Here is the unity statement signed by individuals and organizations inviting everyone to an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain on Feb. 25, 3-6 pm, starting from Camp Crame EDSA Gate up to the EDSA Shrine. Feb. 25 is exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident and the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising.
We demand truth and accountability in the Mamasapano incident
Forty-four members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), 18 Moro rebels and six civilians are dead. The Mindanao peace process is teetering on the brink with a possible escalation of the armed conflict. Our nation mourns while outrage spreads, as the highest government officials try to cover up events leading to the carnage.
Nearly a month after the January 25 Mamasapano clash, the following details of the top-secret SAF operation are emerging:
- President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Commander-in-Chief, assigned General Alan Purisima to oversee the entire operation despite the Philippine National Police chief’s suspension on corruption charges;
- President Aquino’s decision closed off Operation Exodus to all but himself and a few chosen men, violating the chain of command and all notions of responsible oversight.
- The early morning raid was done without proper coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the GRP-MILF ceasefire committee, which would have helped prevent the loss of so many lives on all sides.
- The operation involved the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Zamboanga-based US Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) in various capacities and stages.
In light of these fatal errors, the President and his men appear to be frantically covering up their roles as well as that of the US government. This is unacceptable.
The government owes the dead, their bereaved families and the entire nation a thorough and independent investigation. Aside from the operational failures of Oplan Exodus, the investigation should look into the following:
- The role and accountabilities of the President and everyone else down the line and why entire chains of command were bypassed in the high-value, high-risk operation;
- How the government factored in or failed to consider the consequences to the GPH-MILF peace process;
- The role of the US government in the conduct of the hunt for Marwan and Usman and, in particular, in Oplan Exodus;
- The accountabilities of the Philippine government, MILF, BIFF and other groups with respect to possible violations of the peace agreements and International Humanitarian Law.
Justice cannot be achieved in a process shrouded by half-truths and outright lies. Peace itself is threatened by the absence of truth and accountability. Thus do we demand truth and seek accountability — most especially from the highest official of the land — in order for justice to be served and genuine peace to be achieved.
This February 25, exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, and on the anniversary of EDSA 1, we call on everyone to join us in an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain, to be held from 3-6 p.m., starting at the Camp Crame EDSA Gate stretching all the way to the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas Ave.
Let us join hands for truth, accountability, justice and genuine peace.
Bishop Arturo Asi
United Church of Christ of the Philippines
Bishop Elmer Bolocon
Ecumenical Bishops Forum
Fr. Rex Reyes
National Council of Churches of the Philippines
Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB
Atty. Vicente Joyas
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Fr. Ben Alforque, MSC
Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, PhD
Pagbabago! Movement for Change
Engr. Jun Lozada
Col. George Rabusa (Ret.)
Atty. Harry Roque
Concerned Citizens Movement
Carol P. Araullo
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
Concerned Artists of the Philippines
Atty. Edre Olalia
National Union of People’s Lawyers
Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS
Sr. Lynn Leuterio, ICM
Fr. Jesus Dumaual, MSC
Rev. Mariesol Villalon
United Methodist Church
Mae P. Paner
Maria Isabel Lopez
Dante LA. Jimenez
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption
Youth ACT Now!
Writers vs. Impunity
Dr. Ramon Paterno