For Immediate Release
February 12, 2015
Contact: Jun Cruz, NAFCON Communications Secretary
U.S. Filipinos Join Call for Aquino’s Accountability in Mamasapano Fiasco
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and joins the worldwide call for truth, justice and Aquino’s accountability in response to the Philippine National Police (PNP) operation in the southern Philippines that cost the lives of over 60 Filipinos, including ordinary civilians, members of the PNP, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The negligently implemented operation named Operation Exodus, which was carried out by the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) but funded, trained and orchestrated with U.S. officials, resulted in the single largest loss of lives of PNP forces in history. The main targets were two U.S. FBI “most-wanted” persons, including Zulkifli bin Hir aka “Marwan,” who together carried a $7 million bounty for their capture or death.
Operation Exodus occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, a territory of the MILF, with whom the Philippine Government signed a cease-fire and peace treaty in March 2014. For months prior to the incident, PNP-SAF involved US military personnel in the planning but intentionally did not coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF, resulting in the deadly 12-hour clash.
Mamasapano investigation exposes Aquino’s lies and crimes
The Philippine Senate interrogation of PNP-SAF Director Getulio Pascua Napenas revealed that the botched operation was directed by suspended Police Director General Alan Purisima. Napenas narrated that on January 9, 2015, he met with Purisima and President Aquino in the presidential residence in Malacanang to brief the President on “Oplan Exodus.” The Officer-in-Charge of the PNP Leonardo Espina, who was the acting director over Purisima’s suspension, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas were not present in this meeting.
“There is a long list of violations the President committed in this entire fiasco. He violated the suspension order by allowing Purisima to be in charge of the operation. He also violated the chain of command by placing the leadership with Purisima and not informing Espina or Roxas. He violated the ceasefire agreement with the MILF by failing to inform the government peace panel. We demand accountability,” says Terrence Valen, NAFCON President.
Between the contradicting statements of the PNP and the AFP, facts around the incident are being unraveled by the public. “There is still neither basic transparency nor full declaration of facts from the Commander-in-Chief, President Aquino. The people are angry and are questioning Aquino’s cover-up of the truth and suspicious denial of responsibility,” declares Anne Beryl Naguit, NAFCON Vice President.
Evidence of US involvement surfaces
Potri Ranka Manis, a Maranao Bai Labi and a founding member of Kinding Sindaw, an indigenous-based member organization of NAFCON, states, “The divide and rule tactics using north against south, Christians vs Muslims, is an old scheme that has been used to divide Filipinos. How can the Philippine government who signed a ceasefire agreement send its own police forces to be sacrificial lambs? The scripted violation of the peace process shows who controls the Philippine government officials; this is a mere act to reinforce the rationale for foreign military to continue staying in the Philippines to train and protect its citizens, when in reality the U.S. military is there to protect the interests of the American elite. It’s time to unite and to assert our rights for self-determination.”
News reports have shown that the United States government and particularly the FBI were directly involved in the planning and execution of Operation Exodus. An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer elaborated on the use of a drone or an unmanned aircraft that is believed to be from US forces in the country. A source told PDI that the US “had fully funded and provided the training for the Mamasapano operation… [and that] the whole operation had been planned in a secret facility inside La Vista del Mar Resort in Zamboanga, where Americans reportedly operated a facility and where members of the 84th SAF company were trained for the operation against Marwan.”
American soldiers even participated in evacuating the dead bodies of the SAF, but the Philippine government has denied U.S. involvement.
“The direct U.S. intervention in Philippine affairs and the blatant trampling of the sovereignty of the Filipino people are both unacceptable. The Aquino administration is sacrificing the lives and dignity of Filipinos to fulfill the wishes of the U.S government in its so-called ‘War on Terror.’ The truth is that the presence of U.S. troops and drones in our country is what’s bringing real terror to militarized communities throughout the Philippines -- just ask the family of Jennifer Laude, a trans-woman killed late last year by a U.S. serviceman,” says Valen.
Filipinos call for truth, justice and accountability
NAFCON calls on our members and all peace-loving people to remain vigilant. “It is our U.S. tax dollars that are being used to fund these operations that lead to violent and senseless deaths of our fellow kababayan (countrymen) in the Philippines, and we must not let this continue. The U.S. government should focus on the issues of its own people such as the nationwide epidemic of poverty and the almost daily killing of black and trans people by police and security forces, private citizens and vigilantes, instead of instigating conflicts overseas and meddling in other countries’ internal affairs,” adds Valen.
“We shall not let up in our quest for justice for all those who died. We will organize various fora, activities, and protest actions, to expose these injustices and demand accountability at the highest levels, all the way up to the resignation of Aquino and the termination of one-sided US-Philippines military agreements. Most importantly, we will strive to unite all people for genuine peace by sowing the seeds of justice planted in the soil of comprehensive social and economic reforms that truly meet the needs of the people,” Valen ends.
Aurora Victoria Herrera David
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
Alliance Secretary 2014-2017
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