President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and former President Benigno Aquino III.
(PNL file photos)
Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio-Morales just filed criminal charges against
former president Benigno Aquino III for the botched military operation
commonly known as the Mamasapano Massacre. Former Philippine National
Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima and former Director Getulio
Napeñas of the Special Action Force (SAF) were likewise charged along
with Aquino. The three headed the 2015 police operation codenamed Oplan
Exodus where 44 SAF police officers were killed by the combined rebel
forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro
Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Many say it was a
blotched police/military operation and the families of the 44 police
officers killed, including those who survived, pin the blame on Aquino.
While the operation succeeded in killing Zulkifli Abdhir, an
international terrorist and expert bomb-maker from Malaysia, the SAF
members were eventually surrounded by MILF and BIFF rebels and many were
A lot of questions about
the incident remained unanswered during the Aquino administration. Oplan
Exodus it seems was poorly planned, with little to no contingencies,
scarce resources, and an appalling lack of coordination with military
units in the area. The Filipino public needs to hear from Aquino,
Purisima, and Napeñas. And if any of them are found guilty, they should
suffer the consequences.
This is also a shot
across the bow at current President Rodrigo Duterte and his
administration. No one is above the law. Even though as president you
may see yourself as invincible and beyond prosecutorial reach, you will
be made to answer for your actions after you step down. Duterte might
believe that his high public support will shield him from criminal
charges, but he could be sorely mistaken. And, like former dictator
Ferdinand Marcos, Duterte might try to cling to power in order to avoid
prosecution, but sooner or later, that too will fail like it did for
Marcos in 1986. So learn from the past Mr. President and remember that
you and your men are not above the law.