The Senate committee investigating the Special Action Force or SAF operation in Mamasapano should focus on the source of funding for “Oplan Exodus”, Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian urged.
He said that identifying the source of funding will reveal the identities of those who called the shots for the top-secret SAF operation in Mamasapano.
“The Senate committee should follow the money trail in ‘Oplan Exodus’ as this will lead to the person or persons who authorized this botched SAF operation in Mamasapano in Maguindanao,” Gatchalian said.
The administration lawmaker said the details on the total amount of expenses incurred for “Oplan Exodus” and the provider of funds and logistics to carry out the January 25 law enforcement operation have yet to be clarified by concerned parties.
“It would do well for Malacañang to speak out on the issue of funding, the source of which will reveal the names of those on top of the SAF operation that led to the death of 44 commandos in a single day,” Gatchalian said.
President Aquino ordered the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to provide funding support to the SAF operation against international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman as mentioned in earlier reports.
Both Marwan and Usman are in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s list of most wanted terrorists with corresponding rewards of $5 million and $2 million.
This is not the first time that the PAOCC was dragged in a controversial police operation.
Police officers involved in the 2013 “Atimonan massacre” in the Quezon Province also claimed that their operation against the suspected hired guns were cleared with and funded by PAOCC. The leader of the operating team, Supt. Hansel Marantan, is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame for multiple murder.
Surprisingly, the issue of funding from the PAOCC for the Mamasapano operation has not been publicly discussed in the Senate inquiry despite persistent newspaper reports saying that the President ordered Ochoa to release funds to the SAF operation. PAOCC has an annual budget of P500 million.
Ochoa is concurrently chairman of the Anti-Terrorism Council.
“If there is evidence that PAOCC provided funding for the SAF operation, this will show that President Aquino had a direct hand in Oplan Exodus, belying contrary statements coming for Palace spokespersons,” Gatchalian pointed out.
When asked in the Senate about the source of funds for “Oplan Exodus”, relieved SAF Director Getulio Napeñas said his comptroller released a measly P100,000 for the neutralization of high value targets, Marwan and Usman.
Gatchalian said the Senate should include in their probe newspaper reports that US intelligence operatives provided the “actionable intelligence” on Marwan as well as the logistics needed by the two SAF companies used in the operation.
An unidentified SAF official told the Inquirer newspaper that the US started “Oplan Exodus” aimed at neutralizing Marwan and Usman. Under “Oplan Exodus”, Americans tapped the SAF’s 84th Seaborne Company based in Calarian and trained its members at the La Vista del Mar Resort.
The 84th Seaborne unit was led by its newly appointed commanding officer, Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi, who was killed in Mamasapano.
The solon said the US government, through its embassy, is not expected to confirm the involvement of its intelligence operator named by the Inquirer report as Allan Konz.
However, he said that the presence of Konz in the SAF operation as well as the helicopter provided by the US in evacuating the dead and wounded in Mamasapano can easily be confirmed by SAF personnel who were there.
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“If the report about US involvement is true, then it follows that they provided the actionable intelligence and resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima could be their main contact in the PNP, being the highest ranking officer despite his suspension,” Gatchalian said.
The solon has been pushing for the creation of the “Mamasapano Truth Commission” under House Bill 5404 as this will ensure an independent and objective investigation of the Jan. 25 SAF operation.
Under Gatchalian’s proposed measure, even President Aquino will be summoned to explain what he knew about the covert operation, including the sources of funding and logistics. (R. Burgos)