Command Responsibility

Command Responsibility

Part 1  The Drama Starts


  The Mamasapano encounter opened up a can of worms within the makeup of the Philippine Government, particularly in the configuration by which the Armed Forces work. More so because all the nuances, politics,  personal ambitions, pride, jealousy and other factors affecting the stability of Southern Mindanao converge on this little place called Mamasapano. Indeed the fate of the region is embroiled in this place as if the stage play started and will be finished here.

And as the stage opened, we see a situation wherein the rebels of Southern Mindanao seek to end the revolution by asking the Philippine Government the status of autonomous government for themselves amid the region that they presently occupy. The rebels have always been up in arms ever since. To provide urgency for their purpose, they kill and kidnap, and burn, and pillage, promptly calling these  acts as necessary to foster the revolution.

Thus was the situation that led to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, or BBL, as the requirement to form the autonomous Bangsamoro Region. This is now submitted to the Philippine Congress as a bill for debate. If and when approved, the Philippine Government hopes to attain peace in the region.

It should be noticed that the region in question would be in close proximity to the Federated Malaysia borders which, in due time, would be a good prospect for the Bangsamoro autonomous region to join it as its parliament may approve. This condition of autonomous region qualifies them to secede very much like Crimea did, and which Quebec tried to do. Curiously enough, Malaysian involvement in this BBL has been  notably instrumental, so far.

As the BBL play progresses, the following factors get into the act:

1. There is an existing truce between the armed elements of the Bangsamoro called the MILF and the Philippine Armed Forces while the BBL is being pursued. It appears that while the Bangsamoro negotiators know who they are dealing with, they have little idea of who they are dealing for. The territory in question is plastered with armed elements, some of whom have built a kind of fort complete with a Mosque and concrete defenses. This fact invalidates the mandate of the MILF negotiators. They are not in command of the territory and therefore they are not responsible for it.

2.  To the PNP, or Philippine national Police, is entrusted the mission to take down primary target Marwan and secondary target Usman, since it will be a police action and the undertaking will not break the truce. Formerly called the Philippine Constabulary, the unit has outgrown the equipment it is supplied with. The rule is that police units are not provided with heavy weapons as befitting a regular army unit. The SAF, or Special Action Force, is therefore formed that would perform as a pseudo regular army unit. The SAF, alas, still has not been provided with armaments such as grenade launchers, mortars, rpg’s and such. The SAF force that was involved in the Mamasapano encounter is actually more like an urban swat team, helpless in field skirmishes. The mission, therefore, had not that many chances of coming out with no casualties. Theirs is but to do and die.

3.   The greatest priority is given secrecy. There has been a rash of ambushes at each and every mission undertaken by military forces. The targets have almost always been forewarned. Curiously enough, the missions have been compromised by civilians sympathetic to the MILF, jealous military units, spies within the camp, and mostly by the amount of preparations that the missions are required to have. This particular mission, therefore, has been kept secret from almost everybody. This meticulousness has made the mission to get Marwan a success.  


 (next : The Skirmish)

The SAF Goat

General Getulio Napenas,

strategist and director of operations

for the elimination of Marwan,

internationally wanted bomb-maker,

now suffers for the success of the mission.


Da Goat.mpg

With the resulting collateral damage of 44 SAF soldiers,

his accomplishment of completing the mission

was overshadowed, and he has now been marked as

the one responsible for the massacre.

His plan was not defective as alleged in the reports,

but, if I might opine, it was a good plan

despite the lack of resources and armament at his disposal.

If one has to go back and read my first comments

immediately after the Mamasapano massacre came out

(specifically in the February 10 and 12 posts)

the prime requirement for the mission is SECRECY.

Napenas now confirms this paramanout importance of secrecy publicly.

 Past missions were ambushed when the mission was known to some particular

groups of people, including the military.

Such imposition of secrecy thus deprived the mission of

the needed support and backup from the rest of the Army.

But who is to blame for the massacre?

I would say that whole blasted kaboodle of people

who are entrusted to give orders and who could

have changed things around.

Yep, all those involved from the very top

to the very bottom of the command line.

General Napenas is,  of course,   given the blame

because he is the one who could have said “GO!”

Notice that his job of getting Marwan was successful

because there was complete secrecy imposed on the operation.

The plan was brilliant up to the minute that Marwan was slain.

And when the alert was sounded, it was too late,

and Marwan’s  camp  reacted only after Marwan was dead.

Now how could the SAF been detected?

How would I have planned it if I were Napenas?

Mamasapano Encounter (continuar)



The Philippine Army has never learned a lesson.

Every operation in the Moroland of Maguindanao

almost always end up in ambush.

The targets or objectives oftentimes

have been forewarned of their coming.


As a consequence it has been a normal sight

to see this procession of catafalques

of dead soldiers

amidst the lamentation of their women,

and the grievances of a bereaved general


General Espina.mp4

How was the enemy forewarned?

Military Intelligence probably knew the answer to this question.

What they have yet to learn is how to deal with it.

But they tried, and this operation to get Marwan

is their attempt to correct the situation.

A very tight lid has been provided such an operation to get Marwan,

internationally-wanted terrorist bomb-maker

with a $5 million prize on his head;

and his prime student, Basit.

But somehow, information about the operation leaked out

and the 44 or so police Special Action Force

was caught in a crossfire just as they were withdrawing.

What happened afterwards was a cruel, animalistic abuse of

the 44 soldiers, some of them shot while they were down,

and were robbed of weapons and personal belongings.

It has been well-known that there are petty jealousies between the different branches of the military. Every branch try to outdo the others in obtaining coups and achievements for some reason or another which the officers know. marines, Rangers, Commandos, Seals and now the Police SAF have each had their share of ambushes and tragedy.

To make matters worse, there is an existing connivance between the soldiers and the armed contingents of the moros, further complicated by private armies belonging to some wealthy moros. What makes this situation impossible to untangle is that armed men have joint memberships in all the groups that are mentioned.

The SAF command had this operation under wraps for so long a time that even if the General In Charge got suspended, nobody issued an order to either cancel or proceed with the plan. The aim to incapacitate Marwan and Basit would tremendously benefit the world and such a cancellation of the operation nobody dared to order on pain of incarceration.

This is a police action, anyway, and no truce nor agreement between the Philippine Government and the Bangsamoro Negotiators would have the legitimacy to stop the operation nor prevent the SAF from entering the Bangsamoro lands in question.

Such a truce provided the reason for the rest of the Armed Forces to hesitate entering the Basngsamoro. A big mistake by the planners of this operation in that the backups were not close to the operation and that heavier firepower were not available to cover the withdrawal. They were overly concerned about secrecy in the operation, in such a way that the other branches of the army were not informed beforehand, and that support from these were not coming.  Besides, these heavier weapons might have been earlier sold to the terrorists already before this.

By about this time, military intelligence could filter out the source of the leak. If they have the right wits and the will to do it.

But the operation could have been done better, with no casualties, nor any uncalled for noise if it were done this way…..

(of course I won’t tell you how I could have done it. Dare me and I will. Otherwise, I won’t)