This act is the height of barbarity which was brought to even more monstrous heights by the callous recording of the killing on video which has already gone viral on social media. The killing was done with extreme cruelty by deliberately and inhumanely increasing the suffering of the victim. We cannot even begin to imagine the pain and anguish of the family, comrades, and friends and loved ones of the slain SAF member when they saw this video.
Under the International Humanitarian Law, it is strictly prohibited to inflict injury to combatants who are no longer capable of fighting. This is also provided for by the Geneva Convention, Hague Convention and International Customary Law. Moreover, the act of killing an already unarmed and defenseless combatant is defined as murder under the Revised Penal Code.
We strongly demand from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to explain this act of violence. It can be recalled that the MILF leadership made a categorical statement that they engaged SAF troopers in Brgy. Tukanalipao, Mamasapano. We demand the MILF to ascertain if the perpetrator/s is from their own ranks or from other armed groups, arrest the person/s responsible and surrender them to the government so that justice may be served. The fact that this crime happened within their territory necessitate that they take definite action toward truth, justice and accountability. The MILF cannot sweep this under the rug and wiggle itself out of this issue by again saying that this happened under the “heat of the battle.” Clearly, the basic human right of a defenseless combatant was violated. Without a doubt, murder was committed. For the MILF to fail to respond adequately on this matter is to fail its claimed “long-held desire” for peace and justice for the Bangsamoro.
Likewise, we call on the Aquino government to mobilize all its relevant agencies and swiftly act on this violent incident and with full determination exact justice. We specifically call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) with the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as a third party to investigate the wanton violation of human rights shown in the video At this time of grief, anger and confusion, the Filipino people require that their government to exercise firm leadership in providing a steady hand in seeking justice and in steering the country back in the right direction.
We are also calling on the public to be sensitive and respectful of the anguish of the family of the victim by not spreading the said video. We appeal to the public to exercise restraint and avoid fanning the flames of hatred and reducing this matter into a “Christian vs. Muslim” conflict. We must remember that two of the “Fallen 44” were Muslims and that the great majority of the Filipino Muslim community is equally disgusted by this atrocity.
We call, too, on the media to be more cautious when reporting and commenting on this very sensitive matter. We trust our media practitioners will act as a sober voice and pursue a calm and rationale discourse on this issue.
The fate of peace in Mindanao hangs in the balance. On one hand, the enemies of peace composed of terrorists, war-profiteers and right-wing warmongers are hoping that the Mamasapano incident will cause the collapse of the peace process and bring us back to war. On the other hand, are the millions of Filipinos who are tired of the sufferings that war brings and who yearn for the blessing of lasting peace, and yet are being seduced by the allure of revenge and all-out war. Now more than ever, the Filipino people must close ranks and ensure that what they have invested in the pursuit of peace will not be wasted. It will be difficult, no doubt, and further pain is expected as we seek the truth and exact justice for all those who have fallen in Mamasapano. Certainly, for many among us, our faith in the peace process has been shaken. Yet, we have no choice but to stay the course of peace. But for now there has to be a full accounting by and a reckoning with the Government and MILF if this peace agreement is to be brought to its logical conclusion.
PLM calls for an open and independent inquiry on the Mamasapano tragedy
By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) commiserates with the families of the police forces slain in the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
We join the voices of people calling for an open and independent investigation on what really happened during the encounter.
So far we have heard the explanations from SAF chief Getulio Napeñas, from acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina, and even from President Noynoy Aquino himself. But their statements spawned a lot of questions that still need answers.
Who from the higher-up really ordered the SAF operation? This is a critical issue as the answer will pinpoint the degree of responsibility of those involved in the botched operation which claimed the lives of 44 police commandos and other combatants and non-combatants in the area.
We want to know the role of the U.S. forces in the operation, as there are reports that they were in the vicinity right after the operation. The United States was also responsible for offering the bounty of $9 million dollars for the heads of Murwan and Usman, and it could have been informed of the operation beforehand.
Only through an open investigation conducted by an independent body, such as the Commission on Human Rights, with the participation of concerned people’s organizations and civil society organizations, especially in the Bangsamoro region, can the truth be known, and appropriate actions taken.
Lastly, PLM reiterates its support to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as a step towards attainment of peace and autonomy for the Bangsamoro people. We are concerned that the BBL, already watered down, will be stymied by legislators clamoring for the punishment of the MILF. We find the demands of Senator Frank Drilon and others for the MILF's surrender of Usman and Arwan, both of whom do not belong to the MILF, ludicrous and merely designed to scuttle the BBL process. We definitely reject the calls of right-wingers to go back to the all-out war policy and to use the horrendous incident to inflame hatred against the MILF and the Bangsamoro people.
Justice and Peace to the "Fallen 44" and to the Victims of an Unjust War in Mindanao
STATEMENT BY MILITANT LABOR ON THE MAMASAPANO ENCOUNTER:
The militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) joins the Filipino people in their seething cry for justice and peace to the "fallen 44" of the police special action force, as well as to the unnamed Moro civilians and rebels who were also killed in the Mamapasano tragedy.
We likewise convey our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of our dearly-departed brave servicemen. May your gallant sons rest in peace, knowing that millions of Filipinos will never forget their self-sacrifice.
Justice to the Fallen 44! Not the kind of vengeful justice that seeks an eye for an eye, pursued by warmongers like Erap Estrada, Raffy Alunan, Allan Cayetano, Bongbong Marcos and Teddy Boy Locsin. These publicity-hungry politicians are now eager to beat the war-drums. Yet, if an all-out offensive is declared, they would never trade their pampered comforts for the unfathomable hardships in the frontlines of war.
We seek a justice that is rooted in solidarity with "wage-workers in police and soldiers uniform". Like us, they are toilers. They are at the bottom of a chain of command like workers and the propertyless masses at the base of an unjust social pyramid.
Like workers, who are first to sacrifice during economic crises but are last to benefit from growth and prosperity, waged soldiers and police are always the first to sacrifice during armed conflicts but would be the last to benefit from a peace that they have paid for in blood.
Thus, we join the Filipino people in their demand for a thorough investigation of the Mamasapano mis-encounter in Maguindanao.
The BMP, however, calls on the public to consider the following points:
1. The immediate cause of the slaughter of the PNP-SAF servicemen was the apparent lack of coordination between their team and the Western Mindanao Command of the AFP, the Maguindanao PNP, local government units and the reckless disregard of carefully-laid down procedures agreed to by both MILF and the Philippine government;
2. The lack of coordination, that caused the bungled operation, was induced by the overzealousness to cash in from the $6 million bounty for the capture of terrorists Zulkifli Abdhir alias "Marwan" and Basit Usman, who are the global terror watchlist of the US State Department;
3. Officials - both civilian and military - were more intent on capturing the bragging rights for the arrest of Marwan and Basit in order to appease imperialist America, rather than ensuring the success of the PNP-SAF mission; and,
4. Lastly, and more importantly, the root cause of the problem is not with the Bangsamoro people but with the elite-dominated Philippine state. It is an elitist government that perennially tramples upon the right to self-determination of the Moro people. The Philippine government has a history of subservience to external powers - not just to the American government but to an entire legion of transnational monopoly corporations. Hence, not only does not it respect the heroic and historic sacrifice of the Bangsamoro to keep it free from colonizers, it also sought to subjugate the Bangsamoro and other indigenous tribes to the control of foreign powers.
More so, it is callous and insensitive regime, headed by an absentee landlord who would rather grace the opening of a multinational car factory in Laguna than honor his dead soldiers with his commanding presence at the Villamor Airbase. Once more, Noynoy paraded a conduct unbecoming of a president of the republic and of a commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Also, we extend our solidarity to the PNP and AFP, especially to its rank-and-file, who share a common plight with us as members of the working class, as proletarian wage slaves.
You deserve a better commander-in-chief. One that has the guts to own up to his errors, especially if it caused the untimely and avoidable death of his subordinates. One that honors the supreme sacrifice of his men by highlighting their lives rather his own (or his parents in yesterday's necrological services) and by making sure that they are not sent to fight and die for unjust wars for colonization.
We deserve a better government. One that is truly run by the people, of the people and for the people. Unlike this non-performing elitist state that continues to wallow in the showbiz politics of grandstanding, and the economics of wholesale plunder by local and foreign capital.
Finally, for us to truly give justice to the "Fallen 44" and the nameless Moros who were also killed in the Mamasapano mis-encounter, we must address the root and immediate causes of their untimely demise.
Wage workers - both unarmed civilians in the public and private sectors, and armed public servants of the military and police - must unite and fight for social change - not just regime change. The oppressed proletarians in both the Philippines and "Muslim Mindanao" must unite against our real enemies: the ruling landed or capitalist classes -- foreign, Filipino, and Moro -- who profit from our collective toil and seek to sabotage our unity as a class.
We must work tirelessly for peace based on justice to reign in Mindanao. Put an end to exploitation based on creed, color, sexual preference and social status. Forge the unity of Filipinos and the Bangsamoro towards just and peaceful communities; where those who work truly enjoy the fruits of their labor; where human sources of life, both nature and labor, have the primacy over corporate profit; where the interests of the toiling majority rule over the privileged minority; and where everyone is able to develop their full humanity, their full potential as human beings.
Union of Filipino Workers (BMP)
Denying the Bangsamoro of their right to self-determination means denying peace
By Sanlakas (Unified Force)
SANLAKAS fully supports all progressively principled and meaningful solutions to achieve a lasting peace for Mindanao directly related to the Bangsamoro Question. Any such measures aimed at resolving this national question must be based on concretely attaining real social justice for the oppressed Bangsamoro nation. Achieving this will be a strategic answer to a centuries-old dilemma that has haunted the Philippine State.
Tensions once more rose on January 25, 2015 in the aftershock of a bloody battle in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. It reportedly resulted in the deaths of 44 policemen of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) and 18 fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF); scores of civilians and non-combatants were also killed in the crossfire, with many others wounded. Likewise, the spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement-Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFM-BIFF) claimed that its own fighters also battled with the same composite SAF unit. In this very tragic aftermath, SANLAKAS expresses its sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to all the families and loved ones of the protagonists who lost their lives in Mindanao’s latest, but avoidable carnage.
The Bangsamoro people have long suffered gross and untold historic injustices since the US occupation and at the hands of the Philippine State led by its elite. As a result, not a few Bangsamoro have taken up arms to resist and fight back. And they do so to shape their own national future as a nation. In this regard, therefore, it is now totally imperative that the historically-oppressed peoples of the Bangsamoro homeland be allowed to collectively express, and to rightfully determine their own national aspirations as a free and sovereign people.
SANLAKAS believes that for peace to be achieved in Mindanao, the Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination must be respected and recognized. Their struggle is no different from our nation’s struggle under centuries of colonial subjugation, against the tyranny of the Spanish, American and Japanese colonizers. Thus, Filipinos should be in the best position to understand that there can be no genuine peace if there is no social justice, that peace would remain an elusive ideal when entire nations and oppressed ethno-cultural communities are deprived of their right to determine their own destinies. We, therefore, cannot become colonizers of the Bangsamoro people by refusing and denying them what previous generations of Filipinos steadfastly fought and died for, that is – the right to self-determination.
However, the current national political situation is one that is sharply alarming. It starkly reflects the direct outcome of the Battle in Mamasapano. Rabid war proponents and right-wing tendencies are already exploiting the situation for maximum explosive effect upon the Filipino national psyche to trigger yet another terribly devastating ‘All-out War’ against the Bangsamoro nation.
In recent public pronouncements by these reactionary spoilers of the ongoing peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, they now want the so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the lynchpin instrument for an acceptable peace earlier approved by the MILF’s Central Committee, to be junked. While they earlier criticized the GPH-MILF peace process, specifically the BBL, on constitutional grounds, they now want it totally scrapped in reaction to the unfortunate loss of the 44 SAF troops.
AMERICA’S DAGGER IN MINDANAO
Yet amidst all this confused tension, the interventionist maneuvers and ploys of the US persist. America’s openly expressed role in the Philippines is to directly assist Philippine state security forces in the latter’s fight against international terrorism, as clearly witnessed in the aftermath of the Mamasapano Battle. On this front, Washington’s intrusion is fundamentally linked to its geostrategic agenda to secure and dominate access to Asia’s vast and fast-growing regional economic markets via political-security means. This is chiefly aimed at the current survival of America’s own capitalist-imperialist system after the near-collapse of Wall Street on September 15, 2008, plus the global capitalist system’s ensuing crisis. Thus, it is centrally focused on pre-positioning US military forces across bases within the region to protect American profits and interests, but under the pretext of fighting international terrorism in collaboration with its puppet states.
In this setting, American strategic interests intend to transform Mindanao, including the Bangsamoro homeland, into a forward projection base akin to a globally-extended dagger. This ‘American dagger’ will be aimed (externally) at its top regional rival, China; although its real intentions of doing so will be hidden from public view. Yet at the same time, it will also be targeted (internally) on “international terrorist targets”, as repeatedly stated in public. This latter justification is now used to veil America’s primary covert intentions in order for it to use Mindanao as a major base of operations for its flanking maneuvers against Beijing. Through this approach, the US can readily take full advantage of its relations with both the PNoy Regime and the MILF and thus, be in a position to exploit greater political leverage and economic gains from both. For as long as American imperialism’s regional scheme to counter China is secured, the outcome of the Philippine State’s peace process with the Bangsamoro would not matter much to the US.
For now, America’s presence in our country still reflects its post-9/11 ‘Global War of Terror’ legacy. It is precisely this militarist aspect of US imperialism’s aggressive worldwide thrust which the PNoy Regime has eagerly invited and consciously welcomed onto Philippine soil. And it is Mindanao which has already become a major battleground for US imperialism’s unfolding shadow war throughout the area. Alas, our country is now reaping what Malacañang has so earnestly sowed.
THE SANLAKAS STANDPOINT
Another war is definitely not in the interests of both the Filipino and Bangsamoro working classes and poor masses who will stand to suffer the most. We must shudder at the thought of mothers losing their sons and daughters, of families torn apart, of homes deserted, of communities displaced and razed to the ground as a consequence of yet another reactionary war.
Hence, SANLAKAS appeals upon all democratic and peace-loving peoples to join it in undertaking a collective national stand for genuine peace concerning the Bangsamoro nation. SANLAKAS now calls upon the Filipino masses to urgently demand for, and to advance the following positions:
• The Bangsamoro nation’s right to self-determination must be fully respected and recognized as a democratic principle. Its pursuit and outcome must be plainly upheld and clearly accepted by the Philippine State and its majority Filipino nation.
• As the Head of State, President Noynoy Aquino, as well as ranking officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who masterminded Oplan Wolverine, must take full responsibility and accept total accountability for criminal negligence. The President cannot pass the blame for an operation executed under the auspices of his Office. Command responsibility dictates accountability.
• The current framework objectives of the GPH-MILF Peace Process must be allowed to reach a just conclusion by both signatory parties; and all reactionary spoilers to the peace process must be resisted and stopped.
• The peace process in Mindanao must be broadened to greatly encompass and include other political factions/formations who are not presently involved in the GPH-MILF Peace Process in recognition of their right to self-determination. In this new multi-front peace process context, the general masses of the Bangsamoro nation must also be recognized, encouraged and allowed to actively and directly participate in the negotiations proper in order to help bring about deeper and enhanced solutions to the Bangsamoro Question.
• The dual-faced character and dangerous intentions of US imperialism, both inside the Philippines and in its lingering engagement with the MILF, must be totally unmasked and exposed before the Filipino and Bangsamoro peoples. This is very necessary so that both sides can both learn to build confidence as peace partners together.
• All US military forces in the Philippines, especially those operating in Mindanao, must right away be expelled from the country; and relatedly, all bilateral defense agreements and war instruments between Manila and Washington should promptly be abrogated. Effectively, we must pursue an independent and progressive foreign policy – one which will not compromise the sovereignty of the peoples within the Philippine State.
• The establishment of a multi-stakeholder ‘Independent People’s Commission of Inquiry’ must immediately be undertaken. Its role shall be to ferret out the truth as to what really happened before, during and after the January 25, 2015 Battle in Mamaspano. This is needed in order to establish and assign official accountability on the appropriate government and PNP officials (aside from PNoy himself), and to settle the issue publicly once and for all. The Commission’s mandate, scope and functions shall be parallel to the official investigations being pursued by various government bodies. Government investigations must result in actual prosecution of those responsible.
Sentro slams sectors sowing anti-muslim prejudice and anti-peace talks sentiments after Mamasapano
SEEPING OUT of the so-called “misencounter” last Jan. 25 are the troubling questions and apparent evasions and cover-ups: Who really are responsible for sending the PNP-SAF troops into a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao? Why did this police operation flagrantly disregard the existing ceasefire mechanisms, including not notifying the Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)? What are the exact roles and how are is the accountability here of President Benigno Aquino III; his favorite PNP chief, the suspended Alan Purisima; his alter ego and executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa; and the shadowy US military-led Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines?
However, these are not the only ones that unfortunately cropped up in the Mamasapano incident. Impulsive hawks with their knee-jerk reaction and rightwing demagogues with their messianic blabbers are fanning the flames of Islamaphobia or indiscriminate hatred and distrust of anything Muslim, of Hollywood-inspired call to arms for an all-out war, of a distorted black and white worldview of good and evil, of wholesale anti-MILF stance, of reckless and sweeping call to terminate the peace process between the government and the MILF.
Centuries of attempts to violently subjugate and wantonly exploit the peoples in Mindanao (or anywhere else for that matter) – from the colonial invaders to Manila-based “imperial” government – have resulted only to interludes of fleeting “peace and order” but followed again and again by either scattered or organized uprisings. Indeed, a long lasting peace will be realized if genuine justice and freedom are ensured. On the other hand, sincerely talking and striving for peace, however difficult and painstaking, is also a very promising avenue for paving the way for this elusive “peace with justice” dream.
Thus, while actively seeking honest and unedited answers to the Mamasapano incident – from both the government and the MILF – we must consciously strive for an inclusive justice to ALL those who have fallen from this tragedy – the 44 PNP-SAF personnel, the 7 unnamed civilians and the 18 MILF fighters. Their respective families also lost a husband, father, brother, kin, comrade and friend.
This is why the DepEd directive – that during flag raising ceremonies, schoolchildren should offer one second of silence to every SAF operative killed “plus one more second for all other casualties” – is a half-baked tribute for justice and peace. Why not extend the same homage to every civilian and MILF fighters who were also killed in Mamasapano? What does such a “tribute” tell our kids? That the life of one PNP-SAF is equal to the lives of all the civilians and MILF who were killed?
We must continue to support the current peace process as it remains a viable, just and enduring solution to the never-ending armed conflict in Mindanao. At the same time, any form of religious or racial bigotry should be vigorously opposed as it has no place in human society and it would only further inflame anger, violence and mistrust.
United Progressive Labor Center (Sentro)
We won’t get justice by counting more dead; war is not the answer
By Labor Party - Philippines
Partido Manggagawa (PM) joins the nation in mourning the death of SAF 44. As breadwinners, husbands, and brothers to their families, their death is certainly a big loss, a pain that is hard and long to overcome.
And as soldiers who were trained how to survive under the most difficult situations, their undeserved deaths cry for justice. Who were the officers in charge? Who were the people accountable for the Mamasapano debacle? Was there a foreign hand behind that operation?
We continue to ask the same questions as we join the people in demanding justice and accountability from both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Their separate investigations must be done in good faith and in soonest possible time. An independent fact finding body can also be organized to ensure fairness and objectivity in the conduct of investigations.
But in seeking justice, we express our strong disagreement to those who call for all-out war to exact retribution. War is not the solution. Justice, we believe, should not come as a consequence of another war. We don’t get justice by counting more dead as what we have seen over many decades of war in Mindanao. We don’t get the truth from hatred and established social and religious prejudices.
Lastly, despite this major setback, we remain supportive of the peace process between the government and the MILF. Working for peace, however tough and tricky it is, remains to be the most effective and viable alternative in addressing the historic and new issues that created the conditions of war in Mindanao.
Call for Sobriety and Reason: Statement on Mamasapano Incident
In this time of sorrow, the officers and members of the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM) would like to extend our sympathy to the grieving families of the fallen members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) and civilians in the Mamasapano incident last January 25, 2015.
Since our inception in June 2000, we have been committed to the realization of peace in Mindanao by upholding human rights and dignity and the importance of the Bangsamoro, indigenous peoples and migrants’ solidarity. It is on this premise that we appeal to everyone for sobriety and reason and choose the path of peace in demanding justice for those who have fallen.
For the last three years, skirmishes and armed conflicts in Central Mindanao have been considerably reduced if not altogether ceased. We owe this to the ceasefire and functioning mechanisms put in place as a result of the GPH-MILF peace talks. Like many sectors, we are inquiring what happened in Mamasapano because we refuse to make assumptions and point an accusing finger without first hearing what really transpired on that fateful day. Thus, we demand for an independent inquiry to look into the events surrounding the incident and demand accountability from the author/s of the said debacle and impose sanctions thereof. While at this, the GPH and MILF should review and ensure that from their highest to the lowest ranks must fully understand, honor and respect the ceasefire mechanisms to avoid similar incident from happening again.
We respect the grieving comrade-in-arms of both the government forces and MILF/BIAF. It is understandable if they will let warmongers persuade them to exact vengeance in the battlefields. However, war will never be a solution to the current situation. Rather, this will cause more lost lives and irreparable damage especially to the civilian population who will stand to be most affected. Thus, we call upon both sides to hold their ranks and don’t let the warmongering calls get the better of them.
At this time, it is the media that have the capacity to dig into sources from both sides and the affected communities. It does not help to sensationalize the news with the intention of stirring emotions of hatred and thirst for revenge from all sides. We call on the media to be the bastion of impartiality, and let the voice of reason and calm resonate in this trying times.
The peace process has come a long way. It is not only the GPH and the MILF that have invested time, effort and resources to bring it to where it is now. Ordinary people and communities have placed their hopes on this peace process especially now that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is undergoing deliberations in both houses of Congress. While the BBL is not without its flaws, we don’t believe that suspending or aborting the process is the wise thing to do. We should not make the BBL the sacrificial lamb as a consequence to the violence in Mamasapano. We enjoin the legislators to stay the course by continuing the deliberations on the BBL until its final conclusion and make it genuinely inclusive and relevant to the peoples of Mindanao.
Let the Mamasapano incident be the gripping force for the legislators to perfect the BBL to provide an environment where a culture of war and impunity is dismantled for the children of the future to live free from violence and oppression.
We appeal to some politicians, public figures and the warmongers to refrain from issuing provocative statements instigating war. It is very easy to call for an “All Out War” from the comfort of your offices and homes when it is not your love ones, family and community who will be affected and will suffer the brunt of another cycle of senseless violence, death and destruction.
Let the way to peace be peace itself – not war. The Mamasapano incident is a sad reminder and lesson for all of us especially the primary peace actors in peacemaking that there should be no more collateral damage in any peace processes – the likes of women, children, Indigenous Peoples, farmers among other stakeholders’ rights and welfare.
On our part, we commit to continue our adherence to public peace processes to help prevent the recurrence of armed conflict by facilitating the voiceless from the margins to be heard to attain human security and inclusive peace.
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)
Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)