Purisima and the Mamasapano clash
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate probe on the Mamasapano clash looks into different angles of the tragic story on its first day of investigation. What is the connection between former PNP chief Alan Purisima and the operation that took the lives of 44 SAF troopers?
Will the Senate be successful in finding the truth?
Bea Cupin reports.
Did then-suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima play a key role in a top secret operation agains Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Marwan?
This is the question senators ask during the senate’s first hearing on one of the PNP’s bloodiest days.
Oplan Exodus is the January 25 operation that neutralized Marwan but left 44 elite cops dead in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
The police officials try to explain... it's complicated... but senators would have none of it.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: General Purisima, ano pong nasa utak ninyo noong inorderan nyo si General Napeñas na wag nang sabihin sa dalawa? So bale inorderan mo siya not to follow the chain of command because the immediate superior of General Napeñas is General Espina. Ano pong nasa utak ninyo? Anong motivation nyo para sabihin yan?
(General Purisima, what were you thinking when you ordered General Napeñas not to disclose [the operations to General Espina and Secretary Roxas? In effect, you ordered him not to follow the chain of command because General Espina is General Napeñas’ immediate superior. What were you thinking? What motivated you to say it?)
Relieved Special Action Force Commander Police General Getulio Napeñas says up until January 2015 – or a month after he was suspended by the Ombudsman – Purisima joined him to brief President benigno Aquino III on the operation.
GETULIO NAPEÑAS, PNP-SAF: It was then when Police Director General Purisima, when he came out, he stated, "Wag mo munang sabihan yung dalawa, saka na pag nandun na. Ako na ang bahala kay General Catapang.
(It was then when Police Director General Purisima, when he came out, he stated, "Don’t tell the two first. Tell them when you’re already there. I’ll take care of General Catapang.")
GETULIO NAPEÑAS, PNP-SAF: It’s me who decided to go on that window January 23-26 based on the text message I sent to General Purisima.
But Purisima, a close friend of the president’s, insists he wasn’t breaking the chain of command.
ALAN PURISIMA, FORMER PNP CHIEF: During my preventive suspension I did not give any orders to any PNP official or personnel regarding Oplan Exodus. But if ever I uttered words to that effect it was in the form of an advice, not as a directive or order.
The Mamasapano encounter’s effects go beyond that of the sleepy town. It has since exposed cracks in the PNP’s chain of command. Why was Napeñas reporting to both Purisima and PNP OIC Police General Leonardo Espina?
It’s also exposing long-running tensions between police and military forces, especially in conflict-torn areas such as Maguindanao.
GETULIO NAPEÑAS, PNP-SAF: Of course, many of you will ask, what could be the reason why the operations will be compromised. The main reason is that the information and preparations are leaked whenever major operations against high-value targets are conducted as the subjects, both Marwan and Usman are being coddled by the MILF whose members have lots of contacts with the AFP and PNP. Thus, the high level of operation security and secrecy are utmost of importance.
Without prior coordination, military forces are unable to send reinforcement to the beleaguered troopers.
PIO CATAPANG, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF: Your honor ang order po sa kanila is to extricate the beleaguered forces but not engage the MILF. In as much as we have a peace process we do not want to endanger these things because pag sinugod natin yung MILF they might think that we are back to war. So ayaw po natin mangyari yun, para pong sunog yan kung hindi po natin na manage baka hanggang sa Lanao, buong Central Mindanao nagkaroon na po tayo ng schemes with MILF.
(Your honor, the order is to extricate the beleaguered forces but not engage the MILF. In as much as we have a peace process we do not want to endanger these things because if we attack the MILF, they might think that we are back to war. We don’t want that to happen, like fire that spreads, if we don’t manage it properly it might escalate and reach Lanao, and the entire Central Mindanao we have schemes with MILF.)
Espina, who took over the PNP after Purisima’s suspension, can offer no explanation as to why Purisima ordered Napeñas to only tell him on the day of the operation itself. Neither can he say why Napeñas chose to follow Purisima’s words.
GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Pwedeng grave misconduct and unprofessionalism [ang] ikaso sa inyo kasi suspendido ang kausap ninyo. Paalala lang.
(You can be charged with insubordination and grave misconduct because you were following orders from a suspended official. Just a reminder.)
If anything, Espina is sure of one thing: there was a “breakdown” in the chain of command leading up to one of the bloodiest days in the PNP’s history.
Bea Cupin, Rappler Manila. – Rappler.com