Duterte condemns “wholesale killing of SAF troops; calls for continued talks

By , on January 29, 2015

NOTORIOUS TOUGH GUY. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Photo courtesy of Duterte's official Facebook page.
NOTORIOUS TOUGH GUY. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Photo courtesy of Duterte’s official Facebook page.

DAVAO CITY — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condemned what he described as “wholesale” killing of the members of the Special Action Forces (SAF) in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao as he called for continued peace talks because Mindanao cannot afford to go back to total out war.

“Let us grieve… share the grief every of parent. I am mad but I am also saddened and I condemn how the soldiers were being treated. Di naman kailangan… sa mukha (don’t need to…),” he said almost describing how the SAF members were killed.

“It (peace talks) may not sound to everybody good (now) but wala tayong (we have no) choice because we cannot go again into the Mindanao campaign of total out war,” he told businessmen during the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) 47th Annual Installation of Officers and Board of Trustees on Wednesday night.

Duterte explained that rebellion today is different from the Hukbalahap days and the Cotabato campaign but a new style of rebellion wherein fighting government is by just planting bombs not directed to armed troops or the other side but done at the expense of the civilians.

“If we take out the peace process – are we ready for a war and how many bombings here in Mindanao?” Duterte quipped in a separate interview.

Duterte warned that with a failed peace process Mindanao will be facing another revolt and it could end up with a failed dream that will agitate people.

Citing troubled Muslim countries, the mayor said the country is not prepared for a situation in which people are almost eating each other. “We are not prepared for that,” he said.

Saddened and mad at how the SAF were killed, Duterte called on the people to continue vigilance while sharing the grief of every parents and families of the slain troops.

“I am passionate about lives lalo na gobyerno (especially government) after all it is not easy investment. You spend a lot to train soldiers itapon mo lang (you just send them)…they are highly trained. The SAF is the striking force of the PNP,” he said.

Fed to hell
Duterte hoped for the day of reckoning when someone has to answer why the SAF members where fed into hell. When sought who is to blame, Duterte said there is an investigation where everybody has the right to be heard including allegations of suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Allan Purisima’s participation.

“If there was plan at all it was a very reckless adventure,” he said. When asked that President Benigno Aquino III knew about the operation, Duterte said, “not in so many words” based from what he saw and heard of the President’s speech.

“I’d like to believe him but itong other ends of Malacanang or sa police bakit hindi nila kinonsider yan (the other ends of Malacañang or the police why they have not considered that (coordination),” he said.

Even if the person is close to the President, the person who ordered for the special operation wherein the SAF men were going to serve a warrant of arrest for Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli Bin Hir and Abu Sayyaf Group member Basit Usman must be answerable, Duterte said in the interview.

Duterte said they could have requested the MILF and tell them the bombers, who are facing many charges, are in your area before entering Tukapalinao.

Duterte believed SAF was not fully informed and warned for there are areas considered that “we cannot go in without their permission. He said there is military troop that have advised them well.

While serving warrants of arrest is legitimate, Duterte said it has limitations in terms of areas.

He pointed out that lack of coordination could be the reason why the military could not respond because they do not know what was going on. “It was not really done within the methodology of protocol,” he said as he hinted to sharing information with the military was important to prepare them on what kind force they would need.

“I pity them,” he added. Duterte told businessmen he has spoken to friends in Maguindanao area, asking for information on the incident but he begged off against sharing what he knew.

Duterte cautioned the public against blaming the MILF now when in the first place “it was the government troops that entered the territory of the rebels”.

Duterte said the incident could have been avoided should the peace agreement was respected.

The mayor said the incident must be investigated and pinpoint those responsible.