Mourners take part in a memorial for the victims of the Mamasapano encounter in front of the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Quezon City Tuesday. The groups demand truth and accountability from those involved in the bloody clash, which resulted in the death of 44 PNP-SAF officers, 18 Moro rebels, and 7 civilians. (MNS photo)

Mourners take part in a memorial for the victims of the Mamasapano encounter in front of the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Quezon City Tuesday. The groups demand truth and accountability from those involved in the bloody clash, which resulted in the death of 44 PNP-SAF officers, 18 Moro rebels, and 7 civilians. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Apr 9 (Mabuhay) –A lawmaker joined the growing chorus of people who believe the killing of the 44 Special Action Force troopers in Mamasapano last January was a massacre that could have been avoided had the military sent the necessary reinforcements for the beleaguered troops.

Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas on Wednesday slammed the military’s  failure to provide the needed artillery support for the SAF troopers even if its officials were already aware of the covert police operation at dawn.

“As early at 7 in the morning, SAF and key officers were asked to convene and discuss the artillery report. Granting Oplan Exodus was deeply flawed, we can’t use it as an excuse for not providing artillery. What transpired is a massacre, what followed is a lack of response for help,” she said at the House  of Representatives’ third hearing on the Mamasapano fiasco.

At the previous hearing Tuesday, 1st Mechanized Brigade Commander Col. Gener del Rosario recalled meeting with SAF officials Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and Battalion Commander Senior Inspector Michael John Mangahis to discuss reinforcements to the police commandos pinned in a gunfight with various armed groups in the cornfields of Mamasapano.

Del Rosario said he had difficulty figuring out the best way to help the beleaguered police troops because the officials were unable to provide the exact location of their men.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said the lack of information regarding the location of the SAF troopers prevented him from sending the necessary reinforcements immediately.

Sacked SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, however, said Taliño and Mangahis gave specific details on the location of their troops to Del Rosario. He also read the text he sent to then-suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, who was reportedly overseeing the operation, and to PNP Officer in Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

“As early as 7:53 in the morning, nandoon na sina Talino at Mangahis, ibinigay ko na iyong  grid coordinates ng SAF na humihingi ng troopers at support. Ito po yung text message ko: ‘Nasa paligid ng 1st grid coordinate ang kalaban, baka hinihingi ng artillery support sa army.’ Ipinadala ko rin ang text na iyon kina Purisima at Espina, ganoon din ang contents noon,” he said.

Despite the answers given by Pangilinan and Napeñas, Arenas complained that the questions lingering in people’s minds remain unanswered.

“We need a closure or else we will be like telenovela na we will continue to answer. We are not making them fight, we want them to unite. Hindi ho natin pwedeng ipakita na tinatakpan natin ang iba. Yun ang comment natin, kailangan nating sagutin para hindi na maitanong sa susunod na round,” she said.

She warned that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law might take time before it is approved by Congress unless the public is given a full report on the Mamasapano incident. (MNS)