‘Lessons, takeaways from Mamasapano incident’

Artemio Dumlao - The Philippine Star
âLessons, takeaways from Mamasapano incidentâ
Jan. 25 is a Day of National Remembrance for the SAF 44.
Roel Pareño

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Mayor Benjamin Magalong has urged Filipinos to always remember the lessons of the Mamasapano incident, and at the same time underscored the key takeaways of the Mamasapano incident.

Magalong said the Mamasapano massacre is one of the bitter events in the country's history that needs to be retold to the succeeding generations of Filipinos because it can impart valuable lessons to the youth.

He also highlighted four key takeaways on the Mamasapano incident which resulted in the loss of lives of 44 personnel of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"First, the troops should follow the chain of command and eliminate personal interest," Magalong, a former deputy chief for operations of the PNP, said in a press briefing after the showing of the “Fallen Not Forgotten: The Untold Story of the Gallant SAF44.”

He cited the case of retired PNP general and officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina who was supposed to be the head of Operation Exodus but was apparently left out for unforeseen reasons.

Operation Exodus was implemented by the government under the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III to capture terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias  "Marwan” and Abdul Basit Usman.

“Every time there is an operation, you should consider the 4Cs-cohesiveness, communication, coordination and connection,” Magalong, who led the Board of Inquiry (BOI), said.

“You also have to consider the friendly forces because you have to rely on them in case your supply and logistics runs out. You should also vet the information you receive from the other people on the ground,” he added.

Magalong said another takeaway is to allow experts and tactical groups to call the shots during operations. "I hope one day, our commanders will allow the captains to handle the operations and encourage them to develop strategic thinking."

He recalled that he and the BOI left no stone unturned in bringing out the facts on the Mamasapano incident, stressing the 44 men did not die in vain.

“Our job as Board of Inquiry was to establish the facts. We were not there to investigate and become some sort of an investigation body to determine the culpability and liability of those involved. We were there to establish the facts. If you have noticed, instead of us saying that a murder was committed murder, we said he killed or stabbed a combatant,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re very transparent. Atty Karen Jimeno, who served as a member of the Board of Inquiry, knows that very well. If you have noticed, the first part of the report had a comics-type illustration to narrate the whole story.”

He described the report as unique because they gave a narration of the entire story before providing the facts contained in the investigation report.

Magalong stressed the BOI was very transparent from the start because they wanted to establish the facts, adding they risked their careers and personal goals. “After all that we’ve gone through, why hide the truth,” he explained.

Lawyer Felipe Cruz, executive producer of “The Untold Story of the Gallant SAF44,” said he decided to make the documentary to restore unity in the country.

Cruz said he wants to heal the distrust between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and discover the truth and calm the nation, especially the families of the 44 personnel killed during the anti-terrorist operation.

“The Mamasapano incident could tear the country apart and put in jeopardy the peace process in Mindanao. The best way for a concerned citizen like me was to probably restore unity in the country by bringing out the truth because there was so much political upheaval at that time,” Cruz said.



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