Mamasapano revisited

At about this time six years ago (0621H 25 January 2015), elements of the Special Action Force (SAF) sent on a mission to capture or exterminate terrorist Marwan were already in the thick of a firefight against a vastly superior force of BIFF and MILF rebels in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao.

I can imagine the well-trained commando force making their way to their extraction points as bullets whizzed over their heads, keeping the enemy at bay with their superior tactics and combat training.The SAF commandos weren’t worried as yet at this time, believing that reinforcements from nearby Army camps would come, aided by helicopter gunships and artillery fire.

Terrorist Marwan lies dead in Mamasapano. But it came at the cost of 44 lives of SAF commandos.

Indeed, the BIFF and MIFF could easily have been routed had there been an order for the Army and Air Force to swing into action.However, their Commander in Chief, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, kept the military on stand-by status even as the SAF commandos began taking casualties. Aquino must have thought he was playing a video game in which the good guys could defeat the bad guys with him at the consoles.

Without reinforcements, the SAF commandos found themselves pinned down. Sniper fire picked them at leisure. Their position was on level ground with no cover except for the corn planted on the field. They radioed in desperation: “Please send help.”

Army troops were only several hundred meters away. The soldiers wanted to rush forward and join the battle. But their orders were to stay put.

As it turned out, Aquino was more concerned about preserving the peace pact with the BIFF and MIFF crafted by a law professor named Mario Victor Leonen. He didn’t care about the lives of his own men. He felt he could win the Nobel Peace Prize if he could keep the peace accord intact.

Forty-four valiant SAF commandos perished in this lopsided battle, a battle that should have gone the other way — the good guys winning — had the Commander in Chief possessed good judgment.

The rest is history.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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