September 21, 2017, 8:14 pm
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Necessary move

THE order of Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Office of the Ombudsman to indict former President Benigno S. Aquino III for the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao against Islamist terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, is something that deserves welcome.

The truth is whatever way she pursues, whether to sit on the case, to file cases of homicide thru negligence, or graft and usurpation of authority, etc. against Aquino, former PNP chief Alan Purisima and/or former Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas, Morales will receive some flak from critics of various persuasions.

Morales did the right thing in clearing the way for the filing of cases against Aquino, despite the protestations of a lawyer of several SAF families who lost their loved ones in the carnage. They had wanted Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas to face charges more serious than just graft and usurpation of authority.

This development should also be a welcome one for former President Aquino, as a formal court case in the Sandiganbayan will afford him the rare opportunity to prove his “alternative truth” theory, thereby bolstering his accusation that the Ombudsman erred by gross “misappreciation of facts.”

Aquino has posited that Purisima, then suspended by the Ombudsman for questionable contracts involving logistics, was just a “resource person” in the counter-terrorist operation called “Oplan Exodus” and only Napeñas was to blame for the debacle, which cost the lives of 44 SAF personnel.

Without doubt, there were many things -- procedures, protocols, personnel -- irregular and anomalous in the way Aquino handled the operation. Analysts say if the regular chain of command was not left out of the loop, the SAF 44 would not have been led to their slaughter.

In the wake of the Marawi siege of May 2017, those who are solidly against Noynoy Aquino are having second thoughts on the merits of Mamasapano. 

For one, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan was a Muslim terrorist big enough to have merited a bounty of $5 million from the US government. Any president of any nation worth his or her salt is duty-bound to eliminate a terrorist leader as big as Marwan. In the case of Noynoy, this was accomplished, with the terrorist dead after the operation. That it amounted to a pyrrhic victory with the SAF decimated is a side issue.

These things happen in war, as Marawi realities point out. Two botched bombings were labeled as “friendly fires” killing two dozen soldiers in one month’s hostilities. Nobody compared these misencounters with the Mamasapano debacle. Nobody blamed President Duterte for these dumb bombs killing and wounding our very own soldiers.

Lest we be misunderstood, we welcome the filing of cases against former President Aquino and hope the judiciary will be able to hear the merits and punish whoever deserves punishment.

It is wise to remember though that the anti-terrorist war -- just like the war on drugs -- is an extraordinary effort that calls for unfettered solutions, sometimes even bordering on the illegal.
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