MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Thursday, February 5, denied a Manila Standard report that he allegedly asked President Benigno Aquino III to sack Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr and suspended national police chief Director General Alan Purisima.
“Hindi nangyari ang sinasabing pang-iistorbo ko sa pag-uusap nina Pangulong Aquino at DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima sa Palasyo para hingin ang pagbibitiw nina Executive Secretary Ochoa at PNP Director General Purisima,” Roxas said in a statement to reporters on Thursday.
(I did not disturb the meeting between President Aquino and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to ask for the sacking of Executive Secretary Ochoa and PNP Director General Purisima.)
In a report that came out on Thursday, the Manila Standard, citing Palace sources, said Roxas “recommended” that Aquino fire Purisima. “That would trigger your downfall,” the news daily’s source quoted Roxas as saying.
Roxas allegedly met with the President in the middle of a scheduled meeting with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on Tuesday, February 3.
“After several attempts to make the President understand that he needed to fire Purisima and were met with an emphatic ‘No,’ Roxas walked out on the President and banged the door when he left,” the Manila Standard quoted its source as saying.
Roxas denied the supposed conversation with the President.
“Pawang kasinungalingan iyan at nagpapakita ng kawalan ng propesyunalismo (Those are all lies that only show lack of professionalism). I appeal to the Manila Standard to get your facts straight and not rely on the imagination of your sources or spin doctors,” the Liberal Party stalwart said.
The report comes as the Philippine government sorts out the details surrounding a bloody police operation in Mamasapano town that resulted in the death of 44 elite policemen.
According to news reports, Rappler sources, and the erstwhile PNP SAF commander Police Director Gertulio Napeñas, it was Purisima who called the shots during the operation, despite his suspension.
Both Roxas and PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina were supposedly kept out of the loop in “Oplan Exodus,” and were told only after troopers had entered the area.
Purisima is close to Aquino, his friend since the late 1980s. The President is one of Purisima’s staunchest supporters in the face of corruption allegations against the PNP chief. (READ: Aquino, General Purisima and the past that binds them)
Roxas also denied that he had asked the President to sack Ochoa, who heads the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, which supposedly funded the Mamasapano operation.
Roxas and Ochoa belong to different Palace “factions” – Roxas is part of the so-called “Balay” while Ochoa is part of the “Samar” group associated with Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Roxas has supervision of the PNP as National Police Commission chairman. – Rappler.com
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