Purisima forced to resign?
Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines–Did he or didn’t he? That was the big news until Malacañang denied that suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima despite widespread and persistent news had resigned.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told a news briefing he had no information on Purisima’s supposed resignation.
One Palace insider texted the Inquirer: P-Noy addressing the nation tomorrow afternoon. Best to await that.
“It’s confirmed that there’s no resignation letter,” one Palace source told the Inquirer.
Sources said that during Thursday’s meeting in Malacañang to discuss the “fallout” of the Fallen 44, one official told the President that the people—his “bosses”—wanted him to fire Purisima, whose role in the Jan. 25 massacre of the commandos in Maguindanao province is under investigation by a PNP board of inquiry.
They said that Aquino had made no categorical response to this supposed clamor for the sacking of Purisima, a close friend, who has been under preventive suspension for six months while undergoing an investigation for alleged corruption.
“The President’s message for (Friday) was still a draft. In fact, making a national address was still a plan. There’s nothing concrete. The President can always change his mind. He will address the Mamasapano incident and whatever the fate of Purisima would be,” the source said.
But it appeared that two other officials who attended the meeting wanted to force the President to make Purisima resign and thus spread the word that the suspended PNP chief had resigned.
“They appeared to want to preempt the President’s decision by leaking it to the media,” said the source.
Another source said that accepting Purisima’s resignation would cause more trouble for the beleaguered President.
The source said under Section 12 of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, one cannot accept the resignation of a government employee facing charges in court. This is because the government employee should face the charges against him or her, the source said.
“If he wants, the President could fire Purisima. Firing him and accepting his resignation are two different things,” the source said.
The board of inquiry has interviewed 307 of the 420 witnesses to the massacre and is waiting for Purisima to testify or submit a statement to complete its investigation into the bloody mission.
Director Benjamin Magalong, the board chair, said he was in constant communication with Purisima, who according to the sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, was giving him instructions up to the time the mission was underway in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province.
“We are waiting for him, he promised to give his written statement any time soon,” Magalong told reporters after a PNP command conference on Thursday.
Napeñas claimed he reported to Purisima and President Aquino about the top secret operation to arrest two high-profile terrorists—Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino deputy Basit Usman.
The operation was planned even before Purisima’s six-month suspension last December on corruption charges.
Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the PNP officer in charge, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas only learned of the operation after it was already underway.
Magalong said Purisima was “very cooperative” and that the PNP chief was probably doing a last-minute review of his statement.
AFP-PNP ties strong
Among those interviewed by the panel were commandos who joined the operation, civilians and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The AFP recently came under fire for allegedly not coming to the aid of the embattled SAF troopers. The AFP said it was likewise not informed of the Mamasapano operation.
Magalong also said the board was waiting for the report of the AFP’s own inquiry.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame on Thursday, Espina sought to downplay media reports about a purported strained relationship between the police and the military as a result of finger-pointing on the alleged lack of coordination that resulted in the heavy SAF losses.
“We are all OK in the PNP, our relationship with the AFP remains to be very, very strong, and both organizations will continue to serve and protect the people as we are mandated and expected to do,” he said.
He said he had been told by the board that it would likewise need his statement on the operation.
“I want this to be a very truthful inquiry. Let us wait for the report of the board of inquiry and not speculate. The board was created for an operational audit, what was done right and what went wrong, so we will know the lapses,” Espina said.
“There were lapses, definitely. There were 44 policemen dead. We will meet again on the results of the probe so we will not make the same mistake again,” he said.
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