Probe Purisima, US role in SAF mission, solons urge
MANILA, Philippines–Lawmakers on Friday sought answers to a number of mysteries shrouding the bloody encounter in Maguindanao that left 44 police commandos dead, including the apparent role of the United States, and that of suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima.
Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said Congress should launch a full investigation into reports linking US operatives on the botched operation in Mamasapano town.
The Special Action Force (SAF) contingent had run into forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) while pursuing two international terrorists, including the Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, or “Marwan,” who was reportedly killed by the government troops.
Colmenares and Zarate, in a statement, said President Benigno Aquino III owed it to the public to admit responsibility for the incident and to disclose the extent of the participation of the Americans, and of Purisima.
They cited newspaper reports that said agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ranking Filipino police officials had planned the secret operation to neutralize Marwan, a target with a $6 million bounty on his head, and Basit Usman, the BIFF commander.
Based on the reports, it was supposedly the FBI agents who shared an intelligence report on the exact whereabouts of Marwan and Usman.
The source said the Americans were certain about their intelligence data because it was provided by a mole from the MILF. “They were paid cash in exchange for the information,” the source was quoted as saying.
“This is what is saddening here–that it was the US that planned and put our SAF into harm’s way,” Colmenares said.
“This is one of our fears when the Philippines entered the Visiting Forces Agreements (VFA) and now the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) we are dragged into their fights and battle plans under the heading ‘Target of US enemies,’” he said.
“Filipinos are the ones dying for the US to get what they want. Worse because we are now seen as part of US military operations against its enemies, we also become a target of attacks by the enemies of the US. This should really be investigated and adds to the numerous reasons why these treaties should be junked,” he added.
Zarate said Congress must conduct a thorough investigation, since it appeared that there was breakdown in the established mechanisms agreed upon by the government peace panel and the MILF.
On the other hand, Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian urged Purisima, the suspended director general of the PNP “to come out from his ‘White House’ residence and explain to the Filipino people his role in the January 25 Mamasapano operation.”
He said Purisima “cannot escape responsibility” as he was identified by relieved SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas as the one calling the shots and to whom the SAF director was directly reporting.
“General Purisima should be man enough to come out and tell everything he knew about the SAF operation since he was the one acting as conduit between SAF Director Napenas and President Aquino,” said Gatchalian.
“The least that the suspended PNP chief can do is to take the flak for the botched operation and in so doing, absolve his subordinate officer, General Getulio, and protect his commander-in-chief from being pilloried for his failure to ensure that safety of the SAF commandos in the Mamasapano operation,” he said.
Gatchalian called for an independent commission similar to congressional inquiries to shed light into what really happened.
“It is crucial for the fact-finding commission to be independent given the magnitude and gravity of the case at hand. It would be best if the PNP has no direct hand in this probe as to ensure that there will be no squelching of the truth and whitewash of the probe,” Gatchalian said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.