‘Aquino didn’t give Napeñas guidance on peace deal’

Bea Cupin
(UPDATED) There was no 'clear or decisive instruction from the President to take into consideration the ongoing peace process with the MILF as well as the role of the peace process mechanisms in Oplan Exodus,' the BOI says
BROKEN CEASEFIRE. In this file photo, Army Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, head of government ceasefire panel, briefs Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on the return by the MILF of weapons seized from SAF commandos in Mamasapano. File photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III did not raise any concern about the possible impact of “Oplan Exodus” on the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the police Board of Inquiry (BOI) that investigated the Mamasapano tragedy said. 

In its 130-page report published on Friday, March 13, the BOI noted that the Aquino administration’s peace process with the MILF was not considered in the planning of “Oplan Exodus.”

The peace process led to a ceasefire between government and the MILF and the setting up of a mechanism that required both to coordinate with each other on armed operations in areas that include Mamasapano, an MILF bailiwick.

“Napeñas stated that President Aquino did not raise any particular concern on how Oplan Exodus may potentially put the peace agreement with the MILF at risk,” said the report. 

According to a presentation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines before the Senate, the President as Commander-in-Chief’s role in operations is to “give strategic guidance on how to handle a security threat.”

“Records do not show any clear or decisive instruction from the President to take into consideration the ongoing peace process with the MILF as well as the role of the peace process mechanisms in Oplan Exodus,” read the BOI report. 

“As Chief Executive of the Philippines, the President could have given strategic guidance to Napeñas on the implications of conducting a law enforcement operation within MILF-controlled communities,” it added. 

Napeñas, fearing leaks that would lead to another aborted mission, kept the operation a secret from the PNP’s top command, the AFP, Interior Chief Manuel Roxas II, and groups in Muslim Mindanao that help facilitate the peace process and the peace agreement that both sides signed last year.

Had the former SAF director bothered to coordinate with Brigadier Carlito Galvez, Jr., who heads the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Napeñas would have known that “in past experiences, ceasefire could only be achieved after at least 6 hours of negotiations,” the BOI report said. 

The Mamasapano bloodbath has endangered the peace process in Mindanao and caused the delay in the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law by Congress. The peace deal is seen as the biggest legacy of the Aquino administation. 

A current military offensive against the MILF’s breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, has displaced 93,000 civilians since February. –Rappler.com

 

Related stories on BOI

Aquino broke chain of command in PNP – BOI

Aquino has ‘no liability’ in Mamasapano – Roxas

Oplan Exodus ‘defective’

Napeñas assured troops of artillery, had no ‘abort’ option

6 Americans gave real-time info to SAF

Police probers: Purisima acted without authority

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

BOI: Mamasapano report presents ‘true picture’

 

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.