Mamasapano: on proximate cause and the butterfly effect

Napenas-senate philstar

[Photo credit:]

 Why Napena’s Oplan is the “proximate cause”, and not the break in chain of command

by Andrew Lim

With the Board of Inquiry’s report and the Senate Committee’s report now both out, everyone has an opinion on:

  1. who is to blame (to hold responsible or to place responsibility for; very imprecise and can be based solely on opinion.)
  1. who is liable (a legal term for responsibility for one’s act or omissions which results in injury; it requires evidence of the duty to act, failure to fullfill that duty, and the proximate cause of that failure to inflict harm or injury.)

Like most events, the Mamasapano incident is a complex, non-linear system. One can imagine a dot that lead to several dots, with each point sprouting outwards continuously, all intricately linked, with some exerting greater effect on the other dots than the others.

Even the starting dot is debatable. Some will say it all started with the ongoing pursuit of these high value targets. Others will speculate it began with  Purisima, who was desperate to get back in the good graces of everyone, and sold the President on the idea. Or one can put the starting point in Senator Poe’s investigation of Purisima which got him suspended, fouled up the planning process, which the President did not clear up, etc. (Si Grace pala nagsimula! LOL)

In analyzing this backwards in time, we need to be cognizant of something called the “butterfly effect” in chaos theory.  It states that in complex, non-linear systems,  minute changes in past assumptions will cause widely varying outcomes. (the popular metaphorical example which was misinterpreted in popular culture is the butterfly flapping its wings that causes a hurricane elsewhere on the planet)

So one has to be careful in coming out with claims on who is responsible or who is to blame. Some will resort to giving out percentages, assigning numerical values to the principal actors. But this is so imprecise and subject to endless debate. One cannot be irresponsible to say, “A basta. Lahat sila dapat managot!”

From my view, this discussion needs to focus on “proximate cause.”  It is defined as “an act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred. This puts the discussion on firmer ground, and provides evidence on what point in the whole chain of events have the most impact in causing the injury (the deaths of the 44 SAF troopers in this case).

What determines “proximate cause”?  A test is the “but for” or “sine qua non” rule which considers whether the injury would not have occurred but for a defendant’s negligent act.

Another test is the “substantial factor” formula. This considers whether the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in producing the harm. If the act was a substantial factor in bringing about the damage, then the defendant will be held liable unless he can raise a sufficient defense to rebut the claims.  (Source: Legal Dictionary: proximate cause)

Let’s assume that the chain of command was never broken. Purisima never got suspended and was the legitimate chief of the PNP during the whole saga. The President objected to keeping the DILG and the PNP OIC out of the loop, and informed them.

Would the high death toll still happen? My answer is yes. The Oplan was the “but for” or “sine qua non” that would make it happen. It is direct and uninterrupted. This is the “substantial factor.” Why?  The findings of the PNP’s Board of Inquiry tears to shreds the viability of  Oplan Exodus which General Napenas wrote and conceptualized:


“TOT (time on target) concept is applicable only to ordinary police operations…”

Operation Plan

“Disregarding inputs from his subordinate commanders.”,  “…unrealistic assumptions…”


“Defective from the beginning”, “Troop movement was mismanaged”, “troops failed to occupy their positions”,  “…lack of effective communication…”, “… no coordination with the AFP forces…”.

Command and Control

“In Oplan Exodus, the SAF’s TCP and ACP were plagued by failures of command and control from the very start… mobile communication devices … fell short of what were needed…”

(Source: Executive Summary of PNP Board of Inquiry Report on Mamasapano Clash, GMA News. March 13, 2015.)

Sure, one can argue that better responses could have been made if this was the scenario. An unbroken chain of command could have meant clearer information, a better sense of urgency and a stronger insistence on artillery support. But this is now one step away from what got them into the one-sided firefight in the first place. In layman’s terms, this is now “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” My view is that the further you go away in time – whether backwards or forwards, the impact on causation on the harm done  goes considerably down.

Now let’s try the reverse scenario: the chain of command was broken, but a better plan was written and executed. Time on target was not chosen. Would the high death toll still happen? My answer is there could still have been deaths, but much fewer. Why? The scenarios improve with this: more accurate estimates of enemy strength and position resulting in better preparation of equipment and men. Prior coordination for support. Abort criteria would have been spelled out.

The claim that prior coordination with the AFP might have compromised the mission due to past experience only means that SAF should have prepared itself to fight it alone and not rely on immediate reaction. Using time on target and expecting other units to respond when you want it is extremely high-risk taking bordering on recklessness.

Again, one can poke holes into this scenario with “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, but it makes for a stronger argument that the SAF troops would have had a better fighting chance of making it out of there, with fewer casualties.

Regardless of which scenario you choose, it is the defective plan that will lead to deaths in the first place. The broken chain of command would have only compounded response efforts (resulting in more deaths), but that is now even more speculative and farther away along the time line.


It was the quality of the plan – the details in the plan – which would have been carried out, either with an unbroken chain of command or not, which caused it all.

It was the proximate cause of the 44 deaths.

It was the plan that killed the SAF 44.  It would have gotten them killed even if the chain of command was unbroken.

P.S. Are we to hold our Presidents and police/military commanders liable each time if there are casualties in every operation? Was Franklin Roosevelt and his commanders liable for Operation Neptune (D-Day landing in Normandy) which resulted in 2000+ dead US soldiers?  How about smaller operations like campaigns against kidnappers and robbery gangs? Do we hold police commanders liable for deaths among their ranks?


144 Responses to “Mamasapano: on proximate cause and the butterfly effect”
  1. Joe America says:

    Thanks for this thought-provoking piece, Andrew. As I have written, I think the President’s involvement was where it is supposed to be, strategic, and not operational. He gave broad guidance, not specific. Use of Purisima was a practical expedient because he had all the knowledge and experience of prior missions (a perspective totally missed in Poe’s attack piece, which the summary of the hearing findings seems to be).

    Poe’s report gives only a paragraph or two about the missing artillery that day, and leaves it hanging by saying all the answers are not in. Now that was MUCH more proximate and bearing on the deaths than Aquino’s decision to use Purisima. Yet it is set aside as irrelevant in favor of the political conclusions.

    The role of the cease fire team is also given just a few paragraphs and dismissed. MUCH more proximate.

    This is all disturbing, because the purpose of the hearings was to gather information in aid of legislation. Laying blame, as the primary output of the report, is grossly off base.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      All these “bullilaso” (foul-ups) that followed due to the broken chain of command are secondary to the highly defective plan and the decision to go time on target as far as what caused the deaths in the first place.

      (Incidentally, I am now doing research on this time on target principle and so far cannot find material on it. What I have found so far is the artillery concept of it, timing your rounds so they all land nearly simultaneously, for maximum effect. Time on target as interpreted by Napenas seems to be his invention. Can anyone here supply info on this? )

      • Joe America says:

        So the bullseye of proximity was the plan that Napenas had in his hands as he ordered the first units off around midnight. So the physical location was the op center a little way away from the battle, and the SAF teams as they moved into position.

        The next proximate entry into the picture were the MILF/BIFF troops, the second ring around the bulls eye.

        The third ring was the AFP, which sent mechanized units forward until they got shot at, and which never did fire artillery until the battle was essentially over.

        The fourth ring of proximity was the cease fire team that couldn’t get anyone to listen.

        But people are blaming President Aquino? And Binay wants to blame Roxas?

        Give me a break.

        • andrewlim8 says:

          Essentially yes, that analogy of a dartboard with concentric circles, with Napenas’ plan being the closest to the bullseye. But I prefer to use a timeline, because it shows clearly the proximate cause while the other factors cited were missed opportunities to stop the fighting and/or lessen the casualties. The other factors are further down the timeline.

          • Joe America says:

            Okay, with new information today that Americans were in the op center with Napenas, had intelligence that the units were under duress, and asked (ordered? begged?) Pangilinan to fire the artillery and he wouldn’t do it. The meaning of that is astounding. The Senate, rather than praising the initiative of the Americans to try to do what no one else could do – because they were the only ones who could SEE what and where – are blaming them for being directly engaged in an operation.

            So the legalisms take precedent to the Senate, over the matter of saving lives. I do fear the senators should turn their pointy little fingers at themselves for being so absurd.

            But the point is, I need to move the cease fire team back to fifth circle and insert the US as number four.

            • federiko says:

              Now, that part should be investigated. It was unlikely that the American would ask that artillery be fired unless he saw the need. Pangilinan, was it him?, who said that the artillery was not fired because civilians could be hurt. But the area of the fighting was a wide flat land without any house in sight. where are the civilians he was referring to? His ego was hurt so he withheld the firing lest it be considered he was following a foreigner’s order?

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Military was not involved in planning and was called upon only when things fouled up. Strictly speaking the only guy who could order them to fire was the Commander-in-Chief.

                Wonder why Noynoy did not at least put Gazmin into the loop – the guy was his mother’s security chief for God’s sake, at least have him informed and ready. Guy’s a pro.

                A lot of factors show Noynoy’s immaturity and stubbornness – OK he is not the only one who is like that in the Philippines to be fair to him, mature and professional is rare there.

              • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

                I also don’t understand…Poe’s emphasis is her perceived intervention by the US in that operation and not in the effort to save the lives of the poor cornered SAF. We should welcome all the help we can get because this is a fight against terrorists and the groups that are harboring them. No wonder she absolved Pangilinan, if that is her state of mind. And she wants the President impeached, oh my…why did I ever vote for this woman…grrrr!

                I salute that American who tried to convince Panginan to fire the artillery and I blame the latter for his egoistic dilly dallying just to show the former that he is the commander in charge. Are you still able to sleep at nights, General P?

              • I remember hearing the reason for the non coordination was because some members of the AFP battalion in that region are related to some MILF, previous attempts to arrest Marwan failed because they coordinated (hence Marwan was able to escape), so the plan was to inform the AFP only at the time of extraction. In its early stage, the oplan was a covert operation to preserve the element of surprise, I think. The operation succeeded but the extraction failed – and worse, the gallant SAF 44 died in a brutal, horrific manner.

                The President as the Commander in Chief (IMHO) has the discretion to tap the services of any one (even a suspended PNP chief, since even while on suspension as PNP chief, he is still in the roster of the PNP) to continue the strategic planning of the covert part of the operation. The preventive suspension of Purisima is just that – preventive in nature, so as he, his office and subordinates will not interfere with the investigation of his alleged corrupt activities, not related to the manhunt for Marwan and the various intel in his possession which he received prior to his suspension. That’s my humble opinion, I know some will vehemently disagree, but, hey I’m only one voice.

                If only, the AFP has used that phosphorous thing earlier, the MILF and whatever band of warriors with them, they might scamper away for they know that artillery is the next step, then our men might have a chance to escape to safety. They decided to do that, yes, but then it was too late, our men were already dead. Not actually using the artillery to “smash everything including the landscape”, just a warning to effect the extraction. So many Ifs… should, could – somebody said hindsight is 20/20, perfect, but we are not, perfect, that is.

                And I pray with all my heart that there will be a cessation of these hostilities, for congress to scrutinize the BBL draft law, enact it to the satisfaction of all parties and stakeholders so that long lasting peace and progress can be achieved. Young people on both sides are being sacrificed already including innocent children – casualties of war which has to end.

      • karl garcia says:

        Yes Time on Target is never about disclosing information at a certain point of time, I also only read about the artillery concept…Anyone who can concur with Napenas definition, feel free to do so.I already heard his lawyer face to face and I was not convinced.

      • sonny says:

        The TOT you speak of, Andrew, belongs to the “here and now” of a tactical execution of the plan. As such TOT belongs to the art of military battles that borrows from a commando tradition. Is there such a tradition to draw from? Presidents do not, only generals (IMO).

        • andrewlim8 says:


          So it’s not an established doctrine at all? Just Napenas’ description of his favored strategy of informing other units when you are already implementing it? I’m looking for historical examples of this strategy being used in operations.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      In my opinion Noynoy made three strategic mistakes as the “CEO”:

      1) he did not involve two highly competent “top managers”: Mar and Espina

      2) he entrusted too many things to a not so competent ass-kisser: Purisima

      3) he let an overambitious person who was out of his depth do things: Napeñas

      The guy on top of anything should be a good enough judge of character and competence to choose the right people to handle things. In the end Noynoy ordered the operation and trusted the wrong people, plus he kept his mobile off while it was actually happening.

      IMHO Noynoy might even have shut out Mar and Espina because being stubborn, he did not want naysayers – they would have correctly criticized many things, being thorough.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        We all want perfection with hindsight.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Not perfection. But lessons learned – good consulting firms do that for every project.

          These lessons could already have been learned during the tourist bus incident.

          • andrewlim8 says:

            “coulda woulda shoulda” from a historical persective. 🙂

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              No, lessons that were not learned. Fools make the same mistake twice, Noynoy IS a fool in this respect. If he were less stubborn, he might have learned from the first time.

              • Joe America says:

                What lessons with the bus incident could have helped here? Not to trust any subordinate? To run every military and police operation yourself? When police or army missions gone bad makes a President a fool, I’d say the standards are impossible, and there have been a lot of American fools running the nation.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Let me list down the lessons from my point of view:

                1. Choose the right subordinates and not bunglers or sipsips (Purisima).

                2. Always be reachable in case of emergency in major operations and crises.

                3. Take responsibility as the leader and tell press that the rest is INTERNAL business.

                Noynoy CHOSE to go for Oplan Exodus, Noynoy HAD to deal with the bus crisis.

                His weakness is that he reacts in a stubborn and inflexible way to crisis situations.

              • Joe America says:

                His strength is that he is steady during crises, does not panic, gathers information, and takes responsibility for doing what he thinks is best for the Philippines. Not for his political career or bank account.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Noynoy could not be reached by the Hong Kong leader and even made the excuse publicly that he only has to be reachable for heads of state. In diplomatic practice this is a slap in the face, Noynoy is not a good communicator.

                Come on, even the way the Palace communicates is high school level. Lack of professional standards, discipline and maturity cuts across the whole society. That is why Mar and Espina are such a fresh breath of air.

              • Joe America says:

                The President’s spokespeople hold frequent press conferences. The questions asked are elementary school level, and it doesn’t matter what the spokespeople say, because the tabloid writers will twist it anyway. The President makes good speeches and bad, as any president does. Again, the tabloids focus on the irrelevant and miss the important. What’s a guy to do, really?

                Again, if the standard is perfection, no one passes. If the standard is stability and progress, the President gets good grades. If the standard is comparison to other aspiring leaders here, the President looks really good: rational, calm, thoughtful, organized, managerial. Stubborn? It is the determination that allows him to keep going steady in this looney toons media and social environment that is relentless in its nit picking.

                Nit picking a fundamentally sound president undermines the Philippines, when enough people do it. I resist.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “His strength is that he is steady during crises” OK we are talking about the same behaviour – I call it stubborn and inflexible. We are just evaluating it differently.

                His definite weakness – and that of his Palace staff – is communication in all directions. That is why crises get blown out of proportion, especially in a nation that is very excitable you NEED really good communications people to sell things the right way.

              • Joe America says:

                The quality of firmness is a strength or a weakness depending on the situation. Giving the instability and the flak that comes at a president when he takes on crooks and established institutions of corruption, it is a grand strength, on balance.

                Communications, I have not really studied in a way that I could claim any credibility.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “Communications, I have not really studied in a way that I could claim any credibility.”
                I have a natural talent for communicating, my brother has it too, more professionalized.
                We (my little sister as well) have it from our old man, who HAD to write for Ferdie Marcos.
                Having said that, my brother is a top pro, a spin doctor in the political and corporate world.
                Goes to factories where there are layoffs to talk to the angry workers, to calm them down.
                Designed a major spin against European anti-smoking laws even if he is a non-smoker.

                He doesn’t go into much detail because he has to keep a lot of things secret of course.
                But he did tell me that you have to have pros to brief everybody before going to the press.
                That newspapers can be like piranhas everywhere and you have to calculate every word.

                “The President’s spokespeople hold frequent press conferences. The questions asked are elementary school level” I can imagine that. Again the maturity thing. People like sonny are the last products of American democratic education. You guys left too early. 😦

                “Again, the tabloids focus on the irrelevant and miss the important.” Now I understand why you want a state newspaper. A state gazette might be an idea, distributed for little cost. But not a proclamation paper like Bulletin Today (now Manila Bulletin) was during Marcos.

                How is the social media presence of the Palace? A lot of the action nowadays is out there. I mean why do YOU have to be the one to disseminate Mar’s good works and get suspected of being a Palace propagandist? It’s really amazing. Don’t understand it.

              • Joe America says:

                The President’s communications people and the Office of the President are active in social media. They don’t really get into debates or issue opinions, as they have to represent everyone, but they do distribute information and read the likes of Joe America. Senators are also active. I follow only Bam Aquino and Sonny Angara on twitter. I should pick up on some others.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “The quality of firmness is a strength or a weakness depending on the situation.” Noynoy is not firm IMHO, he makes it up by being unreasonably stubborn and self-righteous.

                But that is a weakness many have in the Philippines, on ALL sides.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “The President’s communications people and the Office of the President are active in social media.” Good. Then they should try to address the concerns of people, do they?

                A lot of Filipinos, not only the masa, are more intuitive than logical in thinking. Intuition is just a step before logic, it sometimes is right and sometimes is wrong. The thing when dealing with intuitive people is patience, breaking things down, questioning assumptions.

                But not by just discounting them. I know because I am a mainly intuitive “wild man” myself, my former consulting coach once told me I go more by what I see and what I feel than by logic, develop your logical side. The guy who was assigned to me to coach me on a major project asked me “why do you think it is going to happen that way” – I answered “intuition” – good he said, intuition is a guide (like you Joe said suspicion is good if used to examine things further) but check it against the facts like a good detective does, be sure first.

              • Joe America says:

                Do they address the concerns of the people? I don’t know. I’d say there is so much dirt and distortion our there that the number of people they can actually trust to deal straight is fairly small. If they are like me, they are dismayed at the tenor of discussion, the trolls and political advocates pushing a point of view.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “Nit picking a fundamentally sound president undermines the Philippines, when enough people do it. I resist.” There are matters where he is NOT fundamentally sound.

                But you are right in one thing – the same criticism happens in more mature societies as well, but does not affect them that heavily because they are already mature.

                Based on that, one could argue that too much democracy and press freedom is something the Philippines still is not ready for – OR one could say that it is going to be a lot of hard work to fetch the people from where they are at the grassroots.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “If they are like me, they are dismayed at the tenor of discussion, the trolls and political advocates pushing a point of view.” Everybody has a point of view, you do, so do I.

                Things only develop constructively if both sides are willing to try to see WHY the other side sees things the way they see them. I have duly considered and conceded Noynoy’s economic achievements – and given my own enhancement to it in the Mar blog.

                I have admitted to a certain antipathy the way Noynoy comes across, but I do not give in to it like others. I admit that my insistence may come across trollish to many, that my points of view may seem like political advocacy – but plural political opinions are part of democracy.

                I admit that I argue strongly, but I am willing to review my premises, or explain them. I may be a tough person to deal with, but I am fair. I could come with true killer arguments like my old man used to before, which is why I called him an intellectual Duterte – but I don’t.

                The thing is that a lot of those who are for Daang Matuwid are TOO convinced of being the only ones who are right. They have their point, that much I concede. But dragon fighters can become dragons too. Even I have to watch out not to become one. 🙂

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “Not for his political career or bank account.” Now I probably reflect the intuitive thinking of most masa when I say it seems to good to be true in the Philippines. That is why many think he might be doing it for his business benefit or for his social class.

                These concerns have to be addressed fully, because people are very scarred by history. They are distrustful from bad experiences. This is what has to be understood.

                Now during Marcos time we all had enough of “support the President” and say no evil about him, including laws against rumor-mongering and a quasi-state newspaper, Bulletin Today that is now once again the Manila Bulletin.

                I agree that after Marcos, things reverted to the other extreme: hyper-criticism, disorder. Nakawala sa kulungan is the Filipino term for it. The Eastern Europeans reacted similarly after communism came down, not used to freedom and the responsibility that comes with it.

                Pardon my insistence which comes across trollish sometimes. But I do understand how many people think, but are not able to articulate properly like I am fortunately able to. Or are able to articulate like Cayetano, but not able to control the emotion like I recently have.

              • Joe America says:

                The problem with intuitive thinking, or guessing, is that it is a confab of imagination, of superstition, of speculations and ignorance. To take that as one’s operating basis in some clinics is called “hallucination” or even, if it is a severe case, “lunacy”. It is also unfair not to give the benefit of the doubt to people who, by all visible accounts, are working sincerely for the nation. To take the best of the nation and label them as the worst on the basis of guess means the nation has no chance of ever establishing a straight path. Because, like the Senate witch hunt, people want to dirty up the place with titillation and condemnation.

                Meanwhile, no one is paying attention to the state’s needed business and China is laughing all the way to the next island they will reclaim.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “If the standard is comparison to other aspiring leaders here, the President looks really good: rational, calm, thoughtful, organized, managerial.” I think we talked about standards. There I agree: he is an improvement over others. Mar is an improvement over him.

                Maybe some decades into the future, there will be a cartoon “the evolution of Filipino presidents” with Noynoy standing straighter than Arroyo, Mar even straighter than Noynoy.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Time to take a break. Joe thanks for the kind reminder.

                Don’t want to become a troll because they are very ugly.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “The problem with intuitive thinking, or guessing, is that it is a confab of imagination, of superstition, of speculations and ignorance. To take that as one’s operating basis in some clinics is called “hallucination” or even, if it is a severe case, “lunacy”. ”

                Good investigators take intuition as an operating base to look for evidence. If they are proven right, fine. If not, move on to the next hunch. Intuition is the primitive precursor of rationality and is based on experience. It is sometimes right, but sometimes wrong.

                Don’t worry Joe, I am a good investigator, and I will in the future back up my intuition with investigation and arguments – if my intuition was wrong I will dismiss it. Very simple. 🙂

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “t is also unfair not to give the benefit of the doubt to people who, by all visible accounts, are working sincerely for the nation.” But is is also fair and healthy to check them, and call them out if they have gone against there own professed principles. To keep them straight.

                I have done this in a major posting below – I have called out Aquino and I have called out the author of the above article, because I see certain principles being violated. So be it.

              • Joe America says:

                The real risk is that you add to the voices of dissent against a stable government, and become a part of the problem, not the solution.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “Because, like the Senate witch hunt, people want to dirty up the place with titillation and condemnation.” I find the Senate report pretty objective and fair. No witch hunt.

                Precise arguments. Anyone who disagrees with the arguments may rebut them.

                Checks and balances. An important principle in any democracy. To prevent anyone from thinking he is above the rules. Even good people have to bear with them. They are an important corrective against self-righteous bigotry. A trap especially for GOOD people.

              • Joe America says:

                Consider what has been omitted from the report. Wait for this afternoon’s blog before drawing the conclusion. Checks and balances and reason are important. Objectivity is important. Here’s an example.

                During yesterday’s hearing on promotions, Senator Cayetano put a hold on General Pangilinan’s advancement because of the Mamasapano incident. It was reported (new to me) that there were Americans in the operation center with Napenas during the operation. They had communications gear. One of the Americans tried to get Pangilinan to fire artillery. Pangilinan refused. The American was breaking rules to engage in operations directly. Why? Because he could SEE the problem. He was the only one who could. He wanted to save the SAF. Pangilinan said no.

                The Senate report criticizes US involvement as crossing the threshhold into operations. It gives Pangilinan a free pass.

              • Joe America says:

                To find other “culprits” would diminish the case against President Aquino. The US is an acceptable culprit. Napenas is, too, because he reports to Purisima who was Aquino’s liaison man.

      • mushupork says:

        Isn’t this the 3rd or 4th operation to get Marwan?
        Is it possible that the earlier operations involved Mar and Espina?
        Is it possible that the president thought that involving less people this time around will increase the chance of success? (Less likelihood of information about the operation being leaked)

        • BFD says:


          Noynoy could not be reached by the Hong Kong leader and even made the excuse publicly that he only has to be reachable for heads of state. In diplomatic practice this is a slap in the face, Noynoy is not a good communicator.

          A Hong Kong leader is like a mayor of Manila, period.

          He is not head of state of a sovereign nation. That’s why the Hong Kong leader should have coursed his complaints with the Mayor of Manila at that time, but no, he INSISTED for Noynoy to say sorry to them, which is unacceptable by a sovereign nation such as the Philippines.

        • Joe America says:

          Take out all the hindsight judgment and slip back to before the operation. Consider three factors.

          1) Espina is a temporary head, interim, just assigned a couple of weeks ago. He has no security clearances and does not have the President’s trust and confidence yet.

          2) Purisima, on the other hand, had intimate knowledge of prior operations, the American engagement, and all the players involved, including secret intelligence channels. The working arrangement with the Americans requires absolute confidence because it could reveal American operating secrets in the global war on terror. In exchange for the silence, the Philippines gets the best of the best, in information. Satellite, drones, undercover plants, whatever.

          3) Napenas gives a bad briefing to the President. He suggests there will be only a few dozen enemy forces in the village where Marwan and Usman are located. The mission is postured as routine. This explains the President’s reaction to Purisima when he was informed the mission was in trouble. Why are they in trouble from a few enemy forces?

          Given that set-up, and the big prizes available at one place at one time, go for it. Simple, no need to make it a huge national exercise because it is just a local police operation.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            My arguments are stated in the big post below. Using Purisima during suspension was illegal and the President was part of it. Now I shall leave it at that and stop repeating myself because I resent implications that I am trolling here.

            Everything else I have already written several times.

            I NOW will take a break as promised, and then return.

            • Joe America says:

              Source that use of Purisima was illegal? De Lima says it was not. Aquino as civilian leader can cross lines of authority as he wishes. There were legitimate reasons to use Purisima.

            • Joe America says:

              My reference to trolling was regarding frequent repeating links in successive comments. I don’t think you troll, but you dominate debate. Based on 1,000 most recent comments as of this morning:

              PinoyInEurope 359
              Joe America 220
              karl garcia 77
              sonny 41
              Mary Grace P. Gonzales 39
              jameboy 33
              andrewlim8 23

        • Joe America says:

          Nine (9) prior attempts since 2010. There’s a table on page 25 of the Senate committee report.

  2. And this is the Crux of the problem. People were out blood, It was not the constructive sentiment of Our Sons,Husbands/Fathers should not be sent out on a mission like this again.

    And what mission is that? A poorly planned one or a had a worthless objective? Was the risk factors poorly assessed? If it was poorly assessed then who were the people who did the assessment and what could be done to create an environment where poor assessments are not possible?

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Assessing oplans is a professional’s job. For the President to meddle in its details would be micro-managing it, which is even worse.

      • Yes and thus we are left with the Question was the reason for the plan just? I believe yes and the main guilt of the president is in trusting the wrong people.

        • andrewlim8 says:

          I don’t think anyone is questioning the lawfulness or justness of the intent to get the terrorists.

          Oh, except for our resident Marxists, who keep asking “who gave the greenlight?” Shows you how ideology can affect rational thought.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Yes he is, I wrote about that in more detail further down. Like a CEO who chose a yes-man (Purisima) instead of competent and thorough people (Mar and Espina) and an overambitious “project manager” to handle things (Napeñas). Happens in IT as well.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        As the “CEO” overseeing things, he should have asked for executive summaries of major aspects of the operation and asked some important questions like what is the back-up?

        Or another variation is – find a competent adjutant to take care of things – Mar and/or Espina would have been better for that, being thorough, than his ass-kisser Purisima.

        In that sense, Noynoy showed bad leadership and is definitely responsible from a strategic point of view, even if Napeñas is liable from an operative point of view.

      • surfer sison says:

        Pnoy cannot trust a 4 star and a 2 star general for the operations ? those credentials are not good enough ? give me a break !

        • And trust was given because of prior records, these records known only to the President not to me, not you PiE, not to many of us – confidential, security and intel exchange-type of records… you are one generalizing person who seemingly has a crystal ball with you at all times who is so fond of labeling people as ass-kisser, hypocrite, immature, fool, too many I lost count. It must really be difficult for the likes of us ordinary human beings to live in your perfect world.

  3. karl garcia says:

    The guy leading them was all urban, the saf were trained for urban war fare, napenas never been to the jungle or any terrain other than city/town. What’s the point of thewhole operation present a warrant of arrest?

  4. Bing Garcia says:

    One very important information overlooked by the BOI and the senate is that Aquino ordered Purisima to inform Espina of the oplan.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      That is Aquino’s mistake – he trusted that sipsip too much. Never trust ass-kissers, they are not truly reliable. Well Aquino was surrounded by them from childhood, what to expect?

      • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

        Are you with him 24 hours a day that you can say these things and judge him like that? If you cannot respect the person, at least respect the position …calling him a fool…oh my…he may not be as good as you think you are but he is the elected president!

        • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

          You are just like those intellectual GRPs, with your name calling…Noynoying, self righteous, fool, etc…

          • Percival says:

            Can I, a noytard (I don’t care to be called one), have the pleasure to name-call too and label them as HATERS? 🙂

            “What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
            ― Albert Einstein

  5. Marvin says:

    Well said…

  6. Maxie says:

    “P.S. Are we to hold our Presidents and police/military commanders liable each time if there are casualties in every operation?”

    The families of SAF44 are crying for justice. What justice? Every soldier knows that there is high probability of dying in action in military operations. In the ongoing battle with BIFF how many soldiers have already died. Should their widows demand for justice too? Maybe the families should instead ask that their slain loved ones (the SAF44) be conferred the highest honors and be buried in Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

    • chit navarro says:

      I have always said this point of view in my previous comments on this issue – like any profession, there are always the backside. And to soldiers, death is always staring at them whenever they are on duty. They studies to be one, trained for the job and the families are well-aware of the consequences. So, why blame the President? Why become a soldier when you can not take responsibility for your death?

      It is just too much media-meddling… media being too biased against a “clean” President – one who does not dangle monetary benefits to so-called journalists so they will write up favorable news for himself.

      • davide says:

        As being said earlier by someone could not remember who, the SAF 44 families are like cry babies, I do grieved for them too, because If I am one of the involved family it would really irk me for the fiasco that happened; to much publicity made them more arrogant, unreasonable and asking for heaven for someone to own it, as being pushed by the anarchist, leftist, rightist and political crocodiles that saw a way to discredit a “clean” President. It is a well known fact that a soldiers left foot is on the grave, the families knows this too, everybody knows. It was just unfortunate that all hell broke loose for the worst to our SAF planners. @chit is right to much meddling with our media lumabas na parang sarsuela. Whoever is responsible that remains to be seen and we shall wait for it. For a fact the president already owned the responsibility on his early speech, but there must someone who is giving him a very bad advise from the cabinet on this tackling the SAF 44 incident.

        For whatever PNOY has been or would have been, in my opinion he is still immature. Could not emphatize, and does not know when to say sorry when needed. His loyalty to his kabarkada, kaklase, at kabarilan is also questionable, to the extent that it affects him on his judgement on still trusting them maski may evidences na that they have done something wrong, ex. . Purisima, Torres incompetent Honrado etc. Dont get me wrong, I still go for him (PNOY) and hope he recovers this debacle.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          “For whatever PNOY has been or would have been, in my opinion he is still immature. Could not emphatize, and does not know when to say sorry when needed. His loyalty to his kabarkada, kaklase, at kabarilan is also questionable, to the extent that it affects him on his judgement on still trusting them maski may evidences na that they have done something wrong, ex. . Purisima, Torres incompetent Honrado etc. ”

          High school management, or sophomoric was the term during sonny’s youth.

          Iskul Bukol management was another name for it at some point.

  7. It seems majority of the senators signed Poe’s report. Quo vadis, Philippines?

    Poe’s report is assigning the ultimate fault to the President – the buck stops at him, she says now, and as Joe remarked,….expressed her near advocacy of impeachment of the President ….

    Is this the plan all along, to watch out for an event (this was provided by the Mamapasano tragedy) and she will advocate for an impeachment, (even refusing to respond to a query as she “will be possibly sitting as a senator judge in Pnoy’s impeachment trial”? They are closing ranks on this President for fear that Binay might not make it in 2016 so he has to be helped by impeachment. Do they now have the number in the HOR who will do the impeaching? The next election is still more than a year to go, are they afraid that he will not maintain his current standing in the survey?

    Is this why she is so very quiet re Binay’s corruption, because deep in her heart, he wants him to succeed PNOY as in NOW na? Because that will be the end result if ever enough numbers can be had to overthrow him. I find it hard to believe that a President who has the country’s best interest in his heart is now being condemned, blamed and threatened by an impeachment trial just because he decided to trust Purisima even if he is suspended (- she just could not forgive that), that by the tabloid media’s prodding and never ending sensationalism, these senators are now making him a lame duck chief executive. The NTC, the bishops the uncle and his wife, the plunderers, the convicted (Coropna, Estrada, etc) are now jubilant, whooping with joy, hugging each other and remarking well done, our girl..!!!!!. And the other senators who signed so far? Shame on them!!!!!!

    I now doubt these senators’ (especially Poe’s) discernment, my own too, when I voted for her. I am so overwhelmed with disappointment.

    • Joe America says:

      It is rather amazing to me that a committee with “peace and reconciliation” in its name can be so blatantly political and divisive and destabilizing toward the Philippines.

      The Binay camp has progressed from:

      Ultimate confidence and dominance in the polls
      Makati garage condemnation resulting in attacks against good people, lies, blame-casting; downward slide in polls
      Attempted blow-up of the presidency with a “resign campaign” recruiting a lot of disenfranchised losers; it failed
      Ombudsmans filing; resistance to the suspension, challenges of law, dare, threats, blames
      The Mamasapano report and directing of the culpability of to the President to kick off impeachment motions

      Stability is what the Philippines needs most. It is being destabilized by those in whom we place our trust.

      Well, I suspect these are all measures of desperation. President Aquino needs to step up and take the leadership reins. Not just run his government from behind a desk. The termites are eating at the fabric of his legacy.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        “President Aquino needs to step up and take the leadership reins.” Yes.

        Better late than never. Filipinos go in all directions if you are not a firm leader.

        What Noynoy lacks in firmness he tries to make up by pissed-off stubbornness.

        • davide says:

          I dont think he has it, as Sen. Osmena said! PNOY is hard headed. His ego and pride (chicken) wont allow him to do so, had he apologize on the early stages it could not have reached very hard to control situation. Pinoy’s are very forgiving, but his actuations was far more wanting during the arrival of the dead SAF 44, It seems that he has a very very high superiority complex.

    • Don’t over react on impeachment call. It’s never gonna happen. Remember that our Senators are politicians too. They will say anything the majority of the voting populace wants to hear just to protect their political interest. It not that they mean what they say, they are not going to do it, but they have say it because they have to survive in politics.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Poe did it very cleverly: she said that the only way to hold the President accountable WOULD be by impeaching him. She did not say that he SHOULD be impeached.

        Poe’s strategy is playing many sides and keeping her options open.

        • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

          She just stopped short of saying it, not answering a query because she may sit as judge in the senate trial once he is impeached…

  8. josephivo says:

    What I still miss are the insider stories. People do not always take rational decisions. Likes and dislikes, emotions as excitement or fear, physical conditions, fight for improvement in picking order… so many things to explain decisions.

    What where the Bilf and Milf commanders thinking? Just a defensive reflex, a good shooting and looting opportunity, or a calculated decision to torpedo the BBL… ?

    What were the local AFP and PNP commanders thinking? What the 2 and 3 star generals? Suspicion of each other lifestyles, revenge for being kept out of a possible 5 million $ reward, fear of torpedoing the BBL, hurting civilians…?

    In the end it is all “factual”, but for the lessons learned aspect the analysis of the decision making processes is more important. The president (and American advisors) might be to blame because they underestimated the “non-professional” – or “Filipino” – aspects in the operational decision making.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      My take on this:

      1. Most planning in the Philippines is highfalutin and theoretical, just like the laws – and ignores the realities on the ground.

      2. Laws and plans, even the BOI analysis, are usually very detailed but lack top-down structure. Usually you have different aspects of something that form the outline and for every part of the outline you have some sort of executive summary.

      3. Lack of foresight and risk management is a typical problem. Point out risks, their likelihood and consequences and managing the biggest risks is almost never done because just pointing out risks is seen as being disloyal in an immature culture.

      In corporate structures I have often seen situations were minor matters had to be brought up to CEO level because two departments that had to cooperate but did not like each other were under different executive board members – similar to PNP and AFP. Now just trusting an official who happened to be suspended to coordinate that was foolish, Noynoy should have had his mobile on or someone on call to wake him in a foreseeable situation.

  9. PinoyInEurope says:

    Now that there is a little more information, I have somewhat more expounded opinion:


    NOYNOY IMHO commanded an somewhat irregular operation by bypassing chains of command. Not trusting AFP I can understand, but not informing Espina and Mar Roxas? Surely Mar Roxas and Espina would have insisted on a fallback plan, knowing them. Maybe they were not involved because I know this from project situations – overconfident top management does not want people who ask too many questions. They want yes-men.

    Looking at Noynoy, I believe he is a leader that cannot take even constructive criticism.

    In IT I have seen major projects crash and burn because of this – I was often the one asking questions and insisting on safety nets when it was my job to do so, not everybody likes that.

    If you are for clean government, you have to accept that even your own guys can be investigated and WAIT for the investigation to be finished. Talk to them privately OK, but ANY form of official involvement is out of the question. Involving Purisima was very wrong.

    If you are head of a major operation, you do NOT switch off your mobile phone in the night. And you do not use text messages, you call and confirm. OK the other guys also did not make it clear to Noynoy how bad the situation was, they probably thought it solvable.


    PURISIMA had his own agenda in the whole matter and played his own game. He is a strange fellow and appears quite opportunistic (sipsip) to me. Did a lot of harm.
    But then again, I believe Noynoy is the kind of leader who wants yes-men around him.


    NAPEÑAS is the one who will be directly held liable. But if he had said no to the operation, what would have happened to him? Theoretically he could have said no, I will only follow orders from my direct superior and that was at that time Espina. Practically, he couldn’t. Well.

    Why was the equipment supplied to SAF not exhaustively checked beforehand? High-value target and elite policemen being sent into a dangerous situation and you don’t check? If that were a high-school operation I would understand, with pros no.

    Zero risk management and overconfidence. 84th SAC had two guides that did not know the terrain at night, that caused the delay to happen. 55th SAC was closest to the highway, but not to give them any guide was pure overconfidence – they bore the brunt of casualties.


    Leave all the others out of it – they were not involved in the planning, there was no Plan B for the Army to be called in case of emergency, no fallback plan. Of course it unravelled. Noynoy who was involved in the planning should have insisted on a Plan B. And kept his mobile on.


    So you have Noynoy who wanted it done, no matter what, his sipsip Purisima and both found an overconfident, overeager Napeñas to do it. The guy was pasikat in a way and out of his depth. Also this kind of situation can definitely happen in IT projects as well, I know from experience.

    Top managers that want things done bypass competent risk managers, ass-kissing middle managers who push things for the top guys and project managers who want to prove themselves but are out of their depth and do not get the support from those on the side.

    Had a similar big project situation when I was an up and coming project manager back in 2001 – I got demoted back to senior consultant for a major mishap. I was the Napeñas then. Of course I was directly liable, it burned my career, OK now I sell my own services and bypass that.

    In project management you have the triangle of responsibility, authority and work. All three sides of the triangle should normally be balanced. Purisima had authority without much responsibility and work, Napeñas had both of the latter without authority. Noynoy trusted Purisima too much.

    Politically/managerially I see Aquino as the main responsible for not putting two competent people like Mar and Espina on board, as they legitimately should have been – then it would have been different. And for listening to Purisima, who does not strike me as very competent or honest.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      In my situation in 2001, it was an sales guy who had over-promised, a somewhat strange customer care manager and an overly ambitious project manager out of his depth – me.

      The project caused major losses to my employer, just getting demoted was my luck.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        And we ALL bypassed our superiors and misinformed them, I remember. We wanted something big and glorious and ended up with a big failure. My boss at that time – whom I now do business with – told me when I finally reported it to him: “are you guys nuts?”

    • andrewlim8 says:

      I wonder if Franklin Roosevelt and the American public did this much retrospective analysis when he learned that 2000+ US soldiers died in one day,on D-Day.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        It was a completely different situation. Besides D-Day was a success and they had to continue their offensive. If you are talking about retrospective analysis, my former boss and business associate told me that THIS major battle is still part of the West Point curriculum: – as a major example of how NOT to do it, major aspects were similar to Mamasapano.

        • andrewlim8 says:

          Exodus was also successful in getting Marwan, but at high cost.

          Military institutions and war colleges will always analyze previous battles for lessons. But I was referring to Presidents and pundits like you, if they did this much.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            And it failed to get Usman. Usman was not even followed up.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              AND it jeopardized the entire peace process. Come on, sending cops into a ceasefire zone that LOOK like soldiers – and not having any backup plan. D-Day was the beginning of the end for Germany in World War 2 so one cannot compare it.

              Mamasapano is the beginning and the end of many things, only we do not yet know what.

            • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

              What do you call the current engagement between the AFP and the BIFF if not following up, PNOY urged the MILF to not stand in the way as we are chasing them who are protecting Usman

        • Joe America says:

          The lessons should be learned within the military, not in the senate or public arena. China did not even have to hack Government web sites, although they probably already have. They can just read the senate report and look at the charts and also know how America helps. They already are adjusting their invasion plans.

          The point is, the Philippine civilians are emotional and irrational seeking to extract blood from a turnip. They are not ready for war any more than the military is.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Two things:

            1) The public is wrong in being too emotional, but it is right in asking whether there was a failure of leadership on the part of the President. Noynoys lack of crisis management capability and crisis communication has always been his weakness and he has obviously not learned from past mistakes like the bus crisis. In that sense, he is NOT a good leader, his management is at high school level, or sonnys generation used to say sophomoric.

            2) Publicizing the results of an internal police investigation in order to divert blame to the commander is wrong not only from a security viewpoint, it is also very bad for morale. The one being publicly pilloried is Napeñas, not Noynoy. The above blog is doing it as well.

            • Joe America says:

              Well, you know, I think the President made mistakes. He did not cause the deaths. His purpose was honorable, his people experienced, he knew all the secrets about American engagement and the promises made to keep quiet about what specifically is going on lest enemies know. Purisima knew all this but not the newbie Espina, and Roxas really didn’t need to be involved. It was a simple operation the way he had been briefed. His initial reaction to the news that the unit was in trouble was disbelief, that the SAF force could not defeat 20 enemy people. What exactly led him to this misconception if not lousy intelligence from Napenas. He thought it was a routine mission.

              It was not. And no one has asked how 800 troops could be massed in such tactical elegance to hold off rescue troops and defeat the raiding force.

              I don’t hold the President at all responsible for the operation. He has made mistakes since, in how he responded after not attending the coffin arrival.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                “It was a simple operation the way he had been briefed.” Good managers have an instinct for when their subordinates are not telling the whole truth, because anywhere in the world subordinates may lie or cover-up things to look better or not to look bad.

                I think Noynoy is the type of manager who does not want to hear any negative things, the kind who says “just do it I don’t care about the details”. In a high power distance culture like the Philippines (ref terms used by Hofstede) that causes subordinates to cover up.

                My favorite author Malcolm Gladwell wrote about how Korean airlines originally had problems because in an Asian culture subordinates are not forthright to superiors due to respect, causing copilots to be too indirect to pilots or not daring to contradict them.

                Caused some crashes but in the end they learned to retrain everybody to dare say the truth even to a superior. It improved things. Napeñas might have been afraid to say the entire truth to Noynoy because of fear, asking for help only when it was too late.

                I remember how Polish President Kaczyński’s plane crashed in fog. He had already fired a pilot once because he had disobeyed his order and landed in a safer airport, causing the boss to drive for hours. The new pilot landed inspite of fog on a direct order..

              • Joe America says:

                Well, I fear your only information is speculation, and you are prepared to make very harsh judgments on the basis of the speculations. I’d say start with the assumption that people wanted to do important work to get Marwan, and build your speculations on good intent. You come up with different judgments.

                Well, I do, anyway.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                You could call it speculation, I call it my hypothesis or my take. Based on my own life experience, street smarts and the kind of character Aquino has shown so far: a certain vanity and stubbornness. He comes across as if he thinks he is blessed and can do no wrong and that annoys many people – in fact if he just acted more NORMAL and not like a national wannabe Dalai Lama, people would not be so vicious toward him.

              • jameboy says:

                Napeñas might have been afraid to say the entire truth to Noynoy because of fear, asking for help only when it was too late. – PinoyInEurope
                The SAF commander “afraid” to tell the entire truth to the President? You call it hypothesis, I call it a guess, a wild and reckless one. I’m sure you’re not going to invite discussion on the issue of the head of the operation being “afraid” to tell the truth right at the moment the carnage was happening which contributed in a bloodbath.

                I’m willing to look the other way if you’ll let go of the idea and move on to the more substantive and realistic-based assumption of the event.

                Please, let us not massacre the 44 PNP-SAF again.

    • Peter Pen Duco says:

      Sir, a lot of your premises seem out of touch to reality. Sprinkling it with your personal experience does not lend any credibility to it one bit. It is really contradictory to those who watched the full hearings/coverage.

      Just a sample to point:
      “So you have Noynoy who wanted it done, no matter what… NAPEÑAS is the one who will be directly held liable. But if he had said no to the operation, what would have happened to him”

      You make it sound like Pnoy has more info on the matter. It was Napenas’ pet project since day one (years in development per his senate testimony-have you watched it?). Collaborative work with Napenas.

      He presented a plan to Pnoy and was approved. How can he say no to his own proposal/project?

  10. jameboy says:

    It was the quality of the plan – the details in the plan – which would have been carried out, either with an unbroken chain of command or not, which caused it all.
    It was the proximate cause of the 44 deaths.
    It was the plan that killed the SAF 44. It would have gotten them killed even if the chain of command was unbroken. – Andrew L.
    Pardon my curiosity but I don’t get the idea that ‘the plan’, not humans, made the massacre possible. It is unfathomable to assume that the demise of the 44 PNP-SAF was caused by a non-human factor, hence, by implication all parties on all sides are innocent in the killings that happened. Really?

    An idea transformed into a ‘plan’ which ended up as the blueprint of a police operation that led to killings is not just a ‘plan’. We all know that. There are humans behind such plan. They are the ones who formulated, deliberated and finally concluded that their idea will become the plan for the operation. Sir, the ‘plan’ you are talking about is the product made possible by human endeavor. And we call those humans ‘masterminds’.

    If the planning was poor, it’s because the mastermind erred. If the plan failed, the mastermind is faulted. That’s the basic idea in assigning mistakes or errors in planning. We don’t stop at the ‘plan’ by blaming it and move on. We do that, we’ll be severely criticized for lack of sense of propriety.

    Another thing that negates the idea of the ‘plan’ as the caused of the death of SAF 44 was the introduction in the analysis of the legal term ‘proximate cause’. The definition of ‘proximate cause’ states, and I quote what was written above, “an ACT from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred.” It’s very clear, it’s an ‘act’ not a plan.

    I hope no one among the relatives of the departed read the analysis above for they would be shocked to learn that the death of their loves was really an event brought about by faulty planning and outside the ambit of human responsibility. It was all for naught.

    I can only surmise the gallant 44 PNP-SAF men turning in their graves as we speak.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Don’t take my citing the plan literally. Humans, obviously, not objects are liable. Hence, it is Napenas I am citing here. He conceptualized it, wrote it and implemented it. The “act” you refer to is the implementation phase of that defective plan.

  11. Jose Guevarra says:

    The Mamasapano fiasco is Noynoy Aquino’s fiasco as President. It is a “complex, non-linear” fiasco precisely because Noynoy did not go by the chain of command. Noynoy and his staff still do not get it that at the end of the day, the buck stops at the Palace.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      He did not go by the chain of command, but that did not cause the deaths of the 44.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Did Noynoy ask about whether the operation has been coordinated with the MILF? Why did the MILF bring it upon themselves that this was an encounter with the SAF? Could the deaths have been avoided by properly communicating with the MILF on Noynoy’s and his men’s part? Would Espina have advised him to communicate with the MILF?

        You could say that not coordinating with the MILF was precisely part of the operation, but Noynoy had to give it his green light for this to go, which he did. Thus, the 44 died.

        • andrewlim8 says:

          Go back to my definition of “proximate cause”.

          • Jose Guevarra says:

            The buck STILL STOPS AT THE PRESIDENT’S DESK. Period.

            • Peter Pen Duco says:


              And he is mandated to pour the contents to those WHO IS/ARE DIRECTLY THE REASON WHY there is a buck going around. Of course, he can pour it unto himself if he thinks it appropriate.

              In this case, it is not, despite your opinion. IMHO.

  12. Jose Guevarra says:

    Are we to hold our Presidents and police/military commanders liable each time if there are casualties in every operation? Was Franklin Roosevelt and his commanders liable for Operation Neptune (D-Day landing in Normandy) which resulted in 2000+ dead US soldiers? How about smaller operations like campaigns against kidnappers and robbery gangs? Do we hold police commanders liable for deaths among their ranks?

    Replace the the word “liable” with “RESPONSIBLE” in each and every question you have up there and the answer will be a resounding “YES!”

    • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

      If my memory serves me right, the President, in one of his speeches said that he was responsible and that he will carry this burden (the death of the SAF) to his grave. What more do the people want?

      I recall an instance when the late ex-president Aquino when, fed up by the insinuations by Enrile and his ilks that she is an NPA coddler, she said “as commander in chief, I have already given orders to go after them, do you want me to carry an armalite and go chasing them myself?” Or words to that effect.

  13. PinoyInEurope says:

    I am taking a break now – more work to do again, fortunately, and spring is in the air.

    But since Napeñas is the topic of this blog article, may he also speak for himself:

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      And since the Senate report is being spoken about as well, here is its Executive summary:

      And the bullet points are (according to the Senate only INDICATIONS of liability, actual finding of liability is of course the job of courts of law):

      1. The concerned members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other armed groups murdered and robbed the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) Commandos.

      2. Police Director General Alan LM Purisima commited Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions, violating Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and Section 36(b)(4) of Presidential Decree No. 807, in relation to Section 46(A)(3), Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

      3. PDIR Getulio Napeñas commited grave misconduct, violating Section 36(b)(4) of Presidential Decree No. 807, in relation to Section 46(A)(3), Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

      4. The President must bear responsibility for giving assent to and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions by PDG Purisima in connection with Oplan Exodus.

      5. The President must show leadership.

      6. There are indications that the planning and the execution of the Oplan Exodus were not 100% Filipino planned and implemented.

      7. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) should pursue peace with justice.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      One more report is forthcoming to add to the big picture, let us see:

      Manila—The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) today gave its assurances to Senator Bongbong Marcos through a letter to immediately provide his request for a copy of the report of the Special Investigation Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the Mamasapano incident.

      “We confirm that we received the letter of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to OPAPP yesterday, advising us of the joint hearing of the Committee on Local Government and Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation on April 13 to discuss the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF ceasefire mechanisms,” Director Polly Michelle Cunanan of the OPAPP Bangsamoro Communications Team said.

      Cunanan explained that the letter also conveyed the request of Marcos for a copy of the MILF report on the Mamasapano incident. “Our office has sent today a response from Secretary Deles addressed to Senator Marcos, acknowledging with appreciation the advise on the resumption of the Senate hearings on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law. The Secretary also responded to the Senator’s request with an assurance to send the copy of the report of the MILF Special Investigation Committee as soon as it receives the formal transmittal coursed thru the International Monitoring Team or IMT. ”
      – See more at:

    • PinoyInEurope says: – Enter the DOJ:

      Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed yesterday that the DOJ’s special probe team would look not only into the criminal liabilities in the “overkill” of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force troopers during the clash, but also the possible liabilities of resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima and former SAF commander Director Getulio Napeñas Jr.

      “That is part of our ongoing evaluation,” she said in a text message, referring to the liabilities of Purisima and Napeñas.

      De Lima earlier hinted that possible charges of multiple murder, homicide and other offenses could be filed against MILF members who figured in the clash with the SAF operatives tapped to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano.

      She said other possible cases include serious physical injuries, direct assault, illegal possession of firearms, violation of Republic Act 9851 or crimes under International Humanitarian Law and obstruction of justice.

      But De Lima contested the conclusion of the BOI on the liability of President Aquino, particularly his supposed violation of the PNP’s chain of command.

  14. PinoyInEurope says:

    Now that my anger has abated, state my case, of which I am certain.

    Emotions are the primitive predecessor of rationality – a lot of them are guided by the unconscious, which reacts based on experience. Yet they are a good guide if tempered by self-control and followed up by investigation and rational analysis. Which I now have done.


    I must say that my respect for President Aquino as the President has diminished because he has not followed his own principles. A President who wants to clean up the country must himself obey the rule of law, and he has not followed it. I cite two main points of the Senate report:

    “2. Police Director General Alan LM Purisima commited Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions, violating Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and Section 36(b)(4) of Presidential Decree No. 807, in relation to Section 46(A)(3), Rule 10 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

    4. The President must bear responsibility for giving assent to and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions by PDG Purisima in connection with Oplan Exodus.”

    The arguments in both points may be read in detail in the executive summary, I find them convincing and salient, with no holes. They have convinced me and that is not easy.

    It is self-righteous to assume one is above the law, especially if one has put oneself on a mission to clean up the country.. A President must lead by good example.


    Furthermore, the Senate, DOJ Secretary Lima and DILG Secretary Roxas all see possible liability not only with General Napeñas, but also with General Purisima. The above blog article has deeply angered me because it is in my view trying to pinpoint General Napeñas as the sole culprit.

    Now IF the motive is to exonerate President Aquino, to absolve him totally of everything in advance, THEN this is not something worthy of the SOCIETY OF HONOR. Principles that are stated or implied must be adhered to. I am here because I believe in such principles, and I have taken calls to order by Joe seriously, sometimes arguing them, sometimes accepting them. But I cannot be silent with this blog article, because seems to defame a policeman who did his duty.

    Napeñas will probably face charges. Let the courts decide whether he is liable or not, and let us accept whatever ruling is taken. Let us discuss blame and responsibility but not liability please. Render onto Caesar what is due to Caesar, and that includes legal rulings. This is my stand.

    • jolly cruz says:


      Why is it that everytime you make a comment you have to put yourself on a pedestal? You know everything and have experienced all the things that has happened in your job and have the answers to all the questions.

      As Mr Joe said, stop dominating the thread. You are becoming boring.

  15. karl garcia says:

    MILF said this would not have happened had they coordinated with them.

    Napenas DIDNOT include in his plan to coordinate with the MILF due to
    1) frustration of aborted and failed missions in the past.
    2) suspicion that the MILF are coddling, harboring an enemy of the state
    3) considered MILF as enemy of the state

    hip shooting kuda wuda shuda

    1)if napenas and purisima thought that the MILF is harboring a criminal, then they know the risks of entering a lion’s den.(with bees and wasps)
    2)if they reported to the president that it is just a routine no sweat operation, then they could not say that they told the president all the risks involved, they could have shown the president all the surveillance photos supplied by the americans that the bees and the wasps are ready to swarm once disturbed
    3) they assured the president that all bases are covered

    The president took their word for it, but never told them not to coordinate with the rest.
    The buck stops with the president?
    why is there any buck passing going on?
    He bore the responsibility till the day he dies, he felt he was not told everything by the planner, and he should just shut up about it?
    What do we want from him?

  16. payutenyo d. agimas says:

    I agree. military blunders are common and nothing we can do about it. we have no recourse for such failure except that the planners get sack and be bothered by their conscience for the lost of lives as a result

  17. jameboy says:

    The BoI report is out on the Mamasapano raid but the discussion as to where the blame exactly lay continues to rage. And it was to be expected because, aside from conflicting interpretation of the findings itself, the investigators were not able to get more relevant facts from the main people involved in the event like for example, PNoy, PNP Chief Purisima, etc. to make the report more exhaustive.

    Nevertheless, nobody belies with the overall result of the findings except the interpretation of the doctrine of ‘chain of command’. The report expressed in no uncertain terms the President violated the doctrine when it stated, “The Chain of Command in the PNP was violated. The President, the suspended CPNP Purisima and the former Director SAF Napeñas kept the information to themselves and deliberately failed to inform the OIC PNP and the SILG.” However, nothing in the history of our government a president has been indicted for violating the chain of command doctrine. I don’t see how a probable cause can be had against the President. That, and of course, the President cannot be sued while in Office.

    On the other hand, the effects of the political ramification and the personal consequences on Pres. Aquino is another matter. He may escape the long arm of the law and avoid prosecution but he cannot escape the wrath of public opinion which could either weaken or put to risks his position as Chief Executive.

    The massacre of the 44 PNP-SAF personnel, one for the history books, will forever haunt Noynoy Aquino after his watch is done. All presidents have baggages to carry after their term is through. Scars and wounds incurred by a leader in the performance of the tasks will remain in his heart and mind for the rest of his life.

    The Mamasapano carnage is an albatross that will forever hang around Noynoy’s neck. That alone, for me, is punishment already.

    • Joe America says:

      It only hangs around his neck so largely because there are so many crooks, political players, and bitter people about who are in the point, blame and ridicule mode that is done so well throughout the Philippines.

      Please read this afternoon’s blog. It begins to make clear that the Poe report is a POLITICAL document, not a fact-finding conclusion.

    • jtdelapaz says:

      Speaking from personal experiences, projects ( or military mission in this case ) get postponed or cancelled because the work order is trapped inside an approval process. Much time is wasted while waiting for approvals/signatures/buy-ins at all levels. I am assuming that Oplan Exodus only had a window time of only a few hours, and a decision has to be made despite limited information at hand.
      So i can understand why the decision-making circle was kept small ( only PNoy, Napenas, Purisima ) and have not gone through the normal chain of command.
      Just my opinion. Thanks.

  18. D says:

    Reblogged this on My Decade Long Travels and commented:
    It’s nice to read something different from what I read in the paper and what I hear and see in the news … a different take on how situation could have been and I hope we have more of this kind of public opinion in wider audience to enlighten people and not rely in an “entertainment” like take on the result of the reports by both the BOI and Senate.

  19. Jose Guevarra says:

    The only thing I would personally ask from Noynoy is an apology. Not because his actions directly/indirectly led to the deaths of the SAF 44. I would like him to apologize for his huge judgement error, particularly when he chose to exclude men who were also answerable to the SAF 44’s families, namely Mar Roxas and Gen. Espina. The President should have consulted with these two before agreeing to give the order for the operation his green light. The President also misjudged the MILF’s ability to control their men, especially in what is supposed to be a time of truce.

    Sure, the President makes these kinds of decisions on a day-to-day basis given the limited information he has. But this is why people are willing to accept the fact that he might commit judgement errors. In return, however, the President should also be willing to say two simple words when his actions are proven wrong by the their outcomes: “I apologize!”

    • Joe America says:

      The President can apologize as a publicity ploy, but he has no real need to if his acts were forthright in defense of the nation. If he was poorly briefed by Napenas, or if Purisima had top-secret information that Espina was not cleared for (he was in an interim appointment), then the President’s role was totally earnest and proper. I elaborate in this prior comment:

    • josephivo says:

      After Ramos analogy with the sorry of GMA this became impossible. All the people will remember is “all presidents are the same” and that is definitely not the case.

    • jameboy says:

      The only thing I would personally ask from Noynoy is an apology. Not because his actions directly/indirectly led to the deaths of the SAF 44. – Jose G.
      I share the same sentiment. I wish PNoy would apologize or say “I’m sorry” to the Filipino people not because he caused the debacle in Mamasapano but because as hard as he tried to come up with something that will benefit the country in terms of security and peace and order an unfortunate event resulted in the process. I want him to tell the country that what prompted Oplan Exodus was in part the desire of his administration to pursue and defeat terrorism in the country. I would like to hear him say that in war on terror we all expect that lives will be put on the line and our men and women in uniform will be exposed to risk or even death for the enemies are determined to do damage in return. But having said that, he should also express and share his own feelings of sorrow and sadness on the unexpected number of casualties incurred by the PNP and remind the people that he will not stop until the perpetrators who caused the death of the 44 PNP-SAF is brought justice.

      He should also apologize to the civilian authorities that was bypassed in the conduct of the operation and express his utmost and continued support in the mandate they swear to uphold and pursue. He should emphasize their being left out should not be construed as a wavering of trust and confidence on his part but just a blip brought about by the unusual planning of the operation and the confusion that occur in it’s implementation. Filipinos understanding as they are would warm up with the President once they feel and witness how sincere and remorseful he is. It may not be a 360 degree turnaround but he will be able, I’m sure, to eventually convince people to see his side of the story.

      Only thing is, each day that passes while the President remains unmoved and timid towards the call for him to face the nation and offer an apology only make things more difficult for him because it tends to enforce the view that he really doesn’t want to admit an obvious mistake on his part and own responsibility as the leader of the country. That and the political opportunists who are having a heyday gathering momentum to destabilize the situation only make things worst. PNoy’s continuing recalcitrance only generates a feeding frenzy among these political charlatans.

      I hope the President would finally rise above recrimination and be the father that he is to the nation. I don’t think that is too much too ask for in this time of national grief and sorrow.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Thank you. You clearly spelled out everything I have been wanting from Noynoy with regards to this unfortunate incident.

  20. josephivo says:

    The cost of corruption, how many hundred thousands of lives got lost due to corruption? Funds disappearing and causing abortions, mal nutrition and lack of medical care? N x 100,000 versus 44 or 67, there is no comparison. Where is the thousand fold indignation in this blog, in the media, in the senate?

    Or are mourning poor people less tragic than mourning widows of armed fighters? Poor people are more used to it anyhow. Or is it just because we made poor people less visible?

    Isn’t the president ultimate responsible too? Why is Binay still in office? Why many corrupt judges? Why corrupt army and police officers, politicians, civil servants? Why are there still so many citizens with stolen money running free? His suspicions of wrong doing and flaws in all these cases must be much stronger and more concrete than they were in the Mamasapano case.

    Replace Pnoy not by a commission but by an almighty, all knowing Saint! (and don’t ask the electorate, Saints don’t lie in their promises, don’t give stolen handouts, so they have no chance to get elected).

    We should set the agenda correct. After one month of hammering on Mamasapano, we need at least 100 months of hammering on corruption!

  21. edgar lores says:

    1. It may not be proximate cause but going back in time and if we had to assign a cause, would it not be the harboring of foreign terrorists by the MILF?

    2. Everything flows from that. Remove that one factor, and there would have been NO planning, NO operation, and NO deaths.

    3. The presumption is that the MILF harbored the fugitives. I would have to say the presumption is valid.

    4. Of course, one can go further back in time and ask, “Why did the MILF coddle the foreign terrorists?” And the answer to that goes to centuries of culture, discrimination, religion and the whole shebang… all the way to the Primary Cause.

    5. So the MILF did the harboring… and the MILF/BIFF did the killing, or most of it. Do I advocate the thrashing of the BBL? No.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Edgar, this is rather like what Middle Easterners say to Filipinos who get into vehicular accidents with them. If you were not here in the first place, this would not have happened! 🙂

      Proximate cause is legal doctrine and used to get into more definitive determination of liabilities when injuries occur.

      Pilosopo! 🙂 But I want to hear you on the butterfly effect.

      • edgar lores says:


        Ahaha! But the Arabs invited the Filipino workers because they cannot do certain things on their own… so it’s their fault!

        You are putting the responsibility for the Mamasapano deaths on the plan and its author. I’m a wide-picture guy; the minutiae of quotidian tragedies, the finger-pointing exercises, escape me.

        Sorry, I’m not focused these days and couldn’t discuss why mermaids sing much less the chaos theory.

    • josephivo says:

      Correct analysis, but the next question could be too “who declared Marwan an international terrorist?” Can MILF have had different information than the CIA? And if the CIA knew and the MILF knew, how comes the MILF or the government’s peace negotiators didn’t know?

      Nor the huge amount of explosives, nor the innumerable amount of detonators, nor the sophisticated communication equipment or anything else in Marwan’s humble nippa hut indicated active terrorist activity. Could it be that somewhere there was consensus that Marwan was harmless now and that a known terrorist under surveillance was more valuable than a dead one? I think that both, our American friends and the MILF have some explanation to do.

      On top I still believe that the purpose might have been to reinstate Purisima with Americans praise for his success. Or opposite, once it got going to divert attention from corruption, look at the reception committee in Manila of the coffins. A lot of parallel communication must have been going on during the 12 hours the fight lasted, field commanders and generals with only one cellphone and one burst of texts every hour? What are their political affiliations? What is their lifestyle?

      Without the suspicion of corruption and trapo-political motives the search for answers on Mamasapano might have made sense. In the current political context the search is useless. So let’s focus on corruption again.

      • Joe America says:

        Let’s also focus on lessons to be learned, and stop trying to find people to hang the deaths on. One of the committees is “peace and reconciliation”. That’s a joke. This Poe report supports the angers of the public and the whacko destabilizers. How hard is it to acknowledge the president has already acknowledged his responsibility, and to move on?

        Justice in this case is not to be found in hanging someone, but in making sure it does not happen again.

      • edgar lores says:

        Oh, definitely the CIA or the Department of Homeland Security is involved in this up to their eyebrows. But they keep their silence… unlike our dear president.

        If Marwan was correctly tagged as an international terrorist, and I would have to say he was, it would still be just to pursue him… if only to contain his toxicity.

        The main purpose was still to get Marwan, although there could have been secondary objectives as suggested.

        The corrupt are blowing this out of proportion precisely to keep the spotlight on the President… and not on them.

        There are hardly any sane voices left. (Quick, name one. See if you can in three seconds.) Everybody is baying for blood… as though not enough has been shed.

        And our little princess in the Senate has suddenly turned into Miriam Jr.

        As a matter of curiosity, who is advising the President? Who does he confide in? He does not seem to have a sufficiently Machiavellian consigliore. The President is too sincere, too earnest and, in a way that works against him, too naive.

        • “But they keep their silence… unlike our dear president.”

          They are making him defensive which is not as he should be..

          Actually, in one of his texts to Sec. Mar, he cautioned him not to give too many details relative to the operation as this might unintentionally divulge some security and intel matters… that text was reported by TV Patrol and gave it a different slant, negatively making it appear that he prefers to hide things from the people, done by TV Patrol by simply not completing the message, omitting the security and intel matters part. That’s the tabloid media for you…

  22. mindanaoan says:

    I didn’t know you can apply chaos theory to something that has agents that can make decisions.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Chaos theory has applications outside natural phenomena. It can be applied in traffic management, psychology, economics, all of which involve humans making decisions.

      • mindanaoan says:

        Sorry, it came out a little facetious. I think I understand what you mean in the given context. But strictly speaking, decisions will take out determinism in a system, and you’ll get either something predictable or totally random, not chaos.

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