The Pata (Sulu) massacre happened on February 12, 1981. Over 118 officers and soldiers of the AFP were killed by the locals in what is described as the "largest number of casualties incurred by the AFP in a single incident."

To the local Tausug, it is the massacre of civilians who bore the brunt of the retaliation of the AFP and the transformation of Pata into a "no man's land".

The issues are complex. The narratives are legion, conflicting even.

I travelled to Pata with Lt. Col. Cabanlet (whose MBLT1 was scheduled to conduct medical mission and community relations activities) to conduct interviews and do more research on the very tragic event that severely scarred the psyche of everyone. Among those we spoke to were Mayor Anton Burahan of Poblacion Pata and several former MNLF commanders (CMDRs Rajad Sahibad, Mohajad Saribon and Khadaffy Kahal) at Baranggay Likud.

More research is needed. More validation is needed. But a complete picture needs to be completed. So that genuine healing can take place and everyone can move on. And so that the tragedy will never be repeated.