemen from the Special Action Force (SAF) massacred at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-controlled area in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, while on a covert mission to arrest a couple of highly regarded international terrorists, also want that government unmask the culprits responsible for the carnage.
Where we are now in the Bangsamoro peace talks between the government and the MILF negotiators, I don’t think it is really going to be hard for the MILF group to divulge who were those involved in the killings – if what we want are names and their corresponding photos.
Urging the Muslim panel, however, to turn the culprits over to the government so justice will be served for the crime they have committed is, I suppose, asking for the impossible.
MILF chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim made it clear, in an interview, saying that “violators among their ranks will not be turned over to the government but will be tried based on the Sharia Law.” Sharia is the custom-based body of law based on the Koran and the religion of Islam.
For the sake of peace in Mindanao, we probably have just to accept that in earnestly pursuing for peace, war between government forces and the Muslim rebels has always been part and parcel of the process. Going after deadly terrorists given shelter and protection by rebels the government forces are fighting against becomes an even daunting, if not dangerous operation. But that is a given.
Thus, if 44 lives of our troopers belonging to SAF were snuffed out just like that by the MILF rebels, wouldn’t it be justifiable that we ask government to find out and unmask, likewise, those responsible for giving the thumbs-up sign for the bungled Mamasapano operation?
Surely, the massacre was not result of a ‘misencounter’ as some officials in government want the Filipino people to believe. Delicate and covert missions, like the one planned for the capture of the terrorists in Mamasapano, should not be without preparing the troops for the worst – war. And that is precisely why the troops making the assault are all in battle gears.
The question now that should be answered by government authorities, from the president down to the SAF leader, is why the death toll has been so high despite the fact that the victims were considered highly trained troopers?
What, why, how and where did it go so wrong?
We understand and respect Islam’s Sharia law. There is nothing we can do about it if we want peace.
But the country has also its own legal procedures that will make it morally right to ferret out and unmask who, among the officials in government and the Philippine National Police (PNP), are equally culprits in the Mamasapano massacre.
‘Misencounter’, definitely, no.
Miscalculation? Misjudgment? Mismanagement?
All of the above, and definitely, yes.