Cheat sheet: The truths and lies of Mamasapano

Bea Cupin

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Cheat sheet: The truths and lies of Mamasapano
The BOI singles out President Aquino, resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, and sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas for the lapses they committed in planning the operation in Mamasapano
Barangay Tukanalipao, where 67 Filipinos – 5 civilians, 18 Muslim rebels and 44 elite cops – died as a result of 'Oplan Exodus.' Rappler file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Who could be held liable for the Mamasapano tragedy on January 25 that cost the lives of 44 Special Action Force commandos, 18 Moro rebels and 5 civilians?

In its report, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) of the Philippine National Police identified at least 3 top officials who violated rules in the planning of “Oplan Exodus,” a secret operation against two high-value targets: Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan; and Abdul Basit Usman. Marwan was killed in the Mamasapano operation, while Usman managed to escape.

Below are the highlights of the 130-page BOI report that was made public on Friday, March 13:

(Click on the photos for the full story)

President Benigno Aquino III during his first public address on the Mamasapano clash. File photo by Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau

1. Aquino violated the chain of command in the Philippine National Police

The BOI said President Benigno Aquino III gave “the go-signal and allowed the execution of “Oplan Exodus” after the concept of operations was presented to him by Director of Special Action Force (SAF) Police Director Getulio Napeñas.”

Aquino also: “Allowed the participation of the suspended Chief Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima in the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus despite the suspension order of the Ombudsman,” and “…bypassed the established PNP Chain of Command.”

Read the full story here

PNP Chief Alan Purisima (L) chats with President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. File photo by Robert Viñas / Malacañang Photo Bureau

2. Resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima acted without authority in planning “Oplan Exodus”

Call it advice, a command, or his work as a “consultant,” but Aquino’s friend Purisima had no business in the planning and execution of “Oplan Exodus,” a January 25 police operation that took the lives of at least 67, including 44 elite cops.

The Ombudsman issued a preventive suspension order on Purisima early December 2014 over graft charges. The BOI report noted that the “powers and authorities of PDG Purisima ceased to exist on the day of his suspension.”

 Read the full story here.  

Sacked PNP SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas during a Senate hearing on the Mamasapano encounter. File photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

3.  “Oplan Exodus” defective; Napeñas didn’t listen to other commanders

“Napeñas said they ‘own the night,’ but he probably missed the point that the enemy ‘owns the day.'” Almost mocking the sacked SAF commander, the BOI cited lapses committed by Napeñas in the planning of “Oplan Exodus.” (READ: Napeñas assured SAF troops of artillery, had no ‘abort’ option)

The BOI said: “The mission planning appears to have been done by a group of officers and not by a planning team, as the inputs were heavily influenced by instructions from Napeñas. The element of healthy discussions was not achieved and the free flow of ideas was curtailed.”

Read the full story here

Banners in Mamasapano town call for peace. Rappler file photo

4. Aquino failed to give Napeñas ‘strategic guidance’ on peace process

Aquino did not raise any concern about the possible impact of “Oplan Exodus” on the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Napeñas stated that President Aquino did not raise any particular concern on how Oplan Exodus may potentially put the peace agreement with the MILF at risk,” said the report. 

“As Chief Executive of the Philippines, the President could have given strategic guidance to Napeñas on the implications of conducting a law enforcement operation within MILF-controlled communities.”

Read the full story here

Six American nationals were at the tactical command post on January 25; the same people assisted in the medical operations following 'Oplan Exodus.' File photo by Mark Navales/AFP

5. Americans provided ‘real-time’ information to SAF

 “Six American nationals” provided “real-time information” during the Mamasapano operation. 

“The US counterparts provided real-time information on the actual movements of friendly and enemy forces in the area of operations. The US personnel at the tactical command post were able to do this by providing the special technical equipment and aircraft, which they themselves operated,” read the report.

Read the full story here

Families and comrades during the arrival honors for the 44 slain SAF troopers. Rappler file photo
5. Purisima, Napeñas gave wrong info on Mamasapano – BOI

Purisima, a “experienced Intelligence Officer” and Napeñas, a “seasoned combat officer” should have known better than to relay inaccurate and misleading information to key personalities on January 25. 

The resigned PNP chief, the BOI report said, forwarded to Napeñas unverified information from an MILF contact. Napeñas, meanwhile, failed to express urgency when he was texting PNP Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director Leonardo Espina. 

The BOI also criticized the two police generals’ decision to communicate via text message instead of through phone calls because text messages “do not connote urgency to respond or react” and “had the risk of leading to misunderstanding and confusion.”

Read the full story here

Read the BOI report in full here: 


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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.