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House probe uncovers more details on how Aquino knew raid updates

/ 12:44 PM April 08, 2015
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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

Military officials on Wednesday revealed more telling details of how President Benigno Aquino III came to know of events during the botched Mamasapano raid.

During the House of Representatives inquiry into the Jan. 25 operation that left 67 persons dead, Western Mindanao Command Lt. General Rustico Guerrero said he updated the President twice that day while Aquino was in Zamboanga City for a briefing on a bombing incident.

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Guerrero said the briefing with the President started 10:20 a.m. He said Aquino called him to a lounge and asked for updates about the operation taking place in Central Mindanao.

He said he informed the President of the encounter of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

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He told the President that earlier, at about 6 a.m., now-resigned police chief Alan Purisima called him and asked for reinforcements. Guerrero said that was the first time he found out about the operation.

He then called acting police chief Leonardo Espina asking for reinforcement.

“I directed (Espina) being his direct superior to provide necessary support to his SAF in his area of responsibility. Yun ang sinabi ko kay President,” Guerrero said.

The general continued, “After that, we went back to the conference room and waited for him to update (him) about the Zamboanga car bomb blast.”

At 5 p.m., Guerrero said, the President asked for more updates the President had already been informed by Purisima that the SAF had suffered heavy casualties.

Guerrero said he told the President that the SAF had already suffered casualties and recommended that reinforcements link up with the trapped SAF commandos. President then instructed him to ensure that there was no friendly fire.

He said he could only give limited information to the President. “We were blind. We had no exact details of the ongoing operation.”

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Guerrero said he was informed that the SAF already had 26 casualties as early as 3:40 p.m.

Asked by Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio why he didn’t inform the President then, Guerrero explained that at that time the President was busy doing the rounds in the hospital visiting victims of the bombing.

“I assumed that the text was already relayed by the Secretary of Interior,” Guerrero said, referring to Secretary Mar Roxas who was with Aquino.

Tinio said the President seemed to have waited until 5 p.m. or a little more than an hour after he came to know about the SAF heavy casualties.

“After 5 p.m. na humingi ng update kahit alam na niya na may heavy casualties,” Tinio said.

The House is conducting its investigation on the botched raid that succeeded in killing international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but ended in the deaths of 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and five civilians.

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, House, House probe, Leonardo Espina, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Marwan, MILF, PNP‎, Rustico Guerrero, SAF, saf44, Zamboanga bombing, Zulkifli bin Hir
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