Napeñas ‘emotional, depressed’ after Aquino jab, says lawyer
MANILA, Philippines—After the country’s highest official publicly lambasted the former leader of the embattled Special Action Force (SAF) police unit, Police Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. had since been “emotional and depressed,” the police official’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
“He was emotional. All along he thought everything was OK (until the President spoke against him),” lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
“Last Monday, his relatives started calling one by one from the province. Sinabi niya sa mga kamaganak niya na ‘wag niyo akong tawag tawagan, lalo akong nade-depress,‘” he said.
It was on Monday when President Benigno Aquino III took a swipe at Napeñas for failing to call off the mission as the number of his killed men rose amid the heavy gun battle with Moro armed groups.
Refusing to take responsibility over the Mamasapano debacle that killed 67 persons and threatened to hamper peace process with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Aquino also slammed Napeñas for “fooling” him and feeding him wrong information.
“But he’s happy to know that he has the support of the public in this fight. ‘Yan ang nakakapagpalakas sa kanya,” he said.
Not a scapegoat
But amid calls for Napeñas to come clean and tell the real story behind the alleged Mamasapano coverup, the lawyer said his client was not being used as a scapegoat for the President’s fault.
“In fact, that is our predicament since the Senate hearing. Sen. Grace Poe insinuates that Napeñas is being the administration’s scapegoat and that he shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth,” Aguirre said.
“Ang totoo, hanggang doon lang lahat. He even confirmed that the President told him that he should coordinate with the military on Jan. 9 in Bahay Pangarap.”
Aguirre pointed out that the beleaguered police official is not denying his responsibility for the deadly incident.
“Being the commander, he took responsibility for the incident like a true gentleman,” said Aguirre.
Aquino, Purisima should own up
He said Napeñas expects the President and Director General Alan Purisima to own up to their mistakes.
Purisima allegedly supervised the “Operation Exodus” targeting international bomb-making terrorists despite his preventive suspension over his corruption allegations.
A close friend of the President, Aquino directly coordinated with Purisima, with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina out of the loop, since the planning until the execution of the operation.
“Who’s at fault here? Aquino inserted a suspended general to head a very sensitive mission like this. He gave power to Purisima despite his suspension,” Aguirre said.
In earlier congressional hearings, Napeñas revealed that Purisima had instructed him to inform Roxas and Espina about the operation once the troopers arrive in the target area.
As for the military, Purisima told Napeñas, “ako na ang bahala kay General Catapang (Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.)”
Purisima confirmed Napeñas’ claim but said it was “an advice not an order.”
“Purisima gave him this instruction after a closed-door meeting with the President. Wouldn’t he assume that the order was from the President?” Aguirre explained.
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