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Friday, February 20, 2015

Dim prospects for justice


By Emil Jurado
It’s one blunder after another, Santa Banana!
That’s what is precisely happening with President Aquino’s failure—rather, refusal—to accept responsibility and accountability for the slaughter of 44 police commandos in the Mamasapano clash by the combined force of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group with ties with the Middle East jihadists, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
First, it took the President more than three days to react to the slaughter of the “Fallen 44,” which led many to suspect that a coverup was in the offing. True enough, later on, another mistake came with the President laying the blame on somebody else except himself. This, even when we know that sacked Philippine National Police-Special Action Force top man Getulio Napeñas could not have done it all by his lonesome self since there are people above him.
My gulay, since PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas were kept out of the loop upon the “advice” of suspended and now resigned police chief Alan Purisima, who then should be held accountable?
Then the President made that blunder of not attending the arrival of caskets at Villamor Air Base of the “Fallen 44”, showing lack of sensitivity, empathy and accountability. It poured salt on the wound of a grieving nation, and especially the loved ones of the slain policemen.
Another blunder: the President was so late in the necrological services, so much so that some of the grieving wives and relatives of the “Fallen 44” refused to receive the plaques and medals from the President who went around the caskets to pray. Santa Banana, the SAF met him with silence when he asked them to speak out. If Mr. Aquino still didn’t hear that message, he must have been deaf.
It has been over three week after the January 25 clash in  Mamasapano. And we are still crying out for answers.
At the rate things are going, I am afraid that truth is the biggest casualty.
When talks of destabilization and calls for resignation of the President surfaced, I warned Malacañang that it should take them lightly. But now it seems that things are taking a turn for the worse.
Santa Banana, with Catholic bishops and cardinals now calling for accountability, the President can no longer hide his head like an ostrich. The people are angered and in anguish, and for the President to claim that he was not responsible insults his “bosses,” especially so since his uncle and aunt-in-law have joined the cry for change.
Whether the President admits it or not, the country is now hanging precariously.
* * *
Reports have it that the Moro rebels are now preparing for war against the government. They could be true and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should not just be complacent about it, especially so with the mood of Congress not to allow the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be enacted “as is.”
At this point I cannot but recall during the Marcos regime when the Moro rebels under Nur Misuari were calling for independence. There were also clashes with government troops. What did the late strongman-dictator Ferdinand Marcos do? He bribed all the MNLF commanders with logging concessions and quota allocations for sardine, grapes and apples. There was apparent peace. In other words, the Moro rebels were given the things they wanted-money and power. As a result, Nur Misuari became irrelevant that we went to Egypt on self-exile.
But, when President Aquino’s late mother, Cory became President in 1986, she sent former Senator Nene Pimentel and Butch Aquino, her brother-in-law, to Cairo to bring back Misuari. But what did Misuari do? He had the Moro rebels regroup under the Moro National Liberation Front and started having clashes with government. And since Misuari is a Tausug, the Maguindanao formed their own MILF, as a breakaway group. That’s how its among the Moros-a Maguindanoan cannot get along with Tausugs, and neither can the Maranaos in Lanao get along with the Tausugs and Maguindanoans.
Now, the MNLF has three factions, with the MILF and the BIFF as the main breakaway group. If you study well enough Moro culture and history, they are tribal, clannish and feudalists so much that their main enemy is government, which claims control over them. That’s why those who know Moro culture and history will tell you that final peace in Mindanao cannot be achieved in our lifetime, not with government negotiating peace only with the MILF, and not unless government gives them all they want under the BBL.
Justice for the “Fallen 44” How can justice be given them when the MILF insists that the Mamasapano clash was a “misencounter” with the PNP-SAF intruded into MILF-controlled territory without the PNP-SAF asking permission? Even the viral video showing a wounded police commando being shot at close range with his bullet-proof vest removed is being denied done by the MILF. The MILF also denies that Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman were in their territory and aware of their presence. That’s duplicity of the worst kind when we all know that both terrorists do not travel alone.
Neither can the wives and relatives of the “Fallen 44” expect justice from the armed forces which failed miserably to reinforce the PNP-SAF when the AFP could have done it sooner to at least minimize the loss of lives.
Santa Banana, there was an apparent attempt to isolate President Aquino from blame and responsibility for the slaughter of the “Fallen 44” when Mar Roxas, together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang said that while they were all with the President in Zamboanga City, they did not inform the President of the Mamasapano massacre.
Worst, when asked if resigned Police Chief Alan Purisima informed the President, would you believe that he wanted to seek the permission of the President before answering the question?
* * *
The decades-old controversy between the Bases Conversion Development Authority and developer Bob Sobrepeñas’ Camp John Hay Development Corp. over the former American base Camp John Hay in Baguio is far from over despite the decision of the Arbitration Board regarding the Camp.
In a meeting of the BCDA board yesterday, the state agency questioned the Arbitration Board order to the BCDA to pay the CJHDeveco P1.42 billion representing damages based on rental payments since 1996 when the Sobrepeña group won the award for the development of Camp John Hay.
The BCDA board also questioned the Arbitration Board’s denial of BCDA’s claim for P3.3 billion in back rentals from CJHDevco, which made CJHDevco allegedly free and clear of any liabilities to BCDA.
While the BCDA wants to assure all locators and all sub-lessees that entered into contracts with CJHDevco that it would respect all rights in accordance to law, being in good faith, the issue has set back full development of the area as a tourist destination in the North. And the biggest victim here is the Baguio city government,  which by law is entitled to 25 percent of all the rentals paid by the developer to the BCDA.
For one thing, the award of P1.42 billion by the BCDA to CJHDevco still has to be confirmed by the Regional Trial Court of the city of Baguio.
What makes matter worse is an announcement by BCDA that all locators and sub-lessees must now consult with the BCDA for their status with the decision that both BCDA and CJHDevco have reverted to their pre-lease agreement. This supposedly means that because of mutual breach of contract, there’s no agreement to speak of.

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