BOI report indicts Aquino

THE board of inquiry the Philippine National Police created to look into the Mamasapano incident confirmed the fears of the public and indicted President Benigno Aquino III for approving the bungled covert operation and breaking the established chain of command.

Aside from Aquino, the BOI report, which was made public Friday, also said resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima and relieved Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas made key errors that ultimate resulted in the death of 67 people, including 44 police commandos, and critical injury to 18 others.

Report in. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II accepts the report on
the firefight in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25 that resulted
in the killing of 44 police commandos submitted by Police Director
Benjamin Magalong (L) and PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina.
Manny Palmero
The Department of Interior and Local Government, which has supervisory control over the PNP, released the BOI report to the public, a day after it was submitted by the eight-man panel, headed by Director Benjamin Magalong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“The President gave the go-signal and allowed the execution of Oplan Exodus after the concept of operations (CONOPS) was presented to him by Director of Special Action Force (SAF) Police Director Getulio Napeñas,” read one of the 22 conclusions in the BOI’s executive summary.

“The President allowed the participation of the suspended Chief, Philippine National Police (CPNP) Police Director General Alan Purisima in the planning and execution of the Oplan Exodus despite the suspension order of the Ombudsman,” another conclusion said.

“While the President has the prerogative to deal directly with any of his subordinates, the act of dealing with Napeñas instead of [PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo] Espina bypassed the established PNP Chain of Command,” the report added.

The BOI also criticized Purisima who, the report said, violated the preventive suspension order the Ombudsman issued last December, when he participated in the planning and execution of the operation, code-named “Oplan Exodus.”

“He also violated the Special Order No. 9851, dated December 16, 2014 issued by OIC-PNP Espina, directing him and other suspended PNP officers to ‘cease and desist from performing the duties and functions of their respective offices during the pendency of the case until its termination’.”

The BOI also criticized Purisima for saying he would coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding required tactical support, but failing to do so.

“The PNP Ethical Doctrine Manual cites, “Word of Honor – PNP members’ word is their bond. They stand by and commit to it.” The statement of Purisima may be construed as an assurance of providing the coordination instructed by the President,” the report said.

The BOI report also confirmed that Purisima misinformed Aquino about the actual situation when he sent text messages to the President claiming the SAF commandos were pulling out and were backed by mechanized and artillery support when there was really none.

The BOI did not spare Napeñas, whom the public feared was being turned into a scapegoat for Aquino and Purisima, and criticized him for several errors that resulted in the deadly operation.

“Despite his knowledge of the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman, Napeñas followed the instructions of suspended CPNP Purisima not to inform OIC-PNP and the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas about Oplan Exodus,” the panel said.

“Napeñas failed to effectively supervise, control and direct personnel, which resulted in heavy casualties of the SAF Commandos,” the BOI said, adding that command responsibility means that a commander is responsible for effectively supervising, controlling, and directing his personnel.

The BOI said Napeñas followed his own operational concepts although they were contrary to Aquino’s orders and violated established PNP concepts and protocols of the PNP in addition to disregarding the established peace process mechanisms with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The panel said the planning for Oplan Exodus was defective due to poor analysis of the area of operation, unrealistic assumptions, poor intelligence, absence of abort criteria, lack of flexibility, inappropriate application of TOT; and absence of coordination with the military.

“The lack of situational awareness, limited cover and concealment, ineffective communication, and sustained enemy fire prevented the 1st Special Action Battalion and 4SAB containment forces from reinforcing the beleaguered 55th Special Action Company troops,” the report said.

“There was a breakdown of command and control at all levels due to ineffective and unreliable communication among and between the operating units,” the BOI said, adding that radios malfunctioned and some ammunition of M203 grenade launchers were defective.

The BOI also found that the United States was indeed involved in the operation, but was limited only to intelligence sharing and medical evacuation. “Only SAF Commandos were involved in the actual combat operation of Oplan Exodus,” the board said.


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