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Was Aquino given a false report on Mamasapano clash?

/ 05:40 PM February 23, 2015

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President Benigno Aquino III. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE/INQUIRER

President Benigno Aquino III. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines — Could it be that President Aquino was given a false report on what was happening on the ground during the Mamasapano incident?

Senator Grace Poe asked the police and military officials whether they were “remiss” by not informing the President of the entire picture of the Mamasapano clash.

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“Hindi ba bungi ang report ninyo (Could it be that your report was incomplete)?”, Poe asked during the resumption of Senate hearing on the bloody incident on Monday.

At 8:17 a.m. on January 25, then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima sent a text message to Aquino saying that the beleaguered Special Action Forces were already “supported” by artillery, tanks and troops.

The military’s version, however, said that it was only at 8:20a.m. when the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade was deployed from Shariff Aguak to Brgy. Tukanalipao in Mamasapano.

But the tanks did not make it to the conflict zone because of the marshy area and lack of grid coordinates.

The police operation to get two known terrorists—Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman– were kept secret from the military and was only informed time on target, or as it was already happening.

Purisima said that based on his understanding of Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero’s text message a few minutes before, the artillery support was already provided at that time.

Guerrero, however, made it clear that even if the assets were “made available,” it would be the tactical commander’s call on what to do.

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“I confirmed I texted him that, to quote: Meron ng coordination sa ground, tank and artillery support are made available, it was at 8:03 a.m. My intent telling him was these are the available sources on the ground. Ito yung naka lay down sa Maguindanao na meron. We have mechanized, infantry, artillery available to support their forces. D ko sinasabing pumuputok ang artillery, call ito ng ground commander,” Guerrero said.

He added that if he had been informed earlier, he could have deployed air assets a day before the operation but there was no coordination on his level.

The generals did not inform the President that tanks could not enter the conflict area.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang, and Guerrero were with the President at that time in Zamboanga City to check the car bomb explosion which had several casualties.

Purisima said he no longer gave an update to the President because of the “presumption” he (Aquino) would be given a briefing by the generals because they were together.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV observed that Aquino did not see the entire picture because commanders themselves did not have enough details at that time.

“Right now a lot of malicious reports are coming out. They are projecting that the President knew of these situation of the 55th company as early as 5:30 a.m. and he didn’t do anything about it. Based on the information this morning that picture is not true because the President didn’t get the entire picture for the simple reason even the commanders themselves did not have the true picture and only General (relieved SAF head Getulio) Napeñas and some tactical commanders are fully aware of the situation on the ground,” he said.

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, Mamasapano incident, News, president Aquino iii, Senate probe, text messages
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