By Alden M. Monzon, Reporter

Aquino has no liability over Mamasapano -- Roxas

Posted on March 14, 2015

INTERIOR SECRETARY Manuel A. Roxas II said Friday that President Benigno S.C. Aquino III has no liability over the outcome of the Jan. 25 police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, amid a much-anticipated police report which said the chain of command was “violated” on the watch of the President and the police officers on top of that operation.

At a noontime press conference in Camp Crame on Friday, on the occasion of the handover of the Board of Inquiry (BoI) report to his department, Mr. Roxas said, “He [Mr. Aquino], as commander-in-chief, so authorized that Marwan is a target. There is no liability to that….The President recognized that Director General Purisima was suspended at wala ng kapangyarihan [and has no authority].

Kaya nga niya iniutos, Sabihin mo kay OIC Espina ito [That’s why he ordered (Special Action Force [SAF] chief Police Director Getulio P. Napeñas) to tell OIC Espina], precisely to correct the anomaly that there was somebody suspended in the middle,” Mr. Roxas told reporters.

“The President ordered Director General Purisima and Director Napeñas to coordinate [with the military] and this did not happen,” Mr. Roxas added in Filipino.

The targets of the said operation, also identified as Oplan Exodus, were terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Abdulbasit Usman. Marwan was killed in the course of this operation, which, however, escalated into a day-long skirmish that led to the brutal killing of 44 SAF operatives, allegedly in the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose peace agreement with the government faces uncertainty after this episode.

Mr. Roxas squarely blamed the outcome of the operation on Mr. Napeñas and resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan L. M. Purisima.

Sinabi ni Napeñas na hindi niya sinunod yung utos ng Pangulo….Sinabi din under oath ni Director General Purisima na hindi niya sinunod ang utos ng Pangulo at sinabihan niya si Director Napeñas na huwag sundin ang utos ng Pangulo, na huwag ipasabi sa chain of command, which is OIC Espina, saka siya daw ang bahala sa AFP, kay General Catapang,” Mr. Roxas said.

(Napeñas said he didn’t follow the orders of the President….Director General Purisima also said under oath that he also did not follow the President’s order and he told Director Napeñas not to follow the instructions of the President and not to tell the chain of command, which is Officer-in-Charge Espina, and that he will take care of matters with the AFP, with General Catapang.)

Mr. Roxas made these remarks in the company of Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director Leonardo A. Espina and police director and BoI Chairman Benjamin B. Magalong. Mr. Roxas also read portions of the 130-page report, of which an executive summary said, in part, “The Chain of Command in the PNP was violated. The President, the suspended CPNP Purisima and the former Director SAF Napeñas kept the information to themselves and deliberately failed to inform the OIC PNP and the SILG [Secretary of Interior and Local Government].”

The executive summary also said, “The principle of Command Responsibility demands that a commander is responsible for all that his unit does or fails to do. Command Responsibility cannot be delegated or passed-on to other officers,” but also noted, “Based on the records, Napeñas admitted that he had command responsibility with respect to Oplan Exodus.

The report is available online as of yesterday, including on the PNP website.

Sought for comment, PNP spokesperson Generoso R. Cerbo, Jr. said the report will lead to further inquiry before any legal procedure.

“Legal actions cannot be rushed, there will still have to be due process and it will have to be investigated, studied and if there is probable cause, it could trigger what we call in the PNP a pre-charge investigation,” Mr. Cerbo said in Filipino.

Any further inquiry will be conducted by the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS), the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), and the Office of the Ombudsman, Mr. Cerbo said.

Also sought for comment, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail dlF. Valte said in a text message: “We are unable to comment on the substantive points raised by the Board of Inquiry’s report until such time that the President is able to study its contents.”