Senator Alan Cayetano’s act of blocking the confirmation of the promotion of Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division commander Edmundo Pangilinan to a two-star general or as Major General is political grandstanding, at best, and, at worst, an unjust political sniping.
Pangilinan is the Army commander who refused to give the go signal to fire artillery support in the absence of complete information on the ground.
Cayetano strongly believes that had there been artillery fire the January 25 Mamasapano massacre could have been prevented.
There is no doubt that with military support lives of the PNP-SAF members conducting the raid could have been saved, but the foremost question that has still to be answered to this day is: Was there proper coordination ahead of time between higher police and military officials, such that when the assistance and artillery support was needed, the armed forces was ready to deliver?
How could Pangilinan be falted when he was not briefed before hand about such a delicate and dangerous mission as Oplan Exodus, and when the call for help was made, it was following the concept of “time on target” advice, which means that the police commandos where already at the target site conducting the raid.
A General worth his salt won’t just react and order firing at the coordinates given just because artillery support is being asked.
This is what Pangilinan was arguing about at the Senate hearing – that he wanted more information or more specifics because the given coordinate in the first place was where the trapped commandos were. So where specifically were the Moro rebels holed up?
It is easy for Cayetano and some other politicians to say now that Pangilinan should have ordered to fire his artillery, but what if civilians and friendly forces were killed instead of the rebels?
At the back of Pangilinan’s mind was the fact that he did not want the peace process to be derailed.
Given the circumstances that he was in – meaning, that like Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Deputy Director Leonardo Espina who were kept in the dark until the Oplan Exodus shall have been started, Pangilinan’s restrained response to fire is well taken or else he would have been labeled also as criminal for wantonly killing civilians.
Cayetano should have been fair to Pangilinan. That he should be careful whether or not Pangilinan is deserving of his two-star rank is uncalled for. Confirm him for Chrissake!
Cayetano’s political sniping should have been directed at former PNP chief Alan Purisima, who, because of his equally covert participation in Oplan Exodus, with the knowledge and tacit approval of President Benigno Aquino (PNoy), contributed to the botched operation by failing to follow through his promise to sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas that he will take care of informing/coordinating with AFP chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang.
Napeñas could never have coordinated with the military because of his continuing distrust, blaming them for leaking sensitive information every time a covert police mission is planned. He trusted Purisima to do instead the coordinating hoping that it will be fruitful. Alas, it never came to be and the result was the devastating loss of 44 precious lives.
Cayetano’s political sniping should have been directed also to PNoy for being inept enough to involve a suspended Purisima and trusting the disgraced former PNP chief with all his might, and which to this day continues to believe that neither of them has done any wrong at all.