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Alternative fantasy

Who said this? And probably more importantly, what has he been smoking, apart from his usual Marlboros?

“The SAF was there. It’s impossible to doubt that the SAF took the finger of Marwan. This means, all that talk about alternative narratives is baseless and senseless.” [Translation mine.]

Why, that’s President Noynoy Aquino, of course, speaking yesterday at Malacañang Palace. And denying what he, only last week, had himself said.

Understand, it was Aquino who first brought up the idea of an “alternative version of events,” in relation to what happened in that now-famous cornfield in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. Before Aquino broke the news about that alternative narrative, no one had heard of it—not the Philippine National Police, not Congress, not anyone who had poked his or her nose into the massacre of 44 members of the Special Action Force.

Aquino explained that he had apparently been convinced that the alternative version was a mere figment of the imagination, after being presented with evidence gathered by the official investigators many months ago. And so he has come out to denounce the baseless and senseless (in Tagalog, he said, “walang basehan at walang saysay”) report that, he failed to point out, was attributed to him and him alone.

I understand that the alternative version, that the Malaysian bomb-maker Marwan had been killed by his own bodyguard, is not really just a product of Aquino’s fevered brain. That proposition was first expounded, as many have already pointed out, by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in its own report on the massacre.

But I’m sure even the MILF was surprised that Aquino was adopting its position at this late date. And if the intent of Aquino in bringing up his alternative version is to exonerate the secessionist rebels, as some have suspected, what was the MILF to do, since it had already admitted participating in the butchering of the SAF 44, even to point of returning some of the firearms rebel fighters had taken from the dead commandos?

So I can believe that Aquino had no plans of clearing the MILF when he proposed his alternate reality. Which leaves me wondering what on earth possessed him to talk about it in a televised interview.

He must have been smoking powerful stuff that day. There is just no other explanation.

* * *

What seems easy to understand is why Aquino decided to denounce himself—I mean, to reverse his position. The fallout from his alternative theory was so intense that he was left with no choice but to do so.

I’m talking about the reaction from the PNP, through its new chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, who said that the police organization was hurt and demoralized by the President’s theory. Also, the leader of the SAF at the time of the Mamasapano massacre, General Getulio Napenas, echoed the sentiments of many men in uniform when he said that the President’s revisionism demeaned the sacrifice of the 44 SAF commandos who were killed.

(I’m sorry, but I’m not buying the palace spin that there was a real reinvestigation of the tragic event to give “closure” to the incident that Aquino only happened to mention during his interview. In all likelihood, this supposed probe is as imaginary as  Aquino’s theory, dreamed up only as after-the-fact damage control in the wake of the President’s fantastic recounting of what he thinks really happened.)

Aquino must also have realized belatedly that he shouldn’t add any more weight to the burden already being carried by his presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, who has no choice but to declare that he will “continue on the straight path” in exchange for securing the President’s endorsement. Imagine how much more difficult it would be for Roxas to win, if he embraces Aquino’s loony theory about the killing of Marwan despite all the evidence already gathered a long time ago.

I submit that Aquino really wants to believe that what happened in Mamasapano isn’t as bad as the PNP Board of Inquiry and Congress have told the people in their own investigations. And because Aquino still cannot accept that he, as the Senate found, is ultimately responsible for the carnage, he will grab at any theory that promises to exonerate him from the charge of sending a bunch of SAF commandos to their death—and then not bringing in the reinforcements that could have saved them.

Of course, normal people, caught in the same situation as Aquino found himself in recently, would just acknowledge that they had been wrong and apologize. But we’ve all long known that Aquino never apologizes; what’s new is that he will go to the extent of berating himself in public, just so he isn’t forced to say he’s sorry for being mistaken.

Now, what kind of person would do something like that?

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