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Despite widespread criticism, Malacañang on Monday remained firm against suggestions for President Benigno Aquino III to apologize for the Mamasapano operation on January 25, which left over 60 people dead including 44 police commandos.
Aquino’s spokesman, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, said that the President did not commit any irregularity as regards the mission.
Pressed for a categorical answer on whether Aquino would apologize as suggested by political ally Sen. Sergio Osmeña over the weekend, Lacierda said, "You want a categorical answer? The categorical answer is that the President deals with the policy level."
Lacierda insisted that Aquino dealt with the Mamasapano mission at a “policy level,” not the “operational level.”
“The President deals on the policy level. What is the policy on that? We fight terrorism. We promote peace. We make sure that we alleviate poverty,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.
“These are the policy level and at that level, the President always harps on the policy. And I think there is nothing irregular. In fact, it should be a policy for our country to fight terrorism,” he added.
To illustrate his point, Lacierda likened the Mamasapano incident to a bridge construction accident.
“The policy is to promote public infrastructure. If for instance, a bridge collapsed and the construction workers died as a result of the collapse of the bridge… The President does not involve himself in the building of bridges or in the operation of neutralizing a terrorist,” the Palace official said.
On January 25, 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officers were killed in a firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The clash, which occurred despite a peace deal and a ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF, erupted after the police commandos supposedly entered an MILF-controlled area to arrest Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman and Malaysian terrorist Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan.”
MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal earlier said MILF members only defended themselves during the incident. Eighteen MILF fighters and at least five civilians were also killed in the clash.
Days after the bloody incident, President Aquino admitted that he knew and was being updated about the Mamasapano mission. —NB, GMA News