Action is what’s needed | Inquirer Opinion

Action is what’s needed

12:03 AM February 26, 2015

President Benigno Aquino III may not yet realize it, but the men and women of the Philippine National Police are hurting, and hurting bad. The Mamasapano tragedy that took the lives of 44 gallant commandos of the Special Action Force has traumatized many in the organization.

They cannot understand why the PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas were kept in the dark at the crucial stages of Oplan Exodus. They cannot understand why a suspended PNP chief (now resigned) exercised control over Oplan Exodus.

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They cannot understand why inaugurating a car manufacturing plant was given more importance than honoring the “Gallant 44” with his presence at the arrival of their remains at Villamor Air Base.

And they cannot understand why up to now there is no permanent PNP chief despite the urgent need for a strong leader in this critical hour of sadness and low morale in the organization.

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The unusually fast release of financial assistance and benefits to the families of the Gallant 44 and the “Wounded 15” are appreciated; and the families are eagerly looking forward to the proposed assistance for housing, livelihood, health care and education.

But there are bigger issues that need to be addressed.

The men and women of the PNP are for peace. Their PNP Transformation Plan (Patrol Plan 2030) envisions a community-oriented PNP that is credible, capable and effective, enabling communities to turn into safer places to live, work and do business in. This cannot happen in a war zone. That is why peace is the better option. But it must be peace with honor, peace with justice.

We, therefore, recommend to the President, the following:

  1. Arrest the growing sadness and declining morale in the PNP by immediately appointing a permanent PNP chief who can exercise the power and authority of the position, which an OIC does not enjoy.
  2. Continue to work toward peace, but let it be peace with honor and justice by insisting to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front:
  • the immediate return of all the firearms, bullet-proof vests and other accessories that were removed from the bodies of the slain SAF 44;
  • the immediate surrender of Usman to the authorities; and
  • the surrender of the MILF commanders and their followers who may be charged by the Department of Justice with the brutal murder (and mutilation) of the SAF 44.
  1. Fully support the PNP Board of Inquiry (made up of people highly respected in the organization for their integrity, probity, competence and sense of country) investigating the Mamasapano incident even if its findings may not be to his liking.
  2. Speak the truth when answering questions, especially those from the grieving families; admit what needs to be admitted; and apologize to those who may have been hurt by your actions and omissions.

Blaming people who contributed to the Mamasapano debacle is not productive. What is needed now is action, decisive action.

—REX C. DRILON II, chair, National Issues Committee of the Management Association of the Philippines, and chair, National Advisory Group for Police Transformation and Development and trustee, Institute for Solidarity in Asia

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TAGS: Mamasapano, Patrol Plan 2030, PNP Transformation Plan
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