Tony Velasquez and Pia Hontiveros interviewed Brig. General Edgardo Gurrea about the Report on the Basilan Beheading Incident (July 10) submitted by the "Independent Investigating Committee" to Jess Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Here is audio of the entire interview.
or download the MP3
Under incisive questioning by Pia Hontiveros, General Gurrea revealed an important detail that as far as I know has not yet been revealed until now. Gen. Gurrea relates how he was attending a seminar on the Human Security Act in Cagayan de Oro on July 10 last, together with othe officials. He attests to listening to several conversations between General Benjamin Dolorfino and a Major Makatuon in the staff of relieved Basilan Commander Colonel Ramiro Alivio in which he orders Major Makatuon to contact his MILF counterpart and to do everything to "de-escalate the tension" at Al Barka, Tipo-tipo.
General Benjamin Dolorfino should be investigated thoroughly for his actions and communications on July 10, because I have a feeling he is the one responsible for giving thge "Stand Down" orders that were first mentioned in the After Battle Report of Col. Alivio that resulted in no fire support from OV-10 bombers and helicopters then available, and why no artillery was deployed during the fierce 10 hour gun battle that started when MILF rebels ambushed the Marine unit searching for Father Bossi. The unwitting revelations of Gen. Gurrea seem to confirm this. But I am not convinced that Gen. Dolorfino would have done this on his own. I am fairly certain that he consulted with Gen. Rodolfo Garci and Jess Dureza also. This from a previous interview with Gen. Garcia on Cross Roads 2 weeks ago.
If this is really what happened, there will be certain bits of double talk from Gurrea today that will become part of my rogues gallery. For example, the path the Marines were taking to return back to base after a fruitless search for Father Bossi was described by Gen. Gurrea not any more as "Muslim territory" as claimed by the MILF, but an "MILF Community." Well at least he confirms the suspicion of many that if you so much as walk into an MILF community, even if you a uniformed soldier of a government having peace talks with the MILF, you could end up dead and beheaded.
The other interesting and beguiling turn of phrase from Gen. Gurrea was in his refusal to characterize the incident as an ambuscade even if the MILF itself admitted to doing the killings. He called it a ceasefire violation in which the Marines failed to coordinate with the MILF.
He also considers the murder of the 14 Marines to be a mere ceasefire violation and took up the Peace Processors line that the law should only be enforced on the Abu Sayyaf beheaders (all four of them!).
What he absolutely could not and would not explain is how the MILF can claim not to have been in cahoots with the ASG when the MILF just killed a bunch of soldiers who "didn't coordinate with them." Doesn't that mean the ASG coordinates with them about when they can come and lop off heads and limbs to steal wedding rings and cell phones of the Marines?
I sometimes wonder who the real enemy is! It almost sounds like it's guys on our side who are totally confused about their moral and constitutional duties.
The Peace Process should go on, but it must not interfere with everyday Law Enforcement, because the assumptions and time scales are all different.
Here it almost looks like the Peace Processors have special agents attached to the Ground Commanders' staffs who can literally micromanage tactical and operational aspects and interfere with the normal chain of command in critical, life-threatening situations.
That cannot be allowed to go on.
RELATED AUDIO RECORDINGS ON THE INTERNET ARCHIVE.
UPDATE: The best investigative journalism being done on this grave and crucial matter is being done by Ellen Tordesillas: Making Sense of the Basilan Debacle Part 1 and Part 2
I am a rank amateur compared to her!