Aquino confirms accepting Purisima’s resignation
MANILA, Philippines— President Benigno Aquino III on Friday night formally confirmed his acceptance of the resignation of Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima over the Mamasapano clash.
“Kaya nga po, siguro naman maiintindihan ninyo kung bakit masakit para sa akin na aalis siya sa serbisyo sa ilalim ng ganitong pagkakataton. Tinatanggap ko po effective immediately ang resignation ni General Purisima,” Aquino said in a nationwide televised address.
He said it was difficult to let go of Purisima because of their friendship.
He also lauded Purisima for his efforts in the operations. “Marami syang inambag sa mahabang proseso ng operasyon na plinano para dito. Hindi naman labag sa kaalaman ng publiko na mahaba ang aming pinagdaanan,” Aquino said.
He said it was Purisima who restored his confidence on security forces after coming up with a modified VIP protection course following an ambush against him during a coup attempt in 1987.
“Mula noon hanggang ngayon, marami kaming pinagdaanan, kasama ko sita sa pakikipagtunggali sa mga makakapangyarihang interes na maari kaming ipahamak. Noong mga panahong bahagi ako ng oposisyon, bagamat peligroso sa kanyang karera ang pagiging malapit sa akin, hindi po ako iniwan ni Alan,” he said.
Aquino said he conducted his own investigation but also expressed confidence with the board of inquiry.
“Bakit nangyaring walang koordinasyon? Bakit itinuloy ang misyon gayong napakalihis na nito sa oriinal na plano, at napakalaking peligro na ang kinaharap ng ating mag tropa? Iyan po, at marami pang iba, ang mga tanong na bumabagabag sa aking isip. Magkakaroon po ng pagkakataon ang dating SAF commander na ipaliwanag ang mga ito sa kanyang pagharap sa kinauukulan,” he said.
The President noted that there were at least three times that the operation could have been aborted. Aquino did not say the reason why Purisima had resigned and also did not confirm if it was Purisima who led the operations.
The resigned police chief is on a six-month suspension since December pending an investigation for corruption allegations.
Purisima reportedly headed “Oplan Wolverine” which killed 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.
The botched raid, which was the biggest single loss of life in the Special Action Forces’ history, killed target Zulkifli bin Bir, alias Marwan, a top international terrorist, but another suspect, Filipino bomb maker Basit Usman, managed to escape.
The police commandos entered a territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front without coordination, prompting the latter to fight back.
The government has an existing peace agreement with the MILF and is working on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Aquino also said the government was still on the hunt for Usman and that he expected cooperation from all fronts, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in achieving this goal.
He again expressed his condolences with the families of the slain troopers, saying there was nothing he could say nor do to ease their pain but they were not alone as the nation was behind them. “Hindi kayo nag-iisa,” Aquino said.
He also said those who were trying to drive a wedge between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP were not going to succeed.
He then urged the nation to help each other and stay united as it was the least the nation could do to repay the sacrifices of the fallen policemen.
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, meanwhile, reportedly demanded for the resignation of Purisima following the covert operation, but the Palace had denied such incident.