By Mortz C. Ortigoza
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Quezon City – The former police chief of the Metro District Command in Cotabato City reminisce the rapport between the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines during his stint there.
The reaction of Representative Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan) here was in relation to the controversy spawned by the gruesome death recently of the 44 police commandos because of the lack of coordination between the PNP and the AFP.
Bataoil, a former two –star police general, told the joint committees’ on Public Order and Safety and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity last Wednesday that the PNP then followed order even from the military.
“There was brotherhood between the AFP and PNP during my time”.
He said one of the acid tests of his leadership was when the brass at the Southern Command in Zamboanga City ordered him to meet the heavily armed troops of Moro National Liberation Front’s Chairman Nur Misouri, who just returned from a long exile, at a wharf in Rio Grande River in Cotabato City.
“With 150 heavily armed elements in several vintas na pumasok doon sa Rio Grande I was right there with a platoon facing him. “Mr. Chairman, I was tasked by the SouthCom’s commanders to meet you and ensure your arrival would be peaceful,” he recalled telling the battle scarred MNLF's top honcho.
Bataoil, a former commander of the elite Special Action Force, said there was no Oplan between the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in some of his operations but he was supported by the latter.
“I wish the time will come na iyong samahan ng AFP and PNP will be enhanced”.
He cited that he was aware of the situation of Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the acting Chief of the PNP, in the almost botched operation of the SAF. He added however that it was an isolated case.
In January 24, 392 British Special Action Service inspired commandos under PNP Director Getulio Napenas and Mamasapano SAS Operation commander Superintendent Raymond Train surreptitiously swept at the lair of the MILF, a rebel group that has an ongoing peace talks with the government, struck at the hut of Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, a consummate Malaysian bomb maker and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, and killed him.
The operation however was exposed when a commando tripped on a wire put by Marwan that trigger an explosion. It alarmed the rebels around 4 Am of January 25 who eventually cornered 78 SAF and pinned down and massacred 44 of them in a cornfield.
One of them however escaped and sprinted to his commander and gave the cut index finger from the right hand of Marwan for DNA examination by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation.