PRESIDENT Simeon Benigno Aquino III is refusing to apologize over the Mamasapano debacle that led to the “massacre” of 44 SAF troopers because he is dodging culpability for the deadly operation after his term ends in 2016, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago explained Wednesday.
But Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma insisted that there is nothing shameful in apologizing for the failed Mamasapano mission and the courage to apologize showed a great man and a real statesman, a point Santiago disputed because of the legal implications.
“Remember that when he is no longer President, he becomes liable to all manner of suits,” Santiago said, adding that apologizing for the disastrous operation could be considered a confession admissible in court.
“That is why he does not want to apologize. He wants to evade any criminal or even civil liability after 2016,” said Santiago, a former regional trial court judge.
The important hindsight question, she said would be “how should he have handled the situation?”
“It should have started at the very beginning. The truth should have been revealed immediately. The moment that the crisis began brewing, immediately the President should have, by himself, told the truth to the Filipino public,” said Santiago.
“Now, there is a question of, ‘Well if that is the truth, why are you not apologizing?’” Santiago asked.
Palma echoed Santiago’s point and advised Aquino to apologize because there is nothing shameful in admitting mistakes or lapses in judgement.
“For me, it’s also a sign of a great man to be sorry if we feel we are remiss so I leave that to him. For me, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you have done something wrong,” Palma said.
Palma is one of the many individuals who have been urging Aquino to apologize after the PNP Board of Inquiry found that the President may have bypassed the PNP chain of command.
Palma also urged the House of the Representatives to push through with the probe so the public may know the truth last Jan. 25.
Meanwhile, an interfaith council based in Mindanao reiterated the call for peace and unity between Christians and Muslims in the country, noting that it is through overcoming prejudice and reconciling with others that the much-yearned peace in the south may be achieved.
The Inter Faith Council of Leaders of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Zamboanga City urged Filipinos, Christians and Muslims alike, to promote unity and collaboration despite their cultural, religious, and individual differences.
“It is time to invite Christians in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines to overcome prejudice against Muslims, a prejudice becoming deeper than ever. The same effort has to be done by the Muslims and the IPs towards others outside their own groups,” the council said which was posted in an official Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.
Noting that the peace process in Mindanao is undergoing “serious strains”, the group urged parties involved in the peace negotiations to be more open for compromise and to “not remain rigid in their positions.”
“We still do not have a very clear formula for peace in Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been offered as one solution and we encourage those in power to consider it, approve it and accept it, introducing the changes that are claimed by many as necessary,” it said.
“We invite the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to consider and accept what is offered by the Senate and Congress of the Philippines as a good starting point for a deeper process of reconciliation that has to start first among the Muslim groups and move to the other cultural and religious groups in Mindanao,” it added.
The group also called on revolutionary movements to find solutions for understanding and collaboration in spite of different cultural and leadership concepts to “accept possible conditions for peace for a real progress and development within the pluralistic realities of Mindanao.”
With threats of religious radicalism and vested interests by international influences, peace efforts in Mindanao are being affected—if not manipulated—by powerful countries, the council noted.
“We cannot get all we wish for but each side can opt to do the best with what it can get. In this way we start a genuine process of reconciliation and prove that we are sincere and honest in our claims,” it said.
“The world is observing what we are doing. We cannot transform our situation as it has been done in other countries with internal conflicts but we have to demonstrate that we in the Philippines can live together with our variety of cultures and religions,” it added.
The group reiterated the importance of humility and wisdom in the attainment of peace.
“We, the IFCL members, are in solidarity with the victims of the conflict in Mindanao, those of the past and those of the most recent conflict. We believe that peace is still possible if each one moves with humility and wisdom as part of the same human family created to love each other,” it added.