Gag order on Napeñas? 'I don’t do that' – Espina
MANILA, Philippines – The officer in charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified on Wednesday, March 11, that he did not issue a “gag order” to the former director of the Special Action Force (SAF).
“First of all, I never do that. It’s up to your discernment whether you say something or not,” Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina told reporters in a chance interview at Camp Crame.
Espina was reacting to allegations by the camp of former SAF chief Police Director Getulio Napeñas that the PNP OIC ordered Napeñas to decline media interviews until after the PNP’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) finished its investigation into the Mamasapano clash.
Napeñas headed the SAF when 392 of its troopers entered Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on January 25 to neutralize bomb makers and terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and Abdul Basit Usman. The police operation ended in the death of at least 65, including 44 members of the SAF.
In interviews, Napeñas’ lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre said on Tuesday that, under the orders of Napeñas’ superiors, the former SAF commander had been turning down interview requests.
Napeñas was administratively relieved following the bloody operation and has since been replaced by Chief Superintendent Moro Lazo.
It was Espina who let Napeñas hold an impromptu press conference more than a week after the bloody Mamasapano encounter, although Espina initially tried to “dissuade” Napeñas from speaking.
Espina added that he and Napeñas were still communicating, albeit sporadically. “When I have questions for him, he readily responds,” said Espina, who took over the PNP following the preventive suspension of its chief, Director General Alan Purisima.
Purisima, who was also a “key personality” during the operation despite his suspension, has since resigned from his post. – Rappler.com
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