4 months on, probe into Purisima admin case ‘continues’ – Roxas

Bea Cupin
4 months on, probe into Purisima admin case ‘continues’ – Roxas
The police's Internal Affairs Service, the Napolcom, DOJ, and Ombudsman are leading the probe into possible administrative cases against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and other officers over the bloody 'Oplan Exodus'

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The investigation continues.

He had strong, if not accusatory words against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima almost 3 months ago over the latter’s involvement in the bloody “Oplan Exodus.”

But on Monday, June 8, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II merely said the probe into possible administrative cases against the former top cop “continues.”

Patuloy ang imbestigasyon at kung ano man ang mailabas ng imbestigasyon ay itutuloy naman ito,” Roxas told reporters at the sidelines of a meeting on the newly-created Negros Island Region in this city.

(The investigation continues and whatever the investigation unveils, the [possible charges] will push through.)

It’s been almost 6 months since the PNP Special Action Force (SAF)-led operation on January 25 that claimed the lives of more than 60 people, including 44 elite police.

Purisima, who was then preventively suspended over graft cases pending before the Ombudsman, was found to have sat in meetings leading up to the operation, and was dishing out information at the height of the clashes between SAF troopers and Muslim rebels.

The PNP’s Board of Inquiry (BOI), tasked to probe the incident, said Purisima acted without authority when he continued to play a role in the top-secret operation despite his suspension. (READ: Purisima hits back at Roxas, Espina over Mamasapano)

The Senate panel that probed the incident, meanwhile, recommended that administrative charges be filed against Purisima and other police officials involved in the operation.

No administrative charges have been filed against Purisima or any of the police officials involved. The former PNP chief’s preventive suspension for the pending graft charge lapses Wednesday, June 10, but the beleaguered police general has filed for a leave of absence until July for “personal reasons.”(READ: Purisima ready to face charges over Mamasapano – lawyer)

Roxas, speaking to reporters, emphasized that Purisima’s return would have no effect on the PNP. “Walang pagbabago, walang pagkakaiba sa command structure ng PNP. Former Director General Alan Purisima does not have a command, does not have any units reporting to him so ganoon lang iyon,” he said. (No changes. There will be no changes to the command structure of the PNP…that’s just it.) 

Despite stepping down as PNP chief, Purisima remains a member of the police force and thus still holds the rank of 4-star general. He is not set to retire until November 2015, when he turns 56.

Even then, Roxas said, the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service, the National Police Commission, the Justice Department, and the Ombudsman are studying the possible administrative charges against the 4-star general.

‘Primarily responsible’

On March 13, the day the BOI report was made public, Roxas said it was Purisima who was “primarily responsible” for the carnage in Mamasapano.

The BOI also found that Purisima and former SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas both gave misleading or unverified reports on the day of the operation, which in turn affected how military and government officials responded to the situation.

After I read the final report….na-confirm ang aking pag-iisip na ang may pangunahing pananagutan dito sa pagkamatay ng 44 SAAF ay ang suspendidong director general Alan Purisima,” Roxas said of Purisima then. (The report confirmed my belief that the one who is primarily responsible for the deaths of the 44 SAF commandos is resigned Director General Alan Purisima.)

In the same March press conference, Roxas cleared President Benigno Aquino III of any liability in the operation, a claim that ran counter to the Senate panel’s findings. (READ: BOI head: Did I clear the President in Mamasapano?)

The BOI, meanwhile, said the President “bypassed” the PNP’s chain of command when he dealt directly with Napeñas instead of going through PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

Aquino, probes into “Oplan Exodus” revealed, was briefed about the plan to target Indonesian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan” and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman early January 2015.

Purisima was also present during the briefing and was given a briefing of his own before the meeting with the President.

In contrast, Roxas himself and Espina were kept in the dark, under the orders – or “advice” – of Purisima.

Citing “operational security” and fearing leaks, “Oplan Exodus” involved coordinating with military, local police, and other top officials “time on target” or only after their targets had been apprehended or killed. – Rappler.com

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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.