Defense News PH http://www.defensenewsph.com – When soldiers lose their comrades, they bury their dead without complaining and go back to the battlefield, according to a Marine general.
“Several Marines or soldiers offered their precious lives yet they did not complain, no cry for justice, fringe benefits nor blame anyone. We solemnly buried our dead heroes and consoled the many wounded, wiped our tears and fought again,” said Major General Alexander Balutan of the Navy Inspector General on a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“For we know well the meaning of our sacred oath for sake of our Motherland,” he added.
He cited some of the Marines’ battles and challenges: The fall of Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao in July 2000; The capture of Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte in May 2000; Assault in Camp Rajahmuda Complex in North Cotabato in June 2003; and the national elections in Lanao del Sur in May 2004.
Balutan’s statement comes a day before the re-investigation of the botched Mamasapano operation, which killed 44 police commandos in targeting Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
In the operation, the Special Action Force kept the military out of the loop and only informed them “time on target,” which caused a delay in reinforcements. This made them blame each other.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has requested the reopening of the investigation and said he has evidence that will prove President Benigno Aquino III’s direct involvement in the operation.
A certain Michael dela Cruz commented on Balutan’s post, saying that the military and police should not be compared because the situation was different.
“Your soldiers were never left behind to die. Every available asset of the armed forces was given just to save them… and for SAF, [there] was none… they died begging for reinforcement but nothing came,” he said.
But the Marine general commented that the SAF should have “fought their way out even without reinforcement.”
“[The SAF] planned it in the first place and the AFP reinforcement was the least priority, lest of compromise, so the confusion. The warrior instinct is to win and survive his battles and we don’t worry about any political scenario, issues or betrayals when we go to war on our own,” he said.
Balutan clarified by phone that he had nothing against the members of SAF, but sympathized with them.
He said that in his personal opinion, the issue on SAF was being “sensationalized” and “exploited.”
Balutan also scored the re-investigation, saying it would only reopen old wounds.
“Lalo lang mabubuksan ang sugat na natahi na. Very painful ‘yan,” he said.
Balutan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy 1983.
In 2013, he also lamented on Facebook the alleged misuse of P10 billion worth of pork barrel.
He said that the misused funds could have been instead used to address the problems of armed conflict.
Balutan was awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Philippine Soldiers by Metrobank Foundation in 2011. He was recognized for leading successful campaigns against Muslim separatist rebels and for forging a peace pact among 18 mayors in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City before the 2004 elections.
He also once defied former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s orders not to attend an inquiry by testifying before the Senate in 2005 on his knowledge on the alleged cheating in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections. He was court-martialed but his charges were proscribed or had lapsed in two years before he was brought to trial.
On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in the hunt for Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, aka “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. Their mission may have succeeded, but one year later families of the slain SAF44 and affected civilians today continue to seek justice from a government which allegedly broke chain of command and poorly handled the mission. Visit the INQUIRER tribute site at inquirer.net/mamasapano.