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Purisima urged to explain his role in SAF operation in Maguindanao

Photo by Metro Manila Today

Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian urged suspended Philippine National Police or PNP Director-General Alan Purisima to come out from his “White House” residence.


He added that Purisima should explain to the Filipino his role in the Jan.-25 Mamasapano operation that resulted in the slaughter of 44 officers and men of the PNP-Special Action Force or PNP-SAF.


“General Purisima should be man enough to come out and tell everything he knew about the SAF operation since he was the one acting as conduit between SAF Director Napenas and Pres. Aquino,” said Gatchalian who had earlier confirmed from his PNP sources about the role of Purisima.



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Gatchalian, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said that Purisima cannot escape responsibility from the massacre of 44 SAF commandos because he was identified by relieved SAF commander Director Getuilo Napenas as the one calling the shots and that the SAF director was directly reporting to him.


“The least that the suspended PNP chief can do is to take the flak for the botched operation and in so doing, absolve his subordinate officer, General Getulio, and protect his commander-in-chief from being pilloried for his failure to ensure that safety of the SAF commandos in the Mamasapano operation,” Gatchalian added.


The solon maintained that the active involvement of Purisima in the SAF operation is one of the reasons why he is not agreeable to the PNP Board of Inquiry conducting the formal investigation of the SAF operation and the death of 44 commandos and wounding of 12 other SAF personnel.


While he does not question the integrity and professionalism of the composition of the PNP-BOI, Gatchalian said it would be difficult for the BOI to summon and investigate Purisima who still holds the rank of director-general, which is equivalent to a four-star general.


PNP-BOI is headed by PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director-General Leonardo Espina.



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Gatchalian pointed out that the PNP-BOI cannot even summon Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who is concurrent chairman of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission or PAOCC, which funded the top-secret SAF operation.


Being of cabinet rank, Ochoa can only be investigated by an independent commission similar to congressional inquiries.


“It is crucial for the fact-finding commission to be independent given the magnitude and gravity of the case at hand. It would be best if the PNP has no direct hand in this probe as to ensure that there will be no squelching of the truth and whitewash of the probe,” Gatchalian explained.


He said the independent fact-finding commission can be headed by a retired Supreme Court justice and its members coming from the ranks of retired Armed Forces and National Police officials who are known for their integrity, independence, and investigative skills.


“The independent body can be patterned after the Davide Commission which was created by then President Cory Aquino to conduct a fact-finding on the root causes of the series of failed coup attempts against the Aquino administration,” the solon said.



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Gatchalian, a majority member for the House committee on local government, said the fact-finding body will conduct a transparent and thorough probe to make accountable those who were involved in the January 25 SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.


The SAF operation in Maguindanao had resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos, including seven police officers who were graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy or PNPA.


The administration lawmaker said he cannot reconcile the fact that a major SAF operation mobilizing hundreds of policemen the size of an Army battalion did not ask any clearance from the Espina and DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, whose department has administrative and operational control on the PNP.


“And to think that these SAF personnel are entering known territories of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) without any coordination with the army units in the area really defies military logic,” Gatchalian said.


The fact-finding body that will investigate the Mamasapano massacre, he added, should be free of working ties with the government “so that they can come up with credible recommendations for both the government and the MILF.”



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The proposed commission of Gatchalian would also be expected to come up with expert and well-rounded recommendations that would address the lapses in the operation to avoid similar incidents from happening again.


“The peace process hangs in the balance. Decades of negotiations might only go to waste if conflict once again erupts between the government and the MILF. We’ll find the country back again to square one if we do not resolve this immediately through an independent, transparent probe,” Gatchalian concluded. (R. Burgos)