It may be seemingly unfair for President Duterte to be blaming then Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary and now senatorial candidate Mar Roxas for the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in the botched police operation that happened four years ago.
Having been left out of the loop by his boss, former President Aquino, during the whole secretive and highly-sensitive planning operation dubbed Oplan Exodus, which sole purpose was to carry out the arrest of international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan” and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman who were reported lurking in Mamasapano, a Muslim rebel territory in the province of Maguindanao, Roxas never had any inkling what was going on behind his back until the shit finally hit the fan, so to speak.
One can still imagine Roxas’ face with mouth agape, unbelieving and stunned of the crisis he was in an instant facing as Interior Secretary.
In defending Roxas from Duterte’s culpability attack on the Mamasapano massacre, Sen. Francis Pangilinan reasoned out that what the president was doing was “pure politicking”, considering that the Senate had already investigated the incident and charges have already been filed in court.
“Raising the matter anew is pure and simple politicking, and a means to shun important and pressing issues affecting the Filipinos such as poverty, lack of opportunities, indignation over China’s aggression, and corruption hounding many of the administration candidates,” said Pangilinan in a statement.
Well, Pangilinan should really be putting the money where his mouth is for the truth is that to Roxas, the Mamasapano issue continues to be his political liability for not being man enough to confront Pres. Aquino on why he was excluded from a highly-sensitive Oplan Exodus meeting. but chose instead to connive, trust and discuss covertly the SAF mission with the suspended Police Gen. Alan Purisima .
Why the mistrust in Aquino’s own Interior Secretary and the latter’s PNP OIC chief, Lt. Gen. Leonardo Espina?
Roxas could have made something of himself if he only stood up to Aquino and defended his name, his reputation and the dignity of his office. After being wittingly ignored and disrespected, the least that he could have done was submit a courtesy resignation and the people would have lauded him for that. In fact had he turn his back on Aquino and left government he could have given Duterte a stiff competition during the 2016 presidential election.
Thus, Roxas spineless demeanor on the Mamasapano issue, where he in fact supported Aquino’s action, continue to be a matter of contention in the May 2019 election that is being exploited to the hilt by Duterte because of his weak leadership.
With regards to other issues which Pangilinan considers ‘important and pressing’, like China’s aggression, poverty, lack of opportunities and corruption, well, as Liberal Party (LP) president, he should be the first one to admit that Duterte is addressing these problems better and more successfully than his party-mate Aquino during his time.