ALTHOUGH Malacañan Palace refrained from commenting on the Philippine National Police board of inquiry report on the Mamasapano incident, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas cleared President Benigno Aquino III of any liability in the operation that led to the death of 44 police commandos.
“There is no liability,” Roxas said at the lobby of the PNP’s Camp Crame headquarters on Friday morning as he released to the public the BOI report that was submitted on Thursday.
“He gave the order to not-yet-suspended [PNP chief Alan] Purisima,” Roxas said, apparently referring to the time when Aquino approved the inclusion of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir in the target list of authorities, months before Purisima was suspended on December 4, 2014.
Roxas did not mention that Aquino, Purisima and relieved Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas all admitted that they had several briefings about the operation in Malacañang prior to January 25 when the operation was launched in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“After having read the formal report, though not all the annexes, my understanding is that no other than suspended PNP [Director] General Alan Purisima is principally responsible for the death of the SAF 44,” Roxas said.
Roxas also assailed Purisima for not following the order of Aquino on two occasions to coordinate the mission with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for tactical support.
“The President, as commander-in-chief, gave guidance to coordinate with the AFP because of its capability to reinforce. Purisima was instructed to coordinate but failed,” Roxas said.
He also said that Napenas was being instructed by Purisima about the mission “after Purisima was suspended”
“He has no authority to participate in the operations and he failed to pass [information] to the chain of command, to [acting PNP chief Leonardo] Espina. Worst, he ordered Napenas to conceal the matter from Espina and me,” Roxas said.
“Purisima also ignored Aquino’s order for him to coordinate with the AFP,” Roxas added.
But Purisima, through his lawyer Kristoffer James Purisima, said Roxas was only catering to public opinion and was prejudging the findings of the BOI report.
“It appears that the Secretary is prejudging the case and playing to certain sectors of the public. I would caution against entertaining conclusions at this stage,” lawyer Purisima said.
“The mandate of the BOI was fact-finding. That is different from finding fault or liability. There is a separate process for that. We shall respond to allegations at the proper time and in the proper forum,” Purisima’s lawyer added.
At the Palace, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte refrained from making substantive comments on the BOI report until after the Palace receives a copy of the report.
“We would not be able to make any sufficient comment on any matter raised in the BOI report without the President having been able to go through the report himself,” Valte said.
Asked on why Roxas’ statement was different from that of the President, Valte said Roxas’s statement was based on the BOI report.
“I cannot comment one way or the other in the sense that Secretary Roxas has had the benefit of actually going through the BOI report. And, very clearly, he stated the reasons why the President is not liable — does not have any liability in that entire affair,” Valte said.
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