MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay had a few choice words to say about Interior Chief and presumed 2016 presidential rival Manuel Roxas II and his leadership in the wake of a controversial police operation that killed at least 65 people, including 44 elite police commandos.
The Vice President, in an interview with Bombo Radio Dagupan on Monday, March 2, said the top-secret police operation and its aftermath made the public see the kind of leadership Roxas, a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, has to offer.
“Kahit papaano naapektuhan po sila. 'Yung nasubukan, naranasan ng taong bayan kung anong klaseng leadership meron si Mr Roxas,” Binay said. (The issue affects him. The public was able to test and see the sort of leadership Mr Roxas has to offer.)
Binay was referring to “Oplan Exodus,” a high-level police operation that saw 392 of the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Special Action Force (SAF) enter Mamasapano town on January 25 to neutralize wanted terrorists and bombmakers Zulkifli bin Hir (alias “Marwan”) and Abdul Basit Usman.
Marwan was killed, along with at least 3 civilians, 18 Muslim rebels, and 44 SAF troopers in the police operation marred by a botched extrication plan.
After killing Marwan, police commandos encountered fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), its breakaway group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups. (READ: What SAF troopers saw in Mamasapano: 'Unfavorable terrain')
The PNP, through its Board of Inquiry, is set to wrap up its investigation by the week’s end.
Issue of leadership
The operation was kept a secret from PNP Office-in-Charge Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Roxas, and local military forces. In contrast, suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima was looped in the operation, attending briefings and receiving updates in the morning of January 25.
But in the interview, Binay questioned Roxas’ supposed knowledge of the intricacies of the operation. “Maraming mga expectations, may mga bahagi nga ewan-ewan. Paano ka maniniwala na hindi nalalaman 'yun?” said Binay. (There are a lot of expectations, parts that remain unclear. How could you believe [Roxas] did not know those things?)
During the Senate’s 3rd hearing on the Mamasapano clash, Senator Nancy Binay, the Vice President’s daughter, asked security officials in attendance who informed President Benigno Aquino III about the situation in Mamasapano that morning.
None of the officials present – including Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and top PNP and military officials – could answer Senator Binay’s question.
In the next hearing, it was revealed that it was Purisima who informed the President through text, at around 5:45 am, about the Mamasapano operation. Roxas then added he only knew of the operation much later in the day, past 8 am.
“Kung totoo man, 'di ba ang sama ng pamumuno mo kung iniikutan ka ng mga tao mo? Ang sama ho sa person niyan kung hindi pinagkakatiwalaan ng katrabaho mo,” said Binay of Roxas. (If it’s true, doesn’t it say something about your leadership when your subdordinates bypass you? It says something about a person when the people you work with don’t trust you.)
Relieved SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas had earlier explained the operation was kept a secret from the military for fear it would leak. Previous operations to get Marwan had failed.
The police general also said it was Purisima who “commanded” him to keep Espina and Roxas out of the loop and to only inform them “time on target,” or only after troopers had neutralized Marwan.
Purisima denied this was a command and insisted it was merely “advice” to maintain “operational safety.” The 4-star general resigned from the PNP’s top post a week after “Oplan Exodus.”
Aquino has been heavily criticized for his supposed involvement in the operation and his handling of the aftermath of “Oplan Exodus.” (READ: Will the President's crisis management style spell his downfall?)
Binay, who was in Pangasinan for the inauguration of the Binmaley Manpower Development Center, is thus far the only politician who has declared his intentions of running for president in 2016, and has the machinery to boot.
Roxas, who was supposed to run for president but slid down to make way for Aquino in 2010, has yet to announce his plans for 2016. Although Roxas is a member of the President’s party, Binay admitted in 2014 that he still hopes to get Aquino’s endorsement for 2016.
The Vice President tied the Mamasapano issue to the upcoming 2016 elections, saying “experience” and “competence” would take center stage during the presidential polls.
“Kung merong resulta nitong massacre na ito, 'yun hong tama lamang ang inaasam-asam ng ating mga kababayan na 'yung mga namumuno ng mga organisasyon at samahan ay dapat may karanasan, mga karanasang makapagbibigay ng magandang katapusan, karanasang napaginhawa ang kanilang mga tauhan, o ang kanilang mga kababayan, at merong kakayahan,” he said.
(If there’s anything that will come out of the massacre, it’s that Filipinos want leaders who have experience, the experience that will lead to good outcomes, the experience that has improved their people, lives or of their fellowmen. A leader who was competence.)
Binay had previously accused Roxas of being behind "Oplan Nognog," an alleged scheme to ruin the Vice President's chances of winning in 2016 through a Senate probe, cases before the Ombudsman, and a series of exposés.
Roxas has denied the allegations. – Rappler.com