MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang questioned the findings of the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry (PNP BOI) into the Mamasapano operation and insisted on Saturday, March 14, that President Benigno Aquino III should not be held liable for any lapses.
In a statement issued Saturday night, March 14, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the BOI had contradicted itself in its findings, even as he hailed its exhaustive scope and independence.
Lacierda singled out the BOI’s findings that President Aquino violated the chain of command by dealing with the Special Action Force (SAF) head instead of with the acting head of the PNP, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, over the operation. In the Palace’s view, the PNP, being a civilian organization, does not have a chain of command. Thus, the President, as the chief executive, can deal with subordinates directly. This is the same position made by Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima in a statement released earlier on Saturday.
“The BOI itself recognized this in its report when it acknowledged that it was the President’s prerogative to issue direct orders to the Special Action Force (SAF) Head,” said Lacierda.
Lacierda also questioned the ‘lack of due process’ accorded to President Aquino in getting his side of the story.
“The BOI in its efforts could have asked the President to clarify matters. The President would have answered any questions they may have had. But no official request was made. Instead, it introduced innuendos and resorted to speculations to reach some of its conclusions,” the statement read.
Lacierda added that the BOI head, Police Director Benjamin Magalong, could’ve asked the President further questions during a meeting together with senior officials of the PNP. Magalong is also the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Nothing to chance
Malacañang reiterated that the President instructed the suspended Chief of the PNP, Alan Purisima, to inform the acting head of the PNP; following a briefing with the President.
Purisima did not inform Espina until the morning of the operation, while it was underway, and only after troopers killed international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan.
The BOI report, however, did not include the President’s instruction as part of its narration of facts. Purisima also declined to be interviewed and instead gave the BOI an affidavit.
In a separate statement, the President said SAF chief, Police Director Getulio Napeñas, tricked him by not following his direct orders to coordinate with the PNP hierarchy and the military for the operation. Napeñas claims he wanted to keep the operation a top secret, fearing leaks.
The controversial Oplan Exodus claimed the lives of 67 people, including 44 SAF troopers. - Rappler.com