DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 February) — President Benigno S. Aquino III must take full responsibility for the operation to capture terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 which resulted in the death of 44 members of the elite Police Special Action Force (SAF), Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte on Wednesday said.
“I do not want to offend the President but somebody has to tell him that he has to stop this blame game by taking full responsibility for what happened in Mamasapano,” Duterte said in a statement issued in Dumaguete City.
“As Mayor of Davao City, for example, I take full responsibility for whatever happens in an operation which I order to be implemented,” he said.
The mayor cited a case where policemen who were following his orders were charged for alleged excesses in the killing of suspected kidnappers in the city last year.
Duterte visited two universities in Dumaguete Wednesday to push his advocacy for federalism which he considers the best option should the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law fail to pass Congress.
He said somebody should own up the responsibility for the Mamasapano tragedy to stop the blame game between the military and the police.
Duterte was referring to statements issued by the police and the military to media and during the congressional investigation. Both institutions attributed the high number of casualties to the alleged lapses done by either of them before and during the actual operation.
Marwan was reported killed in the operation based on a DNA test done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a biological sample taken from the encounter site in Mamasapano.
Eighteen Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and at least four civilians were also killed during the gunfight.
The MILF said they did not know they were fighting government forces since they did not have prior knowledge about the operation.
The government and the MILF have an existing ceasefire agreement. They signed last year the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which is the product of on-and-off negotiations since 1987.
In his address on Feb. 6, Aquino blamed sacked SAF chief Director Getulio Napenas Jr. for the tactical lapses that led to the death of the 44 SAF personnel. (MindaNews)