Police probers: Purisima acted without authority

Bea Cupin
Police probers: Purisima acted without authority
According to the BOI report, the power and authority of Director General Alan Purisima as top cop 'ceased to exist on the day of his suspension'

MANILA, Philippines – Call it advice, a command, or his work as a “consultant,” but resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima had no business in the planning and execution of “Oplan Exodus,” a January 25 police operation that took the lives of at least 65, including 44 elite cops. 

This is according to a section of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI) report, a copy of which was submitted to PNP Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina on Thursday, March 12. 

The Ombudsman issued a preventive suspension order on Purisima  early December 2014 over graft charges, yet the police general apparently played a key role in the operation. 

The report noted that the “powers and authorities of PDG Purisima ceased to exist on the day of his suspension.” 

Approval for the operation, the report noted, should have come from Espina.

In his report to a Senate investigating body, however, Purisima hit back at Espina and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

The former PNP chief was briefed by the Special Action Force (SAF) early January 2015. Purisima also sat in a January 9 briefing at Bahay Pangarap, President Benigno Aquino III’s official residence in Malacañang.

Also present at the January 9 briefing was Purisima, sacked PNP SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas, Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez from the PNP Intelligence Group, and Aquino himself. 

Espina was not involved in the planning of the operation and only knew of “Oplan Exodus” on the morning of January 25, when SAF troopers were already engaged with fighters from the Moro Islamic LIberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups. 

Complete findings

JOB IS DONE. Members of the police Board of Inquiry sign the final report they submitted to the PNP OIC chief.

Reporters were able to catch a glimpse of the 120-page report as members of the BOI – Police Director Benjamin Magalong, Police Director Catalino Rodriguez, and Chief Superintendent John Sosito – signed the copy they would be submitting to Espina. 

The media, however, were not allowed to see the findings of the report. 

From Espina, the report will then be submitted to Roxas, who ordered the creation of the BOI. 

As of Thursday, at least 5 copies of the report were printed, ready for submission to Espina, Roxas, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Ombudsman. 

Another 60 to 70 copies will be printed, some of to be  be given to the families of the 44 SAF troopers who died in Mamasapano. 

In an interview with reporters also on Thursday, Magalong said the BOI is ready to present to the media and the public should Roxas give them the clearance. “Kung kami lang tatanungin ninyo, gusto na naming ilabas (If you ask the BOI, we’d want to release it to the public right away),” said Magalong. 

Magalong said the 6-week probe, which he considered the “most challenging” investigation of his life, only has a fact-finding mandate.  

It will be up to other bodies – such as the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service, the Ombudsman, and the Justice Department – to determine any possible administrative and criminal charges for the personalities involved in the operation. – Rappler.com

Related stories on the BOI report:

6 Americans gave real-time info to SAF

Don’t you trust AFP? Aquino asked Purisima, Napeñas

BOI: Mamasapano report presents ‘true picture’

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.