Magalong: President exercised his prerogative on Mamasapano operation
MANILA, Philippines—The Board of Inquiry (BOI) chairman maintained on Wednesday that President Benigno Aquino III did not violate the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) chain of command although he “bypassed” the organizational structure of the 150,000-strong force.
“The established PNP chain of command was bypassed but we did not mention any liability of the President. We did not say (in the report) that he violated the chain of command. He just exercised his prerogative,” Magalong told reporters in an interview in Camp Crame.
Magalong’s clarification came after Aquino summoned on Tuesday the BOI members for a lunch meeting in Malacañang.
In the 128-page report, the BOI stated in its findings: The Chain of Command in the PNP was violated. The President, the suspended CPNP Purisima and the former Director SAF (Getulio) Napeñas kept the information to themselves and deliberately failed to inform the OIC PNP and the SILG.”
This had been interpreted by many as Aquino violating the PNP chain of command when he dealt directly with Police Director Napeñas and Director General Alan Purisima, who was already suspended as PNP chief over corruption allegations.
Magalong also surmised that Aquino was hurt by the BOI report.
“Syempre nasaktan siya sa report. Makikita mo naman yon. Mararamdaman ko naman. Maski sino naman. Kung ako Presidente, mabasa ko ‘yon, hindi ba ako masasaktan? (Of course he was hurt by the report. You can see that clearly. I felt it. Anyone would [get hurt]. If I were the President, if I read that, wouldn’t I be hurt?)” Magalong said.
He revealed that Aquino called him for a lunch meeting on Tuesday “to clarify issues.”
Also present in the meeting were BOI member Chief Superintendent John Sosito, PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
“But his demeanor that time was very calm, very cordial. The discussion was free-flowing. No holds barred,” he added.
Magalong said Aquino even showed to him his cellphone and opened his SMS (short messaging service) exchanges with Purisima, a known close friend of the President.
But the BOI chairman, who admitted he was nervous as he talked with Aquino, assured that there was no pressure to change the report.
During the meeting, Magalong said he was “very straightforward” in asking questions to the President.
“‘Yung ibang mga tanong ko very direct kaya sinabihan ko siya na, ‘Sir, sana ‘wag kayong magalit’ (My other questions were very direct that’s why I told him, ‘Sir, hope you won’t get angry’),” he said.
But when asked if Aquino raised his voice at some point during the meeting, he said: “No, it was just like talking to my brother. And I respect the President for that.”
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