No alternate truth

It all started in a small media forum in Iloilo where President Aquino said that he wanted further investigation conducted to determine what actually transpired during the Mamasapano encounter on that fateful day of January 25.

According to the President, there is an emerging development that is pointing to what he would term as the alternate truth. As if on cue, a major broadsheet came out with an article quoting the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces that he too would like to follow up some leads that might change the accepted Mamasapano narrative.

Another AFP officer in that same article also blasted the so-called incompetent handling of the operation by the Philippine National Police, opening the wounds that were supposed to have been healed by those unity marches of AFP and PNP personnel at the height of Mamasapano inquiries.

Now, this so-called search for the alternate truth has become another full-blown controversy. Instead of focusing on important problems affecting the lives of millions of citizens, like the traffic problem and inefficient public transportation, Malacañang wants to revisit Mamasapano. To muddle the issue some more, this same broadsheet released a picture purportedly to be of a dead American who was part of those present at the SAF command post located far from the encounter. The picture, by the way, does not at all show that the deceased person was actually Caucasian. The United States embassy has repeatedly denied that any US government personnel, either military or civilian, died in that encounter. In the exhaustive Senate, PNP and House inquires, nothing was also mentioned about a dead American. 

The President says that he only wants to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But he does know the whole truth because he was in it from the very beginning, from the planning to the jump off. He even provided some advice to the senior commanders. In addition, the President is the repository of all intelligence reports in this country. If there is anyone who knows the whole story, it is him.

There must be another reason why he wants to revisit the tragedy of Mamasapano which has become one of the worst demonstrations of presidential leadership in our country’s history. Although the public has grown accustomed to Mr. Aquino’s often-complicated behavior, his handling of the Mamasapano issue really showed his complex personality. The big question is why does he even want to reopen the wound which is beginning to heal at this late stage of his presidency.

Not only that. He is in the process of trying to convince people to vote for his anointed successor to continue his so-called legacy.

It is hard to fathom what goes on in the head of this person. Eventually, in the not-too-distant future, the public will find out the reasons for such a move. But right now, we can only have an educated guess. It might be that he wants a clean slate when he leaves office. The PNP and Senate reports squarely laid the blame on him. The findings of these two investigations were never contradicted by any of the government agencies that investigated the incident. The Office of the Ombudsman has charged both Alan Purisima and Getulio Napeñas. Napeñas, because of the case brought against him, was not able to collect all his retirement benefits except for his accrued leave and now has to work to support his family.  The DOJ has never completed its so-called investigation and with this new twist, Secretary De Lima was quoted as saying that the DOJ would consider this alternate version.

Since only the Senate and PNP reports have indicted the President, it stands to reason that he does not want this blemish hovering over his head in what he believes is his sterling record. With a new investigation, these two damning conclusions could be wiped out clean.

This is wishful thinking. Nothing will erase what the people already know. No amount of alternate versions would change the people’s mind. Besides, does the President expect the people to embrace the version of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which seems to be what he prefers? We must remember that unlike the Senate and PNP inquiries which were exhaustive, transparent and open to the public, the MILF report was done by them alone.

The new issues being raised by the broadsheet reporter about the body position of Marwan and the bullets that entered the hut where Marwan was sleeping are only meant to raise doubts to what has already been investigated. How for instance could the reporter have counted how many bullets entered or went out of a hut made of sawali? It would have been almost impossible to determine that.

One outcome of this search for the alternate truth is that the morale of the PNP which was slowly improving has again taken a hit. It seems that the President cannot let the issue to rest and is showing his partiality to the AFP which is not good in a Commander in Chief.

The President should remember that the PNP, or the then-Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police has stood by his family through thick and thin since the 1986 Edsa revolt and the many succeeding coup attempts to topple his mother’s administration. Maybe he should pause for one moment and reflect on that.

As we often say as Filipinos, he who does not know how to appreciate a debt of gratitude is going to be damned forever.  The Palace should just let Mamasapano rest.

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