Honasan: Define chain of command to prevent another ‘Mamasapano’
Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan on Tuesday said he wanted to fine tune the definition of the chain of command which was violated during the Mamasapano operation, and not pinpoint names on who should be accountable for the botched anti-terror raid that claimed the lives of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) cops.
During the Pandesal forum at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe, the vice presidential candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance said this is what differentiates him from the intentions of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is seeking to reopen the investigation to determine the role of President Benigno Aquino III in the operation based on new evidence Enrile received.
“Ang pagkakaiba namin ni Senator Enrile, ang focus ko is the institutional damage. Para sa akin mas masakit itong karanasan dahil alam kong pag nagbebreak down ang chain of command, may namamatay, may nasasaktan,” Honasan said.
“Magkaiba kami ng pananaw (ni Senator Enrile). Siya gusto niya i-pinpoint yung responsbility, pero ang concern ko rito is the institution na tinatawag nating chain of command,” Honasan said.
(What differentiates me from Senator Enrile is that my focus is on the institutional damage. For me, it is a more painful experience because I know that the chain of comman is breaking down, people died, got hurt.
We differ in view. He wants to pinpoint the responsibility, but my concern here is the institution we call chain of command.)
Honasan made a disclaimer that he signed the Senate report on the Mamasapano probe finding Aquino ultimately responsible for the operation.
Asked about the new evidence that Enrile supposedly has in reopening the probe, Honasan said he would rather not preempt the expose of Enrile.
Enrile and Honasan were military brothers in their shared role in escalating the 1986 Edsa revolt that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Honasan was a leader of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, which broke away from the martial rule that time. Honasan then served as the chief security of Enrile, then Marcos’ defense minister who led the military in turning its back against Marcos.
Enrile wanted to reopen the investigation, claiming he received new information from survivors of the Mamasapano operation he met at the Philippine National Police General Hospital where he was detained for a year as he stood trial for plunder.
Enrile pinned Aquino in the operation, calling for a renewed probe just a few months after he was granted bail from the plunder case filed by the current administration against him over his alleged involvement in the P10-billion Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scam.
Honasan said he hoped the reopened investigation would be used in aid of legislation to fine tune the law that institutionalizes the chain of command.
The police Board of Inquiry found that Aquino broke the chain of command when he authorized his personal friend, sacked police chief Alan Purisima to oversee the operation, thus bypassing then officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
Aquino, meanwhile, had pinned the blame on sacked SAF commander Getulio Napenas for disobeying the former’s orders to inform Espina and then Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Instead of pointing fighters, Honasan wanted to fine tune the institutionalization of the chain of command to prevent botched operations in the future.
“Babalik at babalik tayo sa concept ng chain of command. Huwag na sana maulit. (We will always go back to the concept of chain of command. Hopefully, this will not happen again.). Justice na yun. (That is justice.) Sabi ni Ulysses, war is old men talking and young men dying. Naniniwala ba tayo dun? (Ulysses said, war is old men talking and young men dying. Do we believe in that?) [We should] make sure this does not happen again for the sake of the SAF families, the military, the sake of the nation,” Honasan said.
While the Palace said Aquino was in Zamboanga to check on a bombing that killed two people, speculations were rife that Aquino was in Zamboanga to receive the turn-over of the international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, who was the high-value target killed at the expense of 44 SAF cops, and that Aquino was in fact monitoring the operation.
For the renewed probe, Enrile said he has proof Aquino was directly involved in the operation, was monitoring it in Zamboanga city, and did not do anything while the SAF men were being slaughtered.
Aquino had also been suspected of issuing a stand down order, which resulted in the delay in the deployment of reinforcements, at the time the SAF men were being fired at by fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and some Moro rebels.
Aquino supposedly issued the order in a bid to save the peace negotiations with the MILF and in turn the proposed implementing legislation the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL), which has languished in Congress since the main benefactor the MILF was involved in the firefight. CDG