SUPPOSED to be, the biggest story last Friday was the return to the country—alive and kicking literally—of suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa until another major story broke out—the not-so-secret burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Later, I heard many personalities talking over radio and television and claiming it was a secret burial but was it really secret?
‘Secret’ is something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others such as a ‘state secret’ but in the case of the Marcos burial, it was not totally a state secret after all as National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Superintendent Oca Albayalde made the disclosure two hours before Marcos remains were interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
To me, it was what my friends in the police and the military call as ‘Time-on-Target’ plan, an operational strategy that timed the release of information about the operation to the moment of the main effort’s arrival at the target area. This was already done during the infamous Mamasapano operation approved by former President Aquino in January 2015 leading to the killing of our Gallant 44.
The official definition of ‘Time-on-Target’ is the military coordination of artillery fire by many weapons so that all the munitions arrive at the target at precisely the same time. The military standard is plus or minus three seconds from the prescribed time of impact. In terms of place, the historical standard was for the impact to occur within one circular error probable of the designated target and delivering maximum damage too.
During the planning of the PNP Special Action Force’ mission to neutralize Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it was discovered that nobody outside the SAF planners would know, not even then PNP Officer-in-Charge, General Dindo Espina and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas of the plan to secretly insert hundreds of SAF commandos in Maguindanao to capture Marwan dead or alive.
My friend and basketball teammate, the down but still highly-respected former SAF commander, Gen. Leo Napeñas ‘Time-on-Target’ is now the new coordinating parlance for both the PNP and the Armed Forces. Although it is not part of any established protocol, I heard that the new ‘concept of operation’ was designed to achieve the best result regardless of what the resulting public opinion will be.
Based on official records, ‘Oplan Exodus,’ the operation to get Marwan was approved by Aquino and implemented by then suspended NP chief, Gen. Alan Purisima and Napeñas to the exclusion of Espina and other top PNP officials. Last Friday, only a few PNP and AFP generals knew of the Marcos burial plan.
Many are now hitting the Marcoses and the Duterte administration for the alleged ‘secret’ Marcos burial but will it do our nation any good if the plan was announced weeks or days ahead? An announced Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, of course will be opposed by so-called Marcos victims, the elite and the influential Catholic Church and would result in big street demonstrations.
That would mean thousands of anti and pro-Marcos people marching to the streets leading to the Heroes’ Cemetery and possibly taunting each other willfully to the point of engaging in violent clashes with security troops standing in the middle. Remember what happened at the recent dispersal operation in front of the United States Embassy in Manila which clearly showed protesters provoking the police and causing some officers to react violently?
Do we really like blood to spill on the streets and are not growing impatient of the same people who call for violence in protest rallies, the rich and the influential ones who cry to high heavens that they were martial law victims? What has also happened to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board which in December 2015 announced it needs more time, staff and resources to process almost 80,000 claims?
There is also the influential Catholic Church whose leaders, it seems to me are not following what our Dear Lord Jesus Christ has preached them—the act of forgiving. As Jesus had said, ‘let him who is without sin cast the first stone.’ I actually heard one priest denouncing the Marcos burial and I was laughing because this was the same ‘holy man’ who was accused by a lady friend of having sexual relationship with her but that would be a very long story.
As President Duterte had clearly pointed out, the Marcos burial was an issue between the Marcos family and the Aquino family and their supporters. Although the former President had said that the issue surrounding one of the darkest days in the history of the country was never about their family versus the Marcoses, it was very clear that known Aquino supporters were in the forefront of small street protests last Friday.
They include several senators and congressmen and yes, Vice President Leni Robredo whose May victory is being questioned by Sen. Bongbong Marcos. As my friends are saying, announcing the exact schedule of the Marcos burial will give anti-Marcos groups the lead time to muster and bus the same crowd of people who are all girding for a fight, a violent fight. As many have remarked, who is the real thief in the night? Maawa naman tayo sa Pilipinas!