De Lima defends Aquino anew, says he is ‘over and beyond’ any chain of command
Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima again cleared President Benigno Aquino III of liability for the botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which killed at least 67 persons, including 44 elite cops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).
Gabriela party-list Representative Emerciana De Jesus asked De Lima if Aquino could be held criminally liable for the operation, citing the findings of the Board of Inquiry and the pronouncement of former President Fidel V. Ramos that the President violated the chain of command.
“What can you say about claims that President Aquino broke chain of command?” De Jesus said.
De Lima reiterated her previous statements that Aquino could not be subjected to the chain of command doctrine. She also said that the concept was non-existent in a civilian agency such as the PNP.
“A President, as chief executive and commander-in-chief, is over and beyond any chain of command concept,” De Lima said during the continuation of the inquiry of the House of Representatives on the Mamasapano debacle on Wednesday.
“Any perceived accountability, liability of the President re chain of command concept cannot lie,” she added.
De Lima also said that Aquino already claimed responsibility for the bungled operation, as he said during his previous national speeches.
The Justice secretary also shot down notions that the US could be held liable due to its involvement in the operation.
She said that in the accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US had been cooperating with the Philippine government through information sharing and medical assistance.
De Jesus said she raised involvement of the US in Operation Exodus as the Philippines might be dragged in a “proxy war” by the US.
Aquino has drawn flak for skirting responsibility for the Mamasapano clash while heaping all the blame on sacked-SAF commander Director Getulio Napeñas.
The President has not apologized for the incident and instead has asked for the public’s understanding.