Cayetano is ignorant of peace talks, Moro history—interfaith group

Following Cayetano’s turn in questioning resource persons on the Senate hearing on the ill-fated Special Action Forces operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Thursday, interfaith group Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) said that Majority Leader Senator Alan Cayetano is ignorant of peace talks and Moro history.

“We could hear Cayetano’s ignorance of the peace process with the MILF and his ignorance of the Moro peoples’ long struggle for self-determination in his handling and line of questioning in the Senate hearings in the Mamasapano debacle,” MCPA spokesman Antonio Liongson said. “Moro history–that encompasses pre-colonial times and subsequent governments–is wrought with oppression. It is this historic injustice that has resulted in the enduring armed struggle of the Bangsamoro for self-determination. Senator Cayetano seems pitifully ignorant of this, which is seriously unbecoming of his stature as a senator,” Liongson added.

Liongson said that Cayetano is aiming to convince, and not to investigate. “Instead of querying in order to sift the truth out of this whole mess of an operation, Senator Alan Cayetano only stated his own conclusions in the matter, biases and chauvinism in tow,” Liongson added. “He is questioning not to know the truth, but to convince the public that he has the monopoly of rightness in this issue–which is far from true,” he added.

Senator Cayetano’s accusation of the MILF terrorism link is unfounded and irresponsible, according to Liongson. “Terrorist-tagging is no light matter. The US War on Terror has caused violent killings, genocides, and humanitarian crisis around the world. Even the US, who is notorious for the malicious branding of people and organizations as terrorists, refrained from straight-out categorizing the MILF as a terrorist group. Yet Cayetano has presupposed this as a fact, as evidenced by his presumption and conduct during the hearing,” Liongson said.

Senate is sparing Aquino

Like Cayetano’s line of questioning, Liongson said that the Senate seems to be skewed towards sparing President Aquino from accountability; and instead busying itself with the nitty-gritty of the actions of ground commanders in the botched SAF operations.

“It is becoming obvious that the line of questioning of Senators in the hearing seems to stop short in questioning President Aquino is involvement and accountability in the calamitous operations in Mamasapano. We urge the Senate to resist the whitewash operations of the Aquino spin doctors and PR managers,” Liongson said.

Liongson said that the coordination in the operation does not rest with the officers on the ground. “Coordination with the MILF and the AFP in this operation could only be done within the level of the Commander-in-Chief and the Chiefs of Staff. Napenas seems to be taking the brunt of responsibility to spare his superiors,” Liongson said.

Immunity from suit must not stop the Senate from digging out President Aquino’s accountability in the matter, Liongson said. “The buck stops at Aquino as Commander-in-Chief. He is among the chief architects of this seeming suicide mission. The Senate should no spare him of scrutiny. The Filipino people has the right to know what kind of President that sits in Malacanang, and if they could stomach his remaining there or join in the clamor for his resignation,” Liongson added.