A mystery that surrounds the July 10 Basilan Beheading incident is why reinforcements never arrived during the ten hour long gun battle, why helicopter gunships sent to the area never gave fire support, and why the 105 mm howitzer batteries were never brought into the fray to support the pinned down Marine Unit at Tipo tipo, Basilan. Now comes the suggestion from an After Battle Report that the Joint MILF-GOP Ceasefire Committee may have instructed those forces to stand down because the MILF were considered "friendly forces" and the negotiating panel of Sec. Jess Dureza did not want to risk its ongoing deal with Al Hadj Murad and the MILF.
A front page PDI story by Yvonne Chua and Luz Rimban Friday leads off with the theory that...
The wrong radio frequency, plus the failure to inform the military official concerned, severely curtailed the capability of the Marines to fight back during the bloody July 10 encounter in Basilan province that left 14 soldiers dead, 10 of them beheaded.At first, this might seem a plausible explanation for the glaring absence of fire support and reinforcement during the ten hour gun battle on July 10. It's a neat explanation. TOO neat. Because near the bottom of the article under the subheading "Late Information" the erring radioman even files a formal affidavit ADMITTING his alleged fatal error, and by implication ABSOLVING everybody else, who of course conveniently knew nothing of the ongoing slaughter near Tipo-tipo:
A radioman of the Command Group under Maj. Nestor Marcelino has submitted an affidavit to AFP investigators attesting that the wrong radio frequency was relayed to Westmincom and, in turn, was transmitted to the pilots. Marcelino was relieved of his duties shortly after the July 10 encounter.Here is THE MORE PLAUSIBLE explanation that really ought to have made the headline on this newspaper article:
“Indeed there was no contact with the aircraft,” said the source, who also based his statement on interviews with survivors.
Contrary to earlier reports, the helicopters were not pulled from scene by Westmincom, the source said. Instead, the pilots, on their own, cancelled the mission, he said.
Lt. Gen. Eugene Cedo, Westmincom commander, was in Cagayan de Oro City at the time of the attack.
But investigators found out that a senior Westmincom officer based in Zamboanga City was not informed by his subordinates of the encounter until 4 p.m. that day. Fighting between the soldiers and the MILF broke out at around 10 a.m. and lasted for eight hours.
It was only then that the senior officer called a colonel in the 1st Marine Brigade to ask for an update on the operation, and learned that the helicopters were not firing.
The same senior officer also learned later from the brigade’s After Battle Report (ABR) that the troops fired only six rounds of 105-mm howitzers because, one of them said, “it was the ceasefire committee who ordered them not to fire because they were engaging friendly forces (the MILF).”
Government troops and the MILF reached a ceasefire only at 5 p.m.
The seven-vehicle military convoy was passing through Albarka town on its way back to barracks in Lamitan City after a fruitless search for kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. Three of the vehicles carrying 50 soldiers were attacked by about 400 MILF rebels.
WRONG Radio Frequency, or WRONG Radio Message?
One sounds like an alibi for the other!
UPDATE: Here's the scoop on the "wrong radio frequency" business.