By Anne de Bretagne
for the Philippine Sabah Claim Forum
and for the Defenders of Philippine Sabah & Spratly Claims
13 February 2015
General Catapang, chief-of-staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines said that 'he did not inform President Aquino about the clash Mamasapano clash although they were aware of it and they were with him all day on January 25' nor of a request for reinforcement at the height of the deadly encounter with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front forces that cost the lives of 44 officers and men of the PNP-Special Action Force. Actually the minute Catapang did not inform the president, he should have realised that he was already MAKING a command decision and that decision entailed COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY. He should be relieved.
Obviously, General Catapang (translated in Pilipino, 'catapang' means 'so brave') acted that way because he had "read" Noynoy's wishy-washy body language and admitted that he knew of the president's position, i.e., MILF first, that the so-called peace agreement 'should not be jeopardised' so he did not make a move nor provide reinforcement. What a disaster!
Catapang should have set aside all that and moved! After all, without a direct order from the president for the AFP NOT TO MOVE, i.e., that AFP was not to provide reinforcement no matter what, Catapang should have made his own command decision to provide reinforcement... He had those four stars to use as commander of the entire military at that specific instance. IT WAS REALLY NOT DIFFICULT TO MAKE A COMMAND DECISION at that specific moment: shots were fired and being fired, help was being asked for, people were obviously dying and would die still!
I still can't believe that General Catapang could even dare declare that the AFP gave no artillery support to SAF to avoid 'war' with the MILF There they were, the PNP-SAFs being shot at and being killed by combined MILF-BIFF rebel forces, were clearly under war-like attack, needing urgent troop reinforcement and at the very least, small artillery support, eg., mortars, but Catapang withheld that support for what? To avoid war with the MILF? Avoid war with the MILF? But the MILF-BIFF were already killing your brothers-in-arms, General!
General Catapang, how do you expect men to obey your command in the future, fight for you and even prepare to die for you if they believe they might not get the support they need when they ask for it during the heat of a battle because of some dubious political consideration?
They were killing your brothers-in-arms, General! How could you not have sent reinforcement and not given them small artillery support?
Catapang, a military officer that he is, should have realised that THE PEACE AGREEMENT WAS BEING BROKEN AT THAT VERY MOMENT and that by staying mum, doing nothing could not spell anything but bad poor, execrable military commander's judgement. He knows and must have known as a four-star general that the minute shots were fired, the CEASEFIRE WAS BROKEN! Hence, there was nothing holding back the Armed Forces of the Philippines from providing reinforcement to their beleaguered colleagues in the face of the enemy.
Therefore, to have refused to provide reinforcement to his beleaguered brothers-in-arms, clearly under attack, was a violation of the moral code of conduct of any serving military officer. This four-star officer should be stripped of his stars and be sacked!
But who will sack him? President Noynoy Aquino? The commander in chief, who believes that he has no command responsibility for what happened? The commander in chief who has no clue that the minute he ordered the other troops to stand down, he was in fact taking DIRECT OPERATIONAL CONTROL and therefore assumed direct and full responsibility for the murder of those SAF44... So, never mind Noynoy. He is useless!
As ever, military officers, even if they happen to have four shiny golden stars on those broad or narrow shoulders (in the case of Catapang), are only as good as their ability -- or inability, to be good and brave officers and commanders when the going gets tough. But there's one thing that a senior military commander cannot be and that is to be a moral coward. That is why senior military people are held in so much esteem throughout the world because senior military commanders are expected to make difficult decisions and give orders in the face of extreme stress and with huge moral implication because they pertain to life and death.
I accuse General Catapang of being a moral coward, an execrable senior military officer and poor commander!
Mamasapano clash: Who told Aquino when?