EDITORIAL - Disorganized
(The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

In terms of command responsibility for the deaths in Mamasapano last year, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and the congressional committee headed by Sen. Grace Poe reached similar conclusions after the reopening of the probe the other day.

What was new for the public was the release of detailed exchanges of text messages among President Aquino, Alan Purisima who at the time was suspended as Philippine National Police chief, top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina and the commander of the police Special Action Force, Getulio Napeñas.

The text exchanges must have been presented to the senators last year in executive session since they didn’t find the messages new. The exchanges, combined with the testimonies of the military and police officers who attended the inquiry the other day, revealed a lack of coordination among security agencies that is worrisome in a country facing several serious armed threats.

Apart from supporting efforts to give justice to the 44 slain SAF commandos, the Senate probe should lead to changes in operational links between the military and police. Purisima, who was described by the Senate committee last year as the de facto commander of the operation, repeated that the manhunt for top Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, had to be compartmentalized because the military had been “compromised,” apparently by the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

While no one will admit it, there must have been resentment within the AFP that it was kept out of the loop, especially after news spread that Marwan had been neutralized and the SAF had accomplished its mission. In an age where everyone has a mobile phone, PNP and AFP officers did not think of calling each other directly to discuss the quickest way to extract the SAF from a massacre. Instead Napeñas texted his SOS for artillery bombardment, and the AFP texted back its request for more detailed coordinates. At the end of a long, bloody day, help arrived too late for the SAF 44.

Turf wars are common among security agencies around the world, but these can be set aside in the name of national interest. Safeguarding a peace process need not be incompatible with hunting down terrorists, especially one wanted for the nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia that left 202 people dead.

The tragedy in Mamasapano must lead to better coordination between military and police forces, with civilian authorities deciding which one should take the lead in counterterrorism. There is such a thing as interoperability, the lack of which, as Mamasapano has shown, can have dire consequences.

ALAN PURISIMA ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ATILDE GETULIO NAPE GRACE POE INSTEAD NAPE LEONARDO ESPINA MAMASAPANO MARWAN MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with