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Aquino allows Senate to have copy of Mamasapano texts

/ 01:52 PM March 20, 2015

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has allowed the Senate to have a copy of his text messages to former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima, Malacañang said on Friday.

“The President—through Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr.—gave his consent to a request from the Senate concerning the release of transcriptions of SMS (short message service) conversations between him and General [Alan] Purisima in the early hours of Jan. 25,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement.

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It was during the early hours of Jan. 25 that the controversial Mamasapano operation happened. While the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) succeeded in killing international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, the ensuing encounter with armed groups left 44 policemen, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians dead.

Aquino has been receiving flak over the botched operation, especially for allegedly allowing Purisima, who was suspended at the time on graft charges, to direct the mission.

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Valte said the President’s decision was “in keeping with upholding the dignity of the office and maintaining the principle of separation of powers and respect for a co-equal branch of government.”

She said Malacañang would let the lawmakers decide how to use the said information, “bearing in mind that the inquiry should remain focused on its primary mission: To uncover the truth.”

“In this manner, the process will not be abused by those who might be inclined to take advantage of the occasion to advance personal motives,” she said.

In an undated letter addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon, Ochoa responded to the subpoena for the transcription of SMS conversations registered under Purisima.

Ochoa pointed out that the transcriptions may include conversations between Purisima, who resigned as PNP chief but not as a member of the police force, and the President, which “would be covered specifically by the executive privilege and generally by the privacy of communications.”

However, he said Aquino gave his consent to release the information “in the interest of transparency.” Purisima also submitted his own transcript of the conversation to the Senate committee investigating the matter.

Ochoa clarified that while Aquino allowed Smart to release the transcription, it would not include portions that “have no relation to the subject of the inquiry or matters involving national security.”

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Below is a copy of Ochoa’s letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon:

Aquino Ochoa letter to Senate

Below is the copy of the text exchange between Purisima and Aquino the resigned police chief read out during the Senate’s probe into the Mamasapano incident.

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