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AWARDING OF MEDALS: SAF 44 FAMILIES DEJECTED BY P-NOY's LACK OF REMORSE


JANUARY 26 -WHERE THEY FELL. The cornfields of Tukanalipao. Photo by Patricia Evangelista / Rappler
Families and loved ones of some of the fallen 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos apparently snubbed the awarding of medals, led by President Aquino yesterday in Camp Crame. Aquino’s speech during the event also did not offer any consolation to the aggrieved relatives of the police commandos slaughtered by a combined group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Jan. 25 last year as he stuck to his claim that it was entirely the fault of the SAF commander at that time, sacked Director Getulio Napeñas, who he implied is now being shielded from accountability by the law creating the Philippine National Police (PNP).“My appeal to Congress is a review of the PNP Law; to identify the provisions that bar the immediate imposition of penalties to officials who were unable to perform their duties. We do not want the tragedy to be repeated as a result of rules not being followed,” he said. Aquino also tried to deflect allegations raised against him for the government’s inability to prosecute those involved in the massacre of the policemen, as he laid the blame instead on the judicial system. “Like you (relatives of the fallen SAF 44), I am also impatient on the slow justice system in our country. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied. Rest assured that similar to taking care of immediate support given to the families of the SAF 44, we will pursue the attainment of justice,” Aquino said. Aquino also cited efforts of some quarters to use the Mamasapano issue “to sow disunity” and to exploit the tragedy “for their own agenda.” He also inappropriately compared the SAF 44 relatives’ quest for justice to the Boston marathon attacks in the United States, in which the suspects were charged within a year. “The wound caused by this tragedy will not heal if one year after, justice remains elusive for their deaths. The question is, why haven’t we made those responsible answer for their deaths?,” he said. Conspicuously absent during the event was Erika Pabalinas, the wife of Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas, who served as the spokesman of the families of the SAF 44 during the necrological services offered last year for the fallen commandos. In her speech during the services a few days after the tragedy, Mrs Pabalinas pleaded to Aquino to help them in seeking justice for the killing of their loved ones. Pabalinas was the most senior of the slain 44 commandos. He was conferred a Distinguished Conduct Star (DCS), the second highest combat award along with 41 others. The father and brother of Pabalinas instead received the citation from Aquino. Two commandos – Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and PO2 Romeo Cempron, were awarded with Medals for Valor –the highest combat award for both the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The awards of Senior Insp. Max Jim Tria and PO2 Franklin Danao were received by their classmates, while an uncle of Senior Insp. John Gary Erana received the latter’s DCS. Nobody received the award for PO1 Rennie Tayrus. Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ricardo Marquez denied allegations that police leadership forced the relatives of the SAF to attend the awarding. READ MORE...

ALSO: BY NOY's APOLOGIST - THE POPE BROUGHT LOVE. IT LASTED TWO WEEKS.


FEBRUARY 1 -BY JOE AMERICA FROM HIS 'SOCIETY OF HONOR' BLOG
I am ignorant in my ways, of that I am convinced. People here and elsewhere have told me so. I agree, because my emotional and intellectual capacities do not comprehend. The topic today is grief and compassion. grief, ɡrēf/, noun, deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. Synonyms: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak,agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, despair. I am also an apologist for President Aquino. I’ve been threatened with that description, as if it made me a villain, but I frankly don’t see the shame of supporting one’s nation, or the president of one’s nation. Even if it is controversial. Just because people are loud doesn’t make them right. a·pol·o·gist, əˈpäləjəst/, noun, a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial. Synonyms: defender, supporter, upholder, advocate, proponent, exponent, propagandist, champion, campaigner. It does not say jerk, half-wit, idiot, or twit. It says defender. Advocate. Propagandist. Propagandist. Well, I suppose that’s how someone disagreeing would categorize this particular blog. So consider yourself warned. I am about to unleash the mighty power of ideas, of propaganda, aimed to make you think. Walk in fear. I don’t know how it is that the good will of Pope Francis so quickly dissolved into such a chaotic and angry mass of acrimony and blame, of threat and bad will. To me, the ignorant outsider, the nation came unglued, irrational, emotionally unhinged about 44 of 61 deaths from a mission gone bad. President Aquino threw salt into the wound by not attending the delivery of caskets in Manila. READ MORE...

ALSO: JPE hits, allies defend Noy over Mamasapano


JANUARY 28 -Cabinet members, military and police officers face senators at the hearing yesterday. GEREMY PINTOLO Poe: No change in Senate report
 – A retelling of events that led to the Mamasapano carnage last year pointed to President Aquino’s direct role in the botched anti-terror operation that left 44 elite police commandos dead, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday told a Senate panel investigating the tragedy. Grilling police and military officers for hours, Enrile said it was apparent President Aquino was hiding behind resigned police chief Alan Purisima to escape blame for the deaths of the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) at the hands of Muslim rebels on Jan. 25 last year. All the President’s men – from his Army commander, to Cabinet members and senator allies – closed ranks to disprove Enrile’s claims. At Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. emphasized the Chief Executive “had always acted responsibly and faced squarely all matters pertaining to the Mamasapano incident.” President Aquino’s lawmaker allies including Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said nothing new came out of the hearing yesterday. READ MUCH MORE...

ALSO: HR WATCH - Int’l body slams PH rights record


JANUARY 29 -President Benigno Aquino III
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s six-year term in office will end in mid-2016 without achieving his promised goal to significantly improve human rights in the country, Human Rights Watch said Thursday in its World Report 2016.
“Since his election, President Aquino held out the promise of a rights-respecting Philippines for which he has sadly been unable to deliver,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director. “While the number of serious violations has declined during Aquino’s administration, ongoing killings of prominent activists and the lack of successful prosecutions mean there’s nothing to prevent an upsurge of abuses in the future,” Kine said. Human Rights Watch said there has been little accountability for the killings of indigenous leaders, activists, and journalists, and other serious abuses during Aquino’s administration. In the first eight months of 2015, military and paramilitary groups allegedly killed more than a dozen tribal leaders and tribal community members, local rights groups reported. Military operations in areas in Mindanao, heavily populated by indigenous peoples, contributed to the displacement of 243,000 since January, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Many of those displaced faced inadequate food, shelter, and health care. Nine journalists were killed in 2015—three of them over 10 days in August. Only one suspect was reported arrested in these attacks. Killings of alleged petty criminals, drug dealers, and others by “death squads” or contract killers in several cities continued unabated. In some cases, the killings were publicly encouraged by local officials such as presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Children throughout the Philippines face a wide range of human rights abuses. As a September 2015 Human Rights Watch report documented, in small-scale gold mining, children are exposed to extremely hazardous work conditions, working deep underground, diving underwater to dig for gold, and processing ore with toxic mercury. Armed conflict prevented children in a number of areas from attending school, and paramilitaries raided several schools, killing a school administrator in August. In Manila in November, authorities detained hundreds of poor and homeless, among them many children, to clear the capital of street dwellers during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a practice previously used during high-profile events. “While Aquino’s presidency has had a mixed record on rights issues, ultimately he has failed to make the institutional reforms to ensure a lasting positive human rights legacy,” Kine said. “The Philippines’ next president must be prepared to tackle deep-seated impunity for abuses by state security forces and the corrupt and politicized criminal justice system,” Kine also said. In the 659-page World Report 2016, its 26th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Opposition lawmakers agreed with the Human Rights Watch findings. READ MORE...

ALSO: Netizens criticize new Roxas ad video


JANUARY 29 -Mar Roxas
NETIZENS on Thursday demanded that the social networking site Facebook “take down” presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II’s political ad for being “offensive,” but the ruling Liberal Party played it down.
‘‘What we’re saying in social media, haters gonna hate. The propaganda against Secretary Mar [Roxas] are just the same and aren’t true,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, Roxas’ spokesman, said Thursday. Roxas’ newest political ad had him stripped down in a “tight shot,” making a simple pitch that he’s “no drama, just work.” In an apparent reference to rivals Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe, who both have interesting narratives, Roxas talks straight to voters saying while he doesn’t have a compelling storyline, he knows what to do. “They say I didn’t grow up poor. That I don’t have a dramatic story. But the elections aren’t about me. It’s about you and your family. I won’t give you drama. I’ll focus on creating jobs for you. That’s what I know. That’s what I can do,” Roxas said in his new 30-seconder ad. “I will continue the Straight Path. If there’s anything lacking, I’ll correct it. If there’s anything wrong, I’ll make it right. “Most importantly, I will not steal from you,” said Roxas in another reference to Binay who is facing allegations of corruption during his time as Makati Mayor. In another version of the ad where he speaks in his native Hiligaynon, Roxas says he’s not up to drama and is not a bully, referring to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. “Why Mar? I don’t have drama and not asking for pity. And I’m not a bully and an abuser. Most importantly, I will not steal from you. No drama, just work,” Roxas said in the twenty-seconder ad. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

SAF 44 kin dejected at remorseless Noy

MANILA, FEBRUARY 1 2016 (TRIBUNE) Written by Mario J. Mallari Tuesday, 26 January 2016


WHERE THEY FELL. The cornfields of Tukanalipao. Photo by Patricia Evangelista / Rappler

Families and loved ones of some of the fallen 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos apparently snubbed the awarding of medals, led by President Aquino yesterday in Camp Crame.

Aquino’s speech during the event also did not offer any consolation to the aggrieved relatives of the police commandos slaughtered by a combined group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Jan. 25 last year as he stuck to his claim that it was entirely the fault of the SAF commander at that time, sacked Director Getulio Napeñas, who he implied is now being shielded from accountability by the law creating the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“My appeal to Congress is a review of the PNP Law; to identify the provisions that bar the immediate imposition of penalties to officials who were unable to perform their duties. We do not want the tragedy to be repeated as a result of rules not being followed,” he said.

Aquino also tried to deflect allegations raised against him for the government’s inability to prosecute those involved in the massacre of the policemen, as he laid the blame instead on the judicial system.

“Like you (relatives of the fallen SAF 44), I am also impatient on the slow justice system in our country. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied. Rest assured that similar to taking care of immediate support given to the families of the SAF 44, we will pursue the attainment of justice,” Aquino said. Aquino also cited efforts of some quarters to use the Mamasapano issue “to sow disunity” and to exploit the tragedy “for their own agenda.”

He also inappropriately compared the SAF 44 relatives’ quest for justice to the Boston marathon attacks in the United States, in which the suspects were charged within a year.

“The wound caused by this tragedy will not heal if one year after, justice remains elusive for their deaths. The question is, why haven’t we made those responsible answer for their deaths?,” he said.

Conspicuously absent during the event was Erika Pabalinas, the wife of Senior Insp. Ryan Pabalinas, who served as the spokesman of the families of the SAF 44 during the necrological services offered last year for the fallen commandos.

In her speech during the services a few days after the tragedy, Mrs Pabalinas pleaded to Aquino to help them in seeking justice for the killing of their loved ones.

Pabalinas was the most senior of the slain 44 commandos. He was conferred a Distinguished Conduct Star (DCS), the second highest combat award along with 41 others. The father and brother of Pabalinas instead received the citation from Aquino.

Two commandos – Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi and PO2 Romeo Cempron, were awarded with Medals for Valor –the highest combat award for both the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).


INQUIRER NEWS FILE -HEADLINE PHOTO: Stony-faced SAF 44 kin get awards from Aquino. By: Jaymee T. Gamil @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:33 AM January 26th, 2016 No surrender. The President, in his speech, heaped praise on Cempron: “Despite being surrounded by more or less 700 enemies, PO2 Cempron fought fiercely. Until the end, he did not surrender. When he ran out of bullets and no longer had any firearms left, he used his own body to shield his comrades from the bullets.” MEDALOF VALOR Leah Tabdi, widow of fallen Special Action Force commando Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi, receives from President Aquino aMedal of Valor for her husband to mark the first anniversary of the Mamasapano massacre. JOAN BONDOC INQUIRER FILE

WATCH THE PRESIDENT DELIVER (READ) HIS SPEECH ON YOU TUBE :


THE CEREMONY was intended to honor their loved ones but the relatives hardly looked appeased.

The awards of Senior Insp. Max Jim Tria and PO2 Franklin Danao were received by their classmates, while an uncle of Senior Insp. John Gary Erana received the latter’s DCS.

Nobody received the award for PO1 Rennie Tayrus.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ricardo Marquez denied allegations that police leadership forced the relatives of the SAF to attend the awarding.

READ MORE...

“We did not force them. We asked our officers to invite them over last Friday and I made these instructions that if they would not attend, I will recommend the cancelation of this awarding today,” Marquez said.

At the same time, Marquez expressed hope that the awarding of medals to the fallen 44 SAF commandos should put closure to the last year’s debacle in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“Aside from our duty to award those who died in the battle, we would like to think that this will put some closure of this event,” said Marquez.

Marquez justified the awarding of only two Medals for Valor, saying “there are processes for the Medal of Valor, the promotions board considered and followed the processes.”

“There strict guidelines in awarding Medal of Valor and we do not want to set aside those requirements. That award (Medal for Valor) is the highest award,” Marquez said.

Oplan “Exodus” resulted in the killing of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, while two other targets, Malaysian Amin Baco and Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman escaped during the operation .


DILG CHIEF Mel Sarmiento

What cover-up? — Sarmiento

Relatedly, Marquez and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento denied reports about the alleged previous attempt by the government to cover up for the Mamasapano massacre, whose reinvestigation by the Senate will start tomorrow.

“Cover up, there is no cover up,” said Sarmiento.

“But I don’t want to comment on something I don’t know, but hearings have been conducted and this issue already went through the process,” he added.

For his part, Marquez said “As far as we are concerned, there was no attempt to cover up the investigation. I heard during the executive session everyone was given the chance to talk freely.”

“If we already heard that (audio recording), that’s the time may be that we can comment,” Marquez added.

Sarmiento and Marquez were reacting to reports about the recording that was reportedly in the possession of retired Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso, wherein a legislator and a government official reportedly talked about efforts to cover up for the Mamasapano debacle during its past hearings.

Marquez said the PNP is waiting to have a copy of the supposed recording, which he had already asked from Valeroso, his former classmate at the Philippine Military Academy, but was turned down.

“I asked him if I can be given a copy. He told me, it will be distributed simultaneously,” Marquez said.

Senate Majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano said it was the lack of justice that discouraged the widows and families of the slain 44 SAF troopers to attend the government’s official commemoration of the Mamasapano tragedy.

Cayetano issued the statement in response to Sarmiento who said that certain politicians allegedly discouraged the families of the victims to attend the awarding ceremony in Camp Crame led by President Aquino on Monday.

Cayetano demanded that it explains allegations that it is forcing the SAF widows to attend its commemoration of the Mamasapano incident.

It was reported that Pabalinas, the widow of Chief Insp. Ryan Pabalinas, who led the predawn SAF assault on Marwan’s hideout in Mamasapano, said some of the survivors of the SAF 44 had been pressured to attend the Monday ceremony or otherwise they will lose their jobs in the government.

“I hope this is not true. Otherwise, this will only add to the wounds that need healing as justice continues to elude the families of the SAF 44 one year after this tragedy happened,” Cayetano said.

A lawmaker from Magdalo partylist also lamented the Aquino government’s utter lack of interest in pursuing justice for fallen SAF 44.

Rep. Gary Alejano said the Aquino government has not shown interest in seeking justice for the victims of the massacre.
“It would appear now that this administration has been deliberately silent and complacent in seeking justice for SAF 44,” Alejano said in a statement.

Alejano noted that the charges against MILF and BIFF commanders and combatants were supposed to be filed several months ago.

“No meaningful development has taken place up to now,” he said.

The Magdalo party-list has filed House Resolution No. 2629 urging the House leadership and the committees on public order and safety and on peace, reconciliation and unity to come up with a report on its own investigation into the Mamasapano incident.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said the committee report will be released soon.

He however said the nation should be able to move on from the incident and work to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

Make Noy accountable

A militant lawmaker, meanwhile, said it’s time to hold Aquino responsible for the botched operation and put him behind bars.

“The Filipino people remains in mourning, even a year after the Mamasapano bloodbath. Justice can never be attained if the Aquino administration continues to put up with its obvious move to obfuscate the truth,” said Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.

Ridon made the statement after youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist marched to Mendiola calling for Aquino’s incarceration, insisting that there is “mounting evidence” that proves that the chief executive is also the mastermind of Oplan Exodus.

“We want Aquino to be put behind bars, not only for masterminding Mamasapano, but also for systematically hiding the whole truth about Mamasapano from the Filipino people,” Ridon said.

The youth lawmaker expressed hope that the reopening of the Senate probe on the Mamasapano fiasco will give more light to the actual involvement of the president in the botched operation.

“People are starting to talk. There’s former SAF Director Napeñas, who insists on the president’s involvement. And there’s Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who stopped short of confirming that Aquino was on top of the operation on that fateful day exactly a year ago,” Ridon noted. Charlie V. Manalo, Gerry Baldo, Ted Tuvera


BY JOE AMERICA: IN THE PRESIDENT's DEFENSE

THE POPE BROUGHT LOVE. IT LASTED TWO WEEKS. Posted by Joe America on February 1, 2015 · 112 Comments


BY JOE AMERICA FROM THE SOCIETY OF HONOR BLOG


I am ignorant in my ways, of that I am convinced. People here and elsewhere have told me so. I agree, because my emotional and intellectual capacities do not comprehend.

The topic today is grief and compassion.

grief, ɡrēf/, noun, deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. Synonyms: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak,agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, despair.

I am also an apologist for President Aquino. I’ve been threatened with that description, as if it made me a villain, but I frankly don’t see the shame of supporting one’s nation, or the president of one’s nation. Even if it is controversial. Just because people are loud doesn’t make them right.

a·pol·o·gist, əˈpäləjəst/, noun, a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial. Synonyms: defender, supporter, upholder, advocate, proponent, exponent, propagandist, champion, campaigner.

It does not say jerk, half-wit, idiot, or twit. It says defender. Advocate. Propagandist.

Propagandist. Well, I suppose that’s how someone disagreeing would categorize this particular blog.

So consider yourself warned. I am about to unleash the mighty power of ideas, of propaganda, aimed to make you think.

Walk in fear.

I don’t know how it is that the good will of Pope Francis so quickly dissolved into such a chaotic and angry mass of acrimony and blame, of threat and bad will.

To me, the ignorant outsider, the nation came unglued, irrational, emotionally unhinged about 44 of 61 deaths from a mission gone bad. President Aquino threw salt into the wound by not attending the delivery of caskets in Manila.

READ MORE...


A president abandoned by his nation. [Photo by Rappler]

There is grief. There is politics.

And like Harry Roque on a mission to destroy the VFA, a dead body is just what he needs. And he’s not afraid to use it to turn grief into a righteous attack dog of little remorse and little real compassion for the grieving.

The public’s intense reaction to the killing of 44 policemen among the 61 who died that day was a perfect setting for political use of grief.

The usual culprits went to work: media with a bias or willing to leverage pain to increase sales; political opponents, leftists and crooks opposed to President Aquino. They were happy to step on the dead to make their message work, feeding it into the Filipino penchant for deep, deep sorrow and it’s expressive partner, rage.

Anger itself is not grief. It is an outlet for expression of grief, as 9/11 was to America, driving the nation to kill way too many innocents, establish torture chambers and dungeons, and take up spying on friends and neighbors.

Anger may help release the pain by dumping it on someone else, but it is not the most constructive of fuels.


IMAGE -THE SCREAM

As Society of Honor contributor Steve said: “Grief is natural. Anger is natural. Making decisions when you’re angry is probably natural too, but it’s not smart.”

And so the citizens of this fine nation, in a howl not unlike “The Scream”, made decisions about the character and motives of their fine president. They made wild assumptions, gave no quarter, listened to no appeal for compassion, disregarded any good works done by the President, and let him have a full dose of their anger.

That Presidential “insensitivity” became Mr. Aquino’s legacy for many.

Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15 through the 19th. His message was mercy and compassion, with the poor being the people on his mind.

com·pas·sion, kəmˈpaSHən/, noun, sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude,sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance,kindness, humanity, charity.

The nation displayed precious little compassion for their President because of his failure to attend to the arrival of caskets, and every other flaw they could pick at. I found the hostility downright shocking. The radical left even said he was responsible for the deaths, not the MILF.

The nation displayed great compassion for the loved ones of the 44 dead sons among the 61 dead sons collected that day. That is as it should be.

The nation displayed precious little compassion for the loved ones of the dead sons of the enemy of who died that day.

Filipinos all, except for one murderous Malaysian. As if mothers don’t grieve if their sons are on the wrong list.

Cries for revenge rang loud and violent. Total war. Kill!

Hey, you like fighting to the death? You take point position on patrol, okay? Or put your son or kid brother out there. And you be at the air base in person when the caskets roll off.

Okay, well, time out. Enough.

Stop it. Just stop it!

The President is for the Philippines. He lives and works on our behalf. Not for greed or glory.

If he wanted greed, he’d have a lot of flashy cars and be flying off to resorts for dates with tropical bimbos.

If he wanted glory, he’d play the political games better, EPAL his way about the nation like Binay, buy off media outlets like Binay, tell us what we WANT to hear instead of what we NEED to hear.

Instead, he is working on getting jobs into the Philippines, using laws rather than guns to defend against China and restless Muslims, investing in infrastructure like it’s never been done before, getting growth unmatched since the 1950’s, building a respectful international platform for a nation that used to be known as a corrupt banana republic.

Managing like an executive rather than a movie star.

Y’all can’t find compassion for that kind of person?

You make him carry the grief of a nation, alone?

Y’all can’t see that Muslims in Mindanao are Filipinos, too? Poor ones? Like the Pope was talking about?

You make them cry, alone?

What was the Pope, anyway?

Just another Showtime flash?


PHILSTAR

JPE hits, allies defend Noy over Mamasapano By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 28, 2016 - 12:00am


Cabinet members, military and police officers face senators at the hearing yesterday. GEREMY PINTOLO

Poe: No change in Senate report

MANILA, Philippines – A retelling of events that led to the Mamasapano carnage last year pointed to President Aquino’s direct role in the botched anti-terror operation that left 44 elite police commandos dead, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday told a Senate panel investigating the tragedy.

Grilling police and military officers for hours, Enrile said it was apparent President Aquino was hiding behind resigned police chief Alan Purisima to escape blame for the deaths of the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) at the hands of Muslim rebels on Jan. 25 last year.

All the President’s men – from his Army commander, to Cabinet members and senator allies – closed ranks to disprove Enrile’s claims.

At Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. emphasized the Chief Executive “had always acted responsibly and faced squarely all matters pertaining to the Mamasapano incident.”

President Aquino’s lawmaker allies including Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said nothing new came out of the hearing yesterday.

READ MORE...

Enrile said President Aquino should be held liable for the tragedy after he “compartmentalized” the planning and implementation of Operation Plan Exodus and eventually failed to act promptly to help the beleaguered commandos.


PURISIMA AND AQUINO INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

“In Oplan Exodus, President Aquino appeared to have actively, directly involved himself.

He was briefed, consented and informed by police director general Alan Purisima and by you on all aspects of Oplan Exodus,” Enrile said at the re-opening of the inquiry, addressing Gen. Getulio Napeñas, the SAF chief at the time.

“As a matter of fact, he issued orders and gave instructions to PDG Purisima and to you… planning execution of Oplan Exodus,” Enrile told Napeñas.

The hearing – conducted by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs – lasted more than seven hours, from 10 a.m. to past 5 p.m. Sen. Grace Poe chairs the committee.


Sacked Special Action Force Director Getulio Napenas (left). AP FILE PHOTO

Also grilled by Enrile aside from Napeñas and Purisima was then Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Gen. Leonardo Espina.

Purisima was under suspension by the ombudsman for corruption when he reportedly directed Oplan Exodus.

The senator based his observations on the exchanges of text messages among the officers.

While the transcripts of the text exchanges have been in the possession of the Senate since last year, it was only yesterday that officials confirmed the contents of the messages.

Presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II, who was the interior and local government chief at the time of the Mamaspano tragedy, confirmed to senators his text messages to Espina informing the latter about the President’s concerns on the conflicting reports on casualties.

Enrile also raised questions on why top officials seemed not alarmed by the unfolding tragedy in Mamasapno as they went to Zamboanga City on the same day purportedly to check on the progress of investigation into a bombing incident.

The Senate minority leader also delved on the text messages between Aquino and Purisima, where the latter informed the Chief Executive at 5:45 a.m. about the launch of the operation against Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman.

Enrile read from the records that President Aquino replied at 7:36 a.m. to Purisima’s message. In his reply, Aquino asked why Marwan’s body was left behind, and what happened to the other targets.

It was discomfiting to realize, Enrile said, that Aquino was more concerned about the remains of a terrorist than the condition of his troops.


Photo presented by the AFP shows police officials led by SAF chief Gen. Getulio Napeñas Jr. chatting as the SAF commandos were trapped in Mamasapano. The photo was presented at yesterday’s Senate hearing.

Questionable concern

Purisima explained that having Marwan’s body would show that the terrorist had indeed been killed.

“Just answer my question. Did President Aquino at that moment show concern for the troops that he sent on the dangerous mission?” Enrile asked Purisima.

“The text messages will speak for itself, your honor,” Purisima answered.

“OK. This was all that he was interested in at that moment,” he said.

“Maybe not, your honor, but that was the text message sent to me,” Purisima said.

The former PNP chief also did not escape Sen. Nancy Binay’s questioning on his getting away with breaking protocol when he went straight to Aquino for a meeting.


SENATOR BINAY

Binay was referring to President Aquino’s and Purisima’s meeting on Jan. 9 where the Chief Executive was briefed on the details of Oplan Exodus.

Also present in the meeting were PNP Intelligence director Chief Supt. Fernando Mendez and Napeñas.

“Our role with the President is only informatory,” Purisima said.

At the start of the hearing, Enrile made clear he was not being vindictive against “powerful people” when he called for the reopening of the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano carnage.

“I’m doing this for the country so that never again shall a similar gruesome butchery happen in this land. I’m doing this for the people so that they will know the national leaders who failed them because of ineptness and lack of leadership,” he said.

Interviewed after the hearing, Enrile said he was able to prove the “responsibility and accountability of the President,” based on the text messages between the Chief Executive and his officials.

He maintained they should not put the blame entirely on Napeñas as they could have done more to help the beleaguered SAF personnel.

Enrile debunked claims by the President’s alter egos that he had been misinformed about the turn of events in Mamasapano. He said that considering the huge intelligence funds, such oversight was inexcusable.

No urgency

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV noted the lack of urgency among officials involved as shown by their not properly informing the President about the gravity of the situation.

Senate President Franklin Drilon pointed out that Oplan Exodus “was an exclusive plan, crafted and executed by the SAF, PNP,” a point seconded by Purisima.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III also pointed out that President Aquino was not informed well by his subordinates about the situation, judging from the exchange of text messages among the top police and military officials.

“I am reading this to show that of course, the reality that was happening on the ground was different from what he knew. What was the source of the information of the President at this time?”

He said the source of the of information was the text messages of Purisima, “which we know by now was totally different from what was happening on the ground.”


GUINGONA

Guingona noted that at the time Aquino was informed, only one SAF trooper was wounded. “Remember, this was what the President knew based on the text,” the Liberal Party senator said.

Guingona also reiterated another text saying that the SAF troopers outnumbered the rebels.

During the hearing, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, recalled that the President directed him to alert all assets in Mindanao to assist in the operations in case they would be needed.

Upon arrival in Zamboanga, Lt. Gen. Rustico Guererro said they discussed the Mamasapano incident after receiving calls for help from Espina. Guerrero said he also informed the President that he was not privy to the covert Oplan Exodus.

No stand down

Despite Enrile’s intense grilling, President Aquino’s officers declared there was no order from their commander-in-chief to hold off sending help to the SAF commandos.

“I did not order a stand down, neither did I receive any order,” said former Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang.

“I was not aware of any,” said current AFP chief Gen. Hernando Irriberri.


AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang confers with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he was also not “aware of any stand down order from the chief of staff.”

“There was no such order. I did not hear personally of such order,” Roxas said.

“I have nothing to report to the President… so there was no stand down. I was in Nueva Ecija. I was not with the President,” Purisima said.

Deputy SAF director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño also maintained that there was “no order to stand down.”

In a report read by Major Gen. Angelito de Leon, former deputy chief for operations of the AFP, the military also turned the tables on Napeñas for being “detached from the reality.”

Napeñas also had a “walk in the park” mindset about the operations, as the former SAF commander lacked “grasp of the gravity of the situation.”

Officials also showed a photo of Napeñas taken on the day of the operation showing him smiling and in civilian attire.

Purisima also joined AFP officials in blaming Napeñas for lack of efficient planning and coordination when he launched Oplan Exodus.

Poe herself said Aquino may have been misinformed about the progress of the operation.

At her closing statement, Poe reminded the public that in the Mamasapano operation, certain officials had been kept out of loop.

“And that nobody was ordered to stand down from sending reinforcement,” she said.

Her committee’s initial report last year stated President Aquino was “ultimately responsible” for the Mamasapano debacle when he dealt with a suspended PNP chief in handling the covert operations.

Meanwhile, militant party-list group Anakpawis scored the involvement of US forces in Oplan Exodus as confirmed by Napeñas at yesterday’s hearing. – With Aurea Calica, Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Ding Cervantes


MANILA STANDARD

Int’l body slams PH rights record posted January 29, 2016 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta


President Benigno Aquino III

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s six-year term in office will end in mid-2016 without achieving his promised goal to significantly improve human rights in the country, Human Rights Watch said Thursday in its World Report 2016.

“Since his election, President Aquino held out the promise of a rights-respecting Philippines for which he has sadly been unable to deliver,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director.

“While the number of serious violations has declined during Aquino’s administration, ongoing killings of prominent activists and the lack of successful prosecutions mean there’s nothing to prevent an upsurge of abuses in the future,” Kine said.

Human Rights Watch said there has been little accountability for the killings of indigenous leaders, activists, and journalists, and other serious abuses during Aquino’s administration.

In the first eight months of 2015, military and paramilitary groups allegedly killed more than a dozen tribal leaders and tribal community members, local rights groups reported.

Military operations in areas in Mindanao, heavily populated by indigenous peoples, contributed to the displacement of 243,000 since January, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Many of those displaced faced inadequate food, shelter, and health care.

Nine journalists were killed in 2015—three of them over 10 days in August. Only one suspect was reported arrested in these attacks. Killings of alleged petty criminals, drug dealers, and others by “death squads” or contract killers in several cities continued unabated.

In some cases, the killings were publicly encouraged by local officials such as presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Children throughout the Philippines face a wide range of human rights abuses. As a September 2015 Human Rights Watch report documented, in small-scale gold mining, children are exposed to extremely hazardous work conditions, working deep underground, diving underwater to dig for gold, and processing ore with toxic mercury.

Armed conflict prevented children in a number of areas from attending school, and paramilitaries raided several schools, killing a school administrator in August.

In Manila in November, authorities detained hundreds of poor and homeless, among them many children, to clear the capital of street dwellers during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a practice previously used during high-profile events.

“While Aquino’s presidency has had a mixed record on rights issues, ultimately he has failed to make the institutional reforms to ensure a lasting positive human rights legacy,” Kine said.

“The Philippines’ next president must be prepared to tackle deep-seated impunity for abuses by state security forces and the corrupt and politicized criminal justice system,” Kine also said.

In the 659-page World Report 2016, its 26th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

Opposition lawmakers agreed with the Human Rights Watch findings.

READ MORE...

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said the President has earned the notoriety of being insensitive to the needs of his people.

“What can we expect of him?” Dela Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc in the House, said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said it was ironic that the President failed to take action on cases pertaining to human rights.

“For a son whose father was a victim of human rights violations under Martial Law, it is really unfortunate, even lamentable, that [Benigno Simeon S.] Aquino [III] is only paying lip service to the issue of widespread human rights violations committed by the state security force and its agents, particularly the paramilitaries,” Zarate said.

“Consistently in the past five years he has shown that he can very well ignore the issue of human rights violations so long as it will serve the interests of his true bosses—the US government, the landlords, the big business and his cronies. in fact, BS Aquino is no different from [his predecessors],” Zarate added.

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, who served as Justice secretary during the administration of the President’s late mother, President Corazon Aquino, also lamented the present government’s inaction on human rights abuses.

“Recognition and protection of human rights was at its lowest during the present dispensation,” Bello said.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the inability of the police to solve murder cases and the increase in the attacks on media have been pulling the country down.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said all efforts must be exerted to end the killings of media practitioners and the culture of impunity.

Marcos, who is running for vice president, said the root of the problem is that many people in power think they are untouchable.

In his introductory essay for the Human Rights Watch report, Executive Director Kenneth Roth said the spread of terrorist attacks beyond the Middle East and the huge flows of refugees spawned by repression and conflict led many governments to curtail rights in misguided efforts to protect their security.

At the same time, authoritarian governments throughout the world, fearful of peaceful dissent that is often magnified by social media, embarked on the most intense crackdown on independent groups in recent times, Human Rights Watch also said.


MANILA STANDARD

Netizens criticize new Roxas video posted January 29, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito


Mar Roxas

NETIZENS on Thursday demanded that the social networking site Facebook “take down” presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II’s political ad for being “offensive,” but the ruling Liberal Party played it down.

‘‘What we’re saying in social media, haters gonna hate. The propaganda against Secretary Mar [Roxas] are just the same and aren’t true,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, Roxas’ spokesman, said Thursday.

Roxas’ newest political ad had him stripped down in a “tight shot,” making a simple pitch that he’s “no drama, just work.”

In an apparent reference to rivals Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe, who both have interesting narratives, Roxas talks straight to voters saying while he doesn’t have a compelling storyline, he knows what to do.

“They say I didn’t grow up poor. That I don’t have a dramatic story. But the elections aren’t about me. It’s about you and your family. I won’t give you drama. I’ll focus on creating jobs for you. That’s what I know. That’s what I can do,” Roxas said in his new 30-seconder ad.

“I will continue the Straight Path. If there’s anything lacking, I’ll correct it. If there’s anything wrong, I’ll make it right.

“Most importantly, I will not steal from you,” said Roxas in another reference to Binay who is facing allegations of corruption during his time as Makati Mayor.

In another version of the ad where he speaks in his native Hiligaynon, Roxas says he’s not up to drama and is not a bully, referring to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“Why Mar? I don’t have drama and not asking for pity. And I’m not a bully and an abuser. Most importantly, I will not steal from you. No drama, just work,” Roxas said in the twenty-seconder ad.

READ MORE...

Meanwhile, in a release sent to reporters, Roxas reportedly “frowned” after hearing the negative attitude of the supporters of the rival camps who apparently felt alluded to by his political ad.

“Roxas insisted that the simple but sincere message was not in bad taste,” the release said.

Gutierrez defended the LP’s standard bearer, saying those who took the ad as “offensive” may have “hit the mark in their case.”

“They cannot throw any substantial issue against Secretary Mar so they resort to making up fantastic stories,” Gutierrez said.

“In the final analysis, Secretary Mar is a person focused on jobs and a person you can trust will not steal from you, will not abuse you and betray the trust of the public.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE NETIZENS' AD VIDEO

https://www.facebook.com/Mochablogger/videos/10153942878376522/

It can be recalled that most of the critics of Mar Roxas have issues against him because of the inadequate response during the Typhoon Yolanda in the city.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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