By N Mark Castro
“All this happened, more or less.” – Slaughterhouse Five
This was the result of incompetence: pure and simple.
Because on January 25, 2015, suspended Philippine National Chief (PNP) Alan Purisima — who could not logically explain how he acquired his massive wealth before Congress — decided to initiate a plan to capture Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan.
Despite his suspension yet enjoying the confidence of President Benigno Aquino III, he hatched the plan and by-passed his direct superior, Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) and his replacement, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
So under his delusions of success, suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima ordered SAF Director Getulio Napeñas three platoons of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) police squad to enter the guerrilla enclave of Tukanalipao, Mindanao, Philippines, with the goal of detaining two high-ranking terrorists, Zulkifli Abdhir and Basit Usman.
According to testimonies and reports, the SAF troops shot it out with Marwan and was eventually killed. The SAF initially planned to take his body for identification, however, the shooting alerted the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the area.
By 6:18 AM, an SMS message was sent to SAF Director Getulio Napeñas that they were pinned down at their location and sent in their coordinates.
To wage heavy firefight and confront terrorism using SMS as your communication tool is a guaranteed recipe for a disaster.
No help ever came.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines — which was also denied information on the planned operation, did not know whether or not they were being phunked. Even if they were not, they could not get confirmation from their superiors to abandon their posts. They also could not understand since there was supposedly an on-going peace process.
Eventually, they came but by the time they did, 44 SAF police officers were massacred in a fashion that belie any potential for peace.
THE FINGER GAME
By the time the news broke out and the public clamored for accountability, everyone was washing their hands off all the way to the president. The Senate initiated hearings and watching suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima lie was pure theatre, laying the blame on SAF Director Getulio Napeñas who failed to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
When confronted with the fact that suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima headed the operations and gave the instructions toSAF Director Getulio Napeñas to by-pass DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, and AFP Chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr., suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima simply said”
That was not an order but an advice.
During this time, President Benigno Aquino Jr was both silent and nowhere to be found.
And when the fallen SAF 44 arrived, he was busy opening a Japanese auto manufacturing plant, setting a trend in Twitter #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the president?)
And why not? As Kurt Vonnegut said:
It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.
And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?” – Slaughterhouse Five
The worse part was that — after autopsies were conducted — the 44 SAF were shot in the upper midsection, revealing their bulletproof vests were taken off, with some even being shot on the head in close range.
It was execution. It was massacre.
And to add serious insult to the wounded dignity, family members of the slain who tried reaching out to the mobile phones of their fallen loved ones were answered by the killers, with women gleefully saying their husbands killed theirs. They wouldn’t return the personal belongings. They kept the mobile phones.
I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that. – Slaughterhouse Five
You can imagine the wounded soldier, stripped off his protection, gasping for life, expecting humane treatment, only to be fired upon on the head with the words “Finish him off.”
The gun could’ve very well made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty, which I hope he meets to complain: “What’s up with this government?”
Which makes the illogical retort of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima “That was not an order but an advice” a classic cruel joke.
This was, after all, the police force, an institution that demands one thing and one thing only — compliance in the chain of command. There is no such thing as free will.
You can stretch it even further that there is no free will elsewhere. You obey institutions. You obey corporate by-laws. You obey laws. You obey the government. You obey your parents. You obey your campus. You even obey what society dictates.
“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” – Slaughterhouse Five
So for suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima to say “That was not an order but an advice …” I frankly don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
While the president had been busy fending off queries from the journalists and public clamor, he had finally come around to facing the relatives of the slain 44 SAF.
Reports have it that during the gathering, President Aquino and other government officials discussed with the families the benefits they will receive, including financial support from private companies.
But family members of the slain 44 SAF said they were offended about the President’s replies.
“Yung isa sa kasamahan namin nagtanong about kung bakit hindi nagpadala ng airstrike, sabi ni PNoy: ‘Naglalaro ka ba ng computer?’ (One of our companies asked why the president did not send for an airstrike support, to which the president replied: “Do you play computer games?”
The president is notorious for his avid interest in playing computer games. There was even a report during his first as a president that he made several generals wait while he played games.
“Sa maraming questions ng mga kasamahan namin, sasabihin niya: ‘Tignan mo kung namumula ang mukha ko?’ (To the numerous questions raised by our companions, he would ask: “Look at me, am I blushing?”
A representative of one of the families told broadcaster Anthony Taberna of radio station dzMM that the one-on-one talks turned into an open forum where the families repeatedly asked pointed questions about how the government will deliver justice for their slain loved ones.
Aquino was apparently disturbed by the repeated questions and blurted out: “Anong gusto ninyo, kunan namin ng fingerprints ang lahat ng MILF? [What do you want us to do, get the fingerprints of all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?]”
“I’m not the only one who’s listening. God is listening, too. And on Judgment Day he’s going to tell you all the things you said and did. If it turns out they’re bad things instead of good things, that’s too bad for you, because you’ll burn forever and ever. The burning never stops hurting.”
And in the depth of insensitivity, Aquino said that he, too, lost his father. Reports have it that he said “Tabla-tabla tayo” (We’re equal now).
“Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut,” murmured Paul Lazzaro in his azure nest. “Go take a flying fuck at the moon.” – Slaughterhouse Five
Journalists that were barred to cover the meeting between the president and the families of the slain 44 SAF said that there were heated arguments they could hear behind the closed doors.
Of course, palace spokespersons tried to manage the issue. “Owing to the fact that their loss is very, very fresh and that they lost their loved ones in such a manner, we would understand… [that] they look at that opportunity to be able to ask the President questions differently. There are also families who have chosen not to speak of their private conversation but also did say they have no ill feelings towards the President. So at this point, we respect the differentiation of how he was received,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies. Men looked at her and wanted to fill her up with babies right away. She hadn’t had even one baby yet. She used birth control. – Slaughterhouse Five
And to make the Greek tragedy worse, another presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda (the president has 3) inserted his own defense on the issue:
“I think you guys are going to have to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just aren’t going to want to go on living.” – Slaughterhouse Five
At one point, rumour had it that both Lacierda and Valte were fucking. In another, Lacierda is gay. Ah to be in government fucking around.
Regardless of their sexual preferences, which is unfortunately not me, they are spinmeisters to the president, crafting the positive image of a negative human being.
There isn’t any particular relationship between the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time. – Slaughterhouse Five
The biggest issue isn’t just about the tragic Mamasapano Massacre but rather the insensitive, slow, and hand-washing replies of the president, at a time that the nation seeks leadership, guidance, and assurance.
That the lives of these police officers were wasted on the whims and caprice of an amateur conniving with his former bodyguard, suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima, gives a disservice to the dedication of those that have placed their faith in the government.
You know — we’ve had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. “‘My God, my God — ‘ I said to myself, ‘It’s the Children’s Crusade.'” – Slaughterhouse Five
Falling on seemingly deaf ears and disabled walk of Philippines justice prompted political strategist/political satirist/news columnist/music icon Dennis Garcia to inspire fellow netizens to be vigilant in holding the government accountable. And a president that has said nothing of value, has done nothing of impact, and could very much well be at fault for green lighting the operations of his former bodyguard.
But lest we forget, this is still about the sacrifice of the Slain 44 police officers, whose greatest crime was following the “advice” and “not orders” of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima, given the full support his incompetent president.
“Goodness me, the clock has struck-
Alackday, and fuck my luck.’
Because if there’s anything that the renegade extremist group BIFF failed to understand is that in the entire 7,100 islands of the Republic of the Philippines, only one theme has remained to be true:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. – Slaugtherhouse Five
And the 44 SAF police officers that you have inhumanely executed are connected to every blood and skin of the Filipino people.
So it goes.