ROUGH CUTS| They did an Apostle Peter act

HOW SHOULD the public rate the performance of the police intelligence insofar as the Mamasapano, Maguindanao carnage of 44 members of the Police Special Action Force (SAF)? Maybe many will consider it extremely poor.

Come to think of it; the SAF decided to pursue the service of arrest warrant against “high value targets” based on “actionable intelligence” report from the police intelligence community. But the report’s “actionable” character appears to be solely on the presence of the two high value targets in that part of Maguindanao Province. Somehow, the SAF leadership did not bother to check on whether or not there were no intervening factors that were major hindrances to the successful service of the warrant.

Yes, there was enough basis to conclude that indeed, the subjects of the warrants were present in the area. But it’s a no brainer to know that it is Moro rebel territory. Besides, while recent incidents tell us that there is enmity among some Moro families and tribes, when confronted by common adversary they bury the hatchet and fight side by side to destroy the enemy.

Also, the SAF leadership probably forgot his lesson in the military school. It was as if the SAF command has forgotten that the highly trained policemen were plucked out from various assignments. Some came from Northern Luzon, others from the Visayas and a few from Zamboanga.

In other words they were not familiar with the place where they were to carry out the risky operation. Now, isn’t it a given that no matter how trained the policemen in combat if they were not in familiar territory, only a humiliating debacle can be expected. Therefore, no matter how dramatic was the admission of the SAF chief that he was responsible for the botched operation, there will always be suspicion that there was violation of the chain of command and a serious misjudgment by those who made the decision that the operation is a “go”.

Now, let’s go back to the “actionable intelligence” report that the police, and later President P’Noy mouthed. Did the police intelligence people really fail to hear or actually know that there are three camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the area? Were the members of the intelligence group of the government really clueless of the huge number of the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) armed elements who have been known coddling the internationally known members of terrorist organizations?

Meanwhile, the sacked SAF chief’s comparison of the Mamasapano operation to that of the US attack on the hiding place of world terrorist king Osama bin Laden will not hold water.

In the case of the Bin Laden operation it was the US government who sent a small contingent of heavily armed men backed up with sophisticated communications equipment and transport with its every move monitored by Washington with the President on hand and ready to give instruction.

On the other hand, the operation in Mamasapano involved a huge number of armed policemen trying to conceal their presence by not informing other armed operating units of the government and, by protocol, the MILF.

And why should government coordinate with the MILF? It is because it has signed with the Moro secessionist group a peace agreement which has several conditions to be followed prior to its full implementation. One such condition is where government is to undertake operation in MILF controlled areas the latter should be properly advised.

This failure to follow protocol was admitted by the SAF head and that his action was a “command decision” and that the operation has to be undertaken in no other time but on that fateful Sunday because the intelligence report they got was “actionable” on that very day.

The rest is now history, with pages bathed in blood of the 44 policemen mostly young officer graduates either of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) or the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

It is also a history of the police organization whose annals are laced with denials by its leaderships as well as by government executives that they have knowledge that the operation was launched. Both PNP director general OIC Leonardo Espina and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas even denied knowing who the operation’s ground commander was.

The two were like Apostle Peter denying Jesus hours before he was arrested by the Roman soldiers.

Posted in Opinion