Purisima, Napeñas face suit over deaths of 44 SAF men
SAN PEDRO CITY, Philippines — A self-styled human rights lawyer has filed at the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint seeking to hold liable resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima and relieved Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas for the deaths of the 44 SAF commandos in a mission to get an international terrorist on Jan. 25.
The complaint, filed last Friday by lawyer Fernando Perito in the midst of ongoing investigations by a PNP board of inquiry and several other state agencies into the carnage, said Purisima and Napeñas should be held criminally and administratively accountable for the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, to get Zulkifli “Marwan” bin Hir and local bomber Basit Usman.
Perito said Purisima should be investigated not only for usurpation of official functions for allegedly planning and executing the SAF operation without the knowledge of Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the PNP officer in charge, but should be made accountable for 44 counts of homicide.
The complaint said “had Purisima not intervened, the 44 fallen young men would still be alive.”
At that time, Purisima was under preventive suspension on corruption charges.
The complaint said that Napeñas should be made accountable for disrespecting the chain of command when he obeyed Purisima’s “advise” not to inform Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of the operation.
If found liable, Purisima and Napeñas should be charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, said Perito, a little known lawyer who last year filed a child abuse case against Freddie Aguilar in 2013 for his relationship with a minor whom he later married in Islamic rites.
The complaint excluded President Aquino, who, not being a lawyer or a soldier, would not know the “intricacies and complexities” of carrying out the tragic mission and “defying” a peace agreement with the Moro rebels. ( A sitting president cannot be sued.)
In an interview over dzBB on Sunday, Sen. Sonny Angara said Purisima appeared to have been in charge of the group’s operation to arrest Marwan and that Napenas was not solely responsible for the botched mission.
“Even if chief Purisima does not admit that he was in charge, it appears that he was in the charge, because I don’t think Napenas alone can do something like that where 400 police personnel are affected,” Angara said.
Purisima was calling the shots, he said. “Even if it’s not said, we can read between the lines,” he added.
Angara said Purisima’s “advice” to his subordinate would carry some weight and would not be considered a simple suggestion.
Napeñas earlier said he and Purisima briefed President Aquino on Jan. 9 on the plan to get Marwan. After the briefing, the SAF officer said Purisima told him not to inform Roxas and Espina about the plan yet.