January 30, 2015

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) expresses its sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families of all the PNP-SAF, MILF and the civilians slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.  Makipagrikna ti CPA kadagiti kakailian a pimmusay sadiay Mamasapano. As kakailian, we dedicate moments of silence for them and call for State accountability on this tragic incident.

In his address to the nation yesterday, President Benigno Aquino stated that PNP-SAF officers were in Mamasapano to enforce a standing warrant of arrest for two alleged highly-trained and dangerous international terrorists when the incident happened. As expected, President Aquino continued to use his trademark of blame-game to cover up the incident. He publicly tried to wash his  hands off the incident and pass the blame to lower rank officers.

We express total dismay on Pres. Benigno Aquino’s statement over this tragedy, which was simply to cover up for his accountability as Commander-in-Chief. BS Aquino should be held accountable for the failed operation. There are no excuses for BS Aquino to cover up his major command responsibility lapses that resulted in the loss of lives of young police officers including civilians residing in the area.

As Igorots and umili of the Cordillera, we value life more than anything else. The lives of the 44 PNP-SAF, MILF and the civilians caught in the firefight including our 13 kakailian is  too much prize for political and economic gain of top rank generals and the Commander-in-Chief. This is outrageously unacceptable and calls for the strongest condemnation. Contrary to the statement of BS Aquino, the operation was not simple as part of a normal arrest procedure. The secretive mobilization of PNP-SAF and the sensitivity of intelligence reports involving the two suspected international terrorists in Maguindanao is a top level concern and any operation to their arrest needs top level clearance.

Our 13 kakailian police officers killed in Maguindanao may brew an atmosphere of contradiction between Igorots and Moro people. We sincerely call on our kakailians for sobriety and analyze why this happened. We should be informed that there are also Moro officers of the PNP-SAF and civilians killed during the encounter. Moro people are not the enemy of the people.  Like us in the Cordillera, the Moro people are also suffering not only because of the war but also from discrimination, inequality, poverty, government neglect and lack of services. We share the common problem with them which is the denial of our right to self-determination.

The incident should also encourage us to revisit the struggle of the Bangsamoro people on self-determination and look deeper on the issues and fundamental flaws surrounding the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPh) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and why the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) chose to continue their armed struggle. The incident is also  clear proof that not all territories in the Philippines is under the control of the GPh. Time and again, this reflects the reality of armed conflict and civil war in the Philippines and the Philippine government should learn from this expensive mistake and seriously attend to the peace talks towards addressing the roots of the armed conflict.

As Igorots and umili of the Cordillera, we consider ourselves warriors for the defense of life and land, but more importantly, we are for peace based on social justice. Let us not be used to serve the narrow interests of BS Aquino and top generals at the expense of our lives. We should also support genuine efforts for peace talks to move forward and outrightly reject  any move to revive the all-out war policy in Mindanao from the State and reject all attempts to stir anti-Moro sentiments. ***

For reference:

AB Anongos

Secretary General