PNP Mamasapano probe delayed again

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police's (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI), formed to investigate the January 25 carnage in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, asked for another extension of its deadline to finish its report. 

In a text message to reporters on Monday, March 9, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said “there will be no submission of BOI report today. The chairman requested for an extension of submission of findings from OIC PNP Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.”

The BOI is headed by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Police Director Benjamin Magalong, who was supposed to submit their findings to Espina last Friday, March 6. 

In a press conference Monday, Magalong said they don't want to rush their findings. "We will not sacrifice our credibility and our integrity," he said. "The entire PNP is at stake here.... [we] can't afford to leave a bad legacy."

The BOI’s Operational Audit Team (OAT) already submitted their report to the BOI on Friday. “There are still a lot of issues to analyze,” said a member of the BOI in a text message to Rappler on Sunday, March 8.  

Cerbo did not say when the BOI would be submitting their findings. 

The BOI is one of several agencies investigating the January 25 Special Action Force (SAF) operation against terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan) and Abdul Basit Usman, which cost the lives of 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro rebels and at least 3 civilians.

The incident threatened to ruin the peace process between the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and caused the worst political crisis for President Benigno Aquino III, who was privy to the SAF operation.

The Senate has also done its own investigation on the incident and is expected to come up with its own report and recommendations.  

Focus of probe

Among the issues raised in the aftermath of the Mamasapano operation include the SAF’s decision to coordinate with the military “time on target,” or only after the SAF troopers had killed Marwan. Army forces in Mamasapano were not able to send artillery support until late afternoon January 25. The encounter between the SAF and rebel forces began early in the morning the same day. 

Dismissed SAF chief Police Director Getulio Nepañas also kept Espina out of the loop during the attack, and instead coordinated with resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who was then serving a suspension order over graft raps. 

Aquino himself has been criticized for his supposed involvement in the planning of the attack. The President and the Palace, however, have maintained that Aquino instructed Napeñas to coordinate with the military, an order he apparently ignored. – Rappler.com