20 questions for Aquino on Mamasapano
MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the scheduled resumption of the House of Representatives probe into the bungled police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao next week, the leftist Makabayan bloc on Monday, March 30, formally asked committee chairs to invite President Benigno Aquino III to attend the proceedings.
In a letter addressed to House committee on public order and safety chairperson Jeffrey Ferrer and committee on peace, reconciliation and unity chairperson Jim Hataman-Salliman, the Makabayan bloc asked 20 questions, which it said were not addressed in previous Senate and police Board of Inquiry (BOI) reports on the deadly clash.
Both the Senate and BOI report questioned why Aquino allowed then suspended and now resigned police chief Alan Purisima to be involved in the planning and implementation of the operation targeting wanted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan) and Abdul Basit Usman. Marwan was killed but Usman was able to get away.
A total of 66 Filipinos, including 44 elite cops, 17 Moro rebels and 5 civilians were killed as a result of the operation.
The Senate report held Aquino ultimately responsible for the operation based on his approval of the plan. The BOI report, meanwhile, raised questions as to whether Aquino had considered the ongoing peace process, which is now in its crucial stages, before approving the plan.
Aquino, meanwhile, said sacked Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas "tricked him" about the real situation on the ground. During the January 25 operation, Napeñas was reporting to Purisima while Purisima, in turn, was the one feeding updates to the President. (READ: No apologies from Aquino on Mamasapano)
The Makabayan bloc wants to "investigate further" these issues. The group includes ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap, Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate, Gabriela Representativces Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, and Kabataan Representatives Terry Ridon
Aquino must also answer questions about the involvement of US troops in the "internal" police operation, among others, according to the letter.
Here are the Makabayan bloc's 20 questions for Aquino:
- Why did you authorize or allow the participation of then PNP Chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus even though you were fully aware that he was already suspended at that time?
- If he were only an "expert adviser," why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC Espina and AFP Chief of Staff Catapang and that he did not follow said order?
- Why didn’t you, as the commander-in-chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the SAF, instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?
- When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF director Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?
- Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?
- What did you and Purisima talk about during the January 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, "Sabihan mo na ang dalawa (referring to Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Gen. Espina) kapag andun na. Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang"?
- How many times did you text Purisima and other officials about the operation on Mamasapano? What are the contents of these messages, if any?Was there an instance that you made voice calls to Purisima and other officials on the matter?
- You said that you were irked at Purisima because you could not make sense of his conflicting texts. Why did you not call him to clarify matters? Why did you not call other officials to know what was happening?
- You were aware of the probability of "pintakasi," that the SAF troopers will be attacked by any and all armed locals in the area. Why did you not order coordination with the CCCHH even just hours before the operation was launched?
- Were you not informed in the morning that the 55th SAC was being engaged in an encounter?
- Westmincom Commander Lt Gen. Guerrero testified that you were getting updates throughout the day at his headquarters in Zamboanga. Who were the officials updating you and what was the information they gave you?
- What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if there were any?
- Were you aware that the CCCHH was working towards a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting? When were you informed of this?Did you give any guidance in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?
- Did you give any orders to stand down? Did you not give order/s to Catapang and/or Pangilinan not to fire the artillery in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where the 55th SAC were engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?
- Why was there no air support during the Mamasapano operation?
- What can you say about Napeñas's statement that you left them hanging ("iniwan kami sa ere") and that this is the highest form of betrayal?
- Why did you lie in your first speech on January 28 about the involvement of Purisima during the period of his suspension?
- Why did you allow US intervention – from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the very conduct of the operation and the subsequent evacuation, as is obvious from the presence of six Americans at the tactical command post?
- What is your legal basis for allowing this intervention by the US military in a PNP law enforcement operation – a purely internal matter – even though this is not covered by the MDT, VFA, and EDCA?
- What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in the Mamasapano operations? Why did JSOTF close down on February 24, 2015?
In an interview Sunday, March 29 over state-run radio DZRB, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang is willing to cooperate with the House probe. The hearing is scheduled on April 7.
The House suspended its probe into the Mamasapano clash while the Senate and the BOI, among other bodies, were conducting their own investigations.
House leaders agreed to resume the investigation following a clamor from about 100 of 297 lawmakers in the House to reopen it before resuming deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. – Rappler.com