Roxas defends Aquino during House probe on Mamasapano
Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Tuesday defended President Benigno Aquino III from insinuations that his party-mate in Liberal Party gave a tacit approval on the Mamasapano operation that got botched and resulted in the deaths of 67 persons.
During the House of Representatives probe on the Jan. 25 operational debacle in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, Roxas took notice of sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas’ statement that the President in a meeting approved of the time on target concept on the operation to hunt international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
The time on target concept, or coordinating with the military for help only after the operation was launched, was seen as a primary factor to the delayed deployment of reinforcement as 44 SAF commandos were slaughtered in a 12-hour gunbattle with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed groups.
Napeñas said he took Aquino’s lack of reaction to his time on target concept in the meeting with him as a tacit approval.
Roxas said what was only clear was that the President instructed Napeñas to coordinate with the military ahead of the operation to ensure speedy deployment of reinforcement. Napeñas did not follow the President’s orders.
“Nag-interpret siya sa kawalan ng salita ng Pangulo … Maaring sariling interpretasyon ito ni Napeñas … The fact is, the last overt words of the President is to coordinate with the Armed Forces. ’Yan ang klaro,” Roxas said.
Roxas said it was not his intention to intimidate Napeñas, seated just three chairs away from him in the hearing.
“As regards the imputation that I’m trying to intimidate Napeñas or any other persons, hindi po ’yun ang sinasabi ko, sinasabi ko lang katotohanan,” Roxas said.
President Aquino drew flak for refusing to accept responsibility in the debacle while putting the blame on Napeñas for the miscoordinated operation that resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians in a 12-hour gunbattle.
The police board of inquiry on its report found that Aquino bypassed the police chain of command when he authorized Napeñas and resigned police chief Alan Purisima on the operation despite the latter’s suspension over corruption, while keeping acting police chief Leonardo Espina in the dark.
Meanwhile, the Senate panel led by Sen. Grace Poe found Aquino “ultimately responsible” because of his giving assent to authorize suspended Purisima, his longtime friend.
Aquino had also said he was given wrong information at the height of the operation by Purisima himself.
The House clamped down on emotional lawmakers to maintain decorum on the second day of investigation after its first hearing was criticized for being frenzied and circus-like.
Solons were outraged over the involvement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the attack against SAF as the lower chamber mulled the passage of the Bangsamoro basic bill, which sought to create another Bangsamoro entity in the peace deal with MILF.
Today’s hearing was also attended by some family members of the slain 44 SAF commandos who were in the mission to hunt down Marwan. RC