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EDITORIAL: Someone has blundered !

When news broke out that 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) met their brutal ends in a battle somewhere in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, one was reminded of the poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”

Remember those lines?
“Cannons from the right of them
Cannons from the left of them
Volleyed and thundered.
Forward the Light Brigade
Was there a man dismayed?
No, none! Though they know
That someone has blundered.”

It was very clear that whoever ordered that ill-fated mission terribly committed a serious blunder.

First, there is a standing peace agreement between GPH-MILF providing among others that government must coordinate with the MILF any movement of government troops into rebel-controlled territories.  It was not complied with.

Second, the mission was not coordinated with other PNP Units and the AFP in or around the area of operation.

Third, the strength of the SAF Unit was very low compared to the probable number of enemy forces that will attack them once their presence in the territory is discovered.

Due to these inadequacies, when the SAF men were pinned down in between what looks a like a chance pincer of MILF and BIFF troops, reinforcements were not able to come to the rescue.  No army general in his right mind from over 30 kilometers away could organize a reinforcement contingent in such a short notice that can reach the beleaguered SAF men before all of them are annihilated.  On that fateful day, the AFP reinforcements arrived just on time to recover the bodies of the dead and probably long after the enemies had left the battle field.

To our mind, this is the worst strategic and tactical blunder committed by the high command in the history of the Republic.  Well, they say that they are investigating what happened.  But whatever happened will not bring back the precious lives of those who perished.  If the failed mission was ordered by the military, the Commander must face a Court Martial.  However, it was committed by a civilian organization. The PNP is national in scope and civilian in character, according to the law. What shall be done with those responsible?

How far above in the PNP hierarchy is responsible?  Someone had blundered.  Things cannot be rectified anymore!  And maybe, the people too had blundered in May 2010.

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