Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian expressed approval on the Senate’s decision to re-open the Mamasapano probe even as he urged senators to also focus on the sources of funding for “Oplan Exodus” as this will reveal the identities of those who were actually calling the shots for top-secret covert operation.
“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 that resulted in the slaughter of 44 commandos in a single day” said Gatchalian, who represents Valenzuela City’s 1st Congressional District.
Gatchalian noted that the Senate committee has yet to determine the total expenses incurred by Oplan Exodus and who provided the SAF units with the funds and logistics to carry out the January 25 law enforcement operation.
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“To date, Malacanang has not spoken on the issue of funding for the SAF operation. Even former SAF chief Director Getulio Napenas has failed to categorically state the exact amount of money that funded his top-secret operation,” said Gatchalian.
It can be recalled that when asked by senators where the funds for “Oplan Exodus” were sourced, relieved SAF Director Napenas maintained that his comptroller released P100,000 for the neutralization of high-value targets Marwan and Usman.
Persistent reports had said President Aquino ordered the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) to provide funding support to the SAF operation international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman who are considered as high-value targets. Both Marwan and Usman are listed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted terrorists with corresponding rewards of $5 million and $2 million.
This was not the first time that the PAOCC was dragged in a controversial police operation since police officers involved in the 2013 “Atimonan massacre” in Quezon Province had also claimed that their operation against the slain suspected hired guns were cleared with and funded by PAOCC.
Surprisingly, the issue of funding from the PAOCC in the Mamasapano operation has not cropped up in the Senate inquiry despite persistent newspaper reports saying that the President ordered PAOCC to release funds to the SAF operation. PAOCC has an annual budget of P500 million.
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“If the new Senate probe can secure evidence that PAOCC provided funding for the SAF operation, this will prove that President Aquino had a direct hand in Oplan Exodus,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian said the Senate committee should also include in its 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 had told the Inquirer newspaper that the Americans started “Oplan Exodus” aimed at neutralizing Marwan and Usman. Under “Oplan Exodus,” the Americans tapped the SAF’s 84th Seaborne Company based in Calarian and trained its members at La Vista del Mar Resort. The 84th Seaborne unit was led by its newly appointed commanding officer, Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi, who was among those killed in Mamasapano.
Gatchalian said the US government, through its Embassy, is not expected to confirm nor deny the involvement of its intelligence operator named by the Inquirer report as Allan Konz.
He, however, 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.
“If the report about US involvement is true, then it follows that they were the ones who provided the actionable intelligence and resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima could be their main contact in the PNP by virtue of his being the highest ranking officer despite his suspension,” Gatchalian said. (R. Burgos)