Aquino accepts responsibility for 44 fallen SAF men
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - February 6, 2015 - 7:47pm

MANILA, Philippines —  President Benigno Aquino III on Friday night took full responsibility for the deaths of the 44 elite Special Action Force (SAF) men killed in an operation in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

In his second nationally televised address after the tragic government forces' encounter with Moro rebels, Aquino said that he carries the weight of both the success and tragedy of the anti-terrorist operation.

"Bilang Pangulo at Commander-in-Chief, pasan ko naman po ang responsibilidad para sa anumang resulta, sa anumang tagumpay, pasakit, o trahedya, na maaari nating matamasa sa paghahangad ng pangmatagalang seguridad at kapayapaan," Aquino said.

He added: "Ako ang Ama ng Bayan, at 44 sa aking mga anak ang nasawi. Hindi na sila maibabalik; nangyari ang trahedya sa ilalim ng aking panunungkulan; dadalhin ko po hanggang sa huling mga araw ko ang pangyayaring ito. Responsibilidad ko po sila, kasama ang buong puwersa ng SAF sa operasyong ito, pati na ang mga nagligtas sa kanila na nalagay din sa panganib ang buhay."

"Gaya po ng responsibilidad ko sa inyong mga mahal sa buhay, responsibilidad ko rin kayo; tungkulin kong siguruhing masusuklian nang tama ang sakripisyo ng inyong mga kaanak," Aquino said, addressing the kin of the slain troopers.

He vowed to provide for the families in grief as long as he is president.

"Iyon pa rin po ang panata ko sa inyo: Sa nalalabi kong labimpitong buwan sa puwesto, ginagawa ko na at gagawin ko pa ang lahat ng nararapat para tiyaking nasa maayos ang inyong kalagayan," Aquino said.

Aquino also expressed his impatience to learn the results of the investigation and bring justice to the 44 SAF members.

He said that because he also wanted to immediately know what went wrong in the operation, he conducted his own research on the incident as it is his "responsibility" to determine in the earliest possible time what really happened.

"Malinaw pong lumalabas: Malayo na ang sitwasyong dinatnan ng mga tropa, sa inasahan sa plano," he said.

WATCH: Aquino's second address after Mamasapano clash

The president, however, reiterated that it was the relieved commander of the SAF, Director Getulio Napeñas, who should have had "situational awareness" as he knows the full details of the operation.

He also hinted at what Napeñas could have done to prevent the killing of his men.

"Sa ating pag-aaral sa talagang nangyari, dahil nga malaki na ang ipinagbago ng sitwasyong dinatnan sa inaasahan na plano, may di-bababa sa tatlong pagkakataon kung kailan maaaring in-abort o pinagpaliban ang operasyon, o di kaya'y binago nang husto ang plano," Aquino said.

He said all his questions on why the mission still pushed through will be answered by the sacked SAF chief as he faces the board of inquiry, which has been formed by the PNP.

In the same speech, Aquino confirmed the resignation of suspended police chief Director General Alan Purisima, who has been tagged as the brains behind the operation targeting international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, and Basit Usman.

Amid reports of a coup plot, Aquino's Cabinet members, the top brass of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. were all present for the address in Malacañang.

AQUINO BASIT USMAN BELMONTE JR. BILANG PANGULO DIRECTOR GENERAL ALAN PURISIMA DIRECTOR GETULIO NAPE DRILON AND HOUSE SPEAKER FELICIANO
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