BOI report highlights Aquino’s conflicting claims on Mamasapano debacle
MANILA, Philippines – The Board of Inquiry has underscored in its much-awaited report on the Mamasapano incident that President Benigno Aquino III gave conflicting statements on Director General Alan Purisima’s role in the “Operation Exodus.”
In the third chapter of the BOI’s “The Mamasapano Report” Discussion and Analysis, under “The President as the Commander in Chief” section, it said that the recent claims of Aquino contradicted with his statements in the January 28 press briefing in Malacañang on role of Purisima in the mission against international terrorists.
The BOI compiled the remarks Aquino made when he lambasted Police Director Getulio Napeñas last March 5 as well as his SMS exchanges with Purisima, the resigned Philippine National Police chief and a close friend of Aquino.
“At one point during the press briefing, the President stated that he was on top of the hunt for Marwan and company for several months. The President also denied the involvement of the suspended CPNP Purisima in Oplan Exodus. However, in the succeeding Senate Hearings, suspended CPNP Purisima admitted that he was accountable for Oplan Exodus,” it said.
In an another observation, the police probers led by Police Director Benjamin Magalong said Aquino “had knowledge of the details of Oplan Exodus” contrary to his initial claim denying his direct involvement in the operation.
“In the same press briefing, when the President was asked for a categorical answer if he gave the go signal for Oplan Exodus, the President did not directly address the question and replied that the question was rhetorical. He further said ‘tinutulungan ako ni General Purisima,’” it added.
But during Aquino’s meeting with evangelical church leaders on Monday, the President confirmed that he approved Oplan Exodus, the covert mission that claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force commandos.
To prove their point, the BOI cited the President’s harsh remark against Napeñas, quoting him as saying: “kung alam ko na ganito ang gagawin niya (Napeñas) from the start, ay hinindian ko ho itong misyon na to…” and “kung alam ko ho yung parte ng planong yon, hindi na natin inapprove.”
The BOI said Aquino’s remark was supported by text messages that the President sent to suspended Purisima while the encounter was ongoing.
Aquino’s text message to Purisima goes: “If I remember correctly, 160 SAF troopers are involved in this operation plus provisions for other PNP and AFP units to assist. The terrain is flat and clear as opposed to upland, forested or jungle terrain. Why could they not contain and/or overwhelm the 15-20 opposing force? Are they still in contact with the two targets? If not and the opposing force has escaped? Are we now back to square one?”
“Another SMS that the President sent to suspended CPNP Purisima on January 25, 2015 dated: Why was it left behind? The other two targets?”
“The SMS messages show that the President had knowledge of the details of Oplan Exodus,” it said.
The BOI said, from the standpoint of military operations, Aquino’s questions to Purisima “might be construed as tactical orders for the ground commander to follow, i.e. “Why was it left behind? The other two targets?”
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