SUSPENDED Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima tendered his resignation and President Benigno Simeon Aquino III accepted “with much equivocation,” a Palace source said on Thursday.
News of Purisima’s resignation broke early Thursday evening, but Palace spokesman Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. could not confirm the report because he had no information about the resignation which Aquino supposedly announced in a Cabinet meeting.
Purisima himself could not be reached for verification, but his lawyer Kristoffer James Purisima posted on Twitter: “As far as I know, Police Director General Alan La Madrid Purisima has not tendered any resignation.”
Even acting Philippine National Police chief Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said “I have no confirmation on that” although the report quickly went viral on the Internet with several government officials expressing relief that Purisima chose to go.
However, a Palace source said Aquino did announce Purisima’s resignation at a Palace meeting with Cabinet secretaries who said the acceptance of Purisima’s resignation was an attempt to “mollify” Roxas who was supposedly set to resign.
“The President learned about Mar’s plan to resign should he not sack Purisima and Ochoa,” the source said. “It left the President no choice, but to ask Purisima to go.”
“The President did not want to fire Purisima so he asked him to resign instead,” the source added.
The source said Roxas’ advisers, including former defense secretary and well-known lawyer Avelino Cruz, asked him to resign after Aquino did not act on Roxas’ demand that he fire Purisima, who was allegedly in command of the botched Mamasapano debacle although he was suspended.
In radio interviews earlier Thursday, Roxas denied reports that he stormed into Malacañang to demand that Aquino fire Purisima in an emergency meeting sought by Roxas himself on February 3, but was turned down.
“The incident where I supposedly barged into a meeting of President Aquino and [Finance] Secretary Cesar Purisima at the Palace did not happen,” Roxas said.
“That is absolutely a lie and shows lack of professionalism. I appeal to the Manila Standard to get your facts straight and not rely on the imagination of your sources or spin doctors,” Roxas said of the report which appeared in the Standard.
Presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda also issued a statement denying the Standard report that Roxas barged into a meeting between Aquino and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima last Tuesday.
“This article is premised on something that never took place,” Lacierda said. “During a time of mourning for our country, we call upon all sectors to practice prudence and refrain from adding to the grief of our countrymen.”
Lacierda said Aquino’s meeting with Finance Secretary Purisima scheduled on Tuesday afternoon did not even push through.
But even without official confirmation from the Palace, Senate President Franklin Drilon, co-president of Aquino’s Liberal Party, said in a radio interview he welcomed the resignation of Purisima which, he said, will help lift the burden off Aquino, who has been heavily criticized for Mamasapano debacle.
“It is just right that we help our country get over speculations. We keep on hearing stories. It does not do good for us. In my view, the resignation of General Purisima will help much,” Drilon said in Filipino.
Drilon also urged Aquino to appoint a permanent PNP chief to “establish a clear chain of command.”
“If General Purisima is really a friend of the President, maybe it’s right that he doesn’t add ato the problems of the President. He should have resigned. And it’s a good thing that he has finally realized that that’s the right thing to do,” Drilon added.
But the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay said Purisima’s resignation does not mean he is exculpated of liability for the Mamasapano debacle and he must still face investigation.
“Resignation should not be used as a subterfuge for the truth in the bloody encounter in Mamasapano. Purisima must still face the investigation in order to shed light on what was actually his participation in the operation that befell 44 members of SAF,” said Binay’s political spokesman lawyer Rico Quicho.
Already, the Binay camp noted that there is widespread fear of a whitewash by investigators and even the Catholic Church has asked for the creation of a “credible” truth commission that will look into the incident and determine culpability.
Relieved PNP Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas, whom Aquino blamed for the incident, earlier confirmed that he reported to and received orders from Purisima with explicit orders not to inform acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina until the last moment.
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