House minority report on Mamasapano finds Aquino liable for SAF men massacre
THE three-member independent bloc in the House of Representatives found President Benigno Aquino III liable for issuing a stand down order in the Mamasapano operation.
This was the finding of the independent minority report on the Jan. 25, 2015 botched anti-terror raid that resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police officers after a firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed groups.
In a press conference, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez led the disclosure of the report, with the House majority yet to release its report on the congressional investigation last year.
Romualdez said because Aquino did not issue any order to help the beleaguered elite police officers when they were being pinned down by Moro rebels in the cornfields of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Aquino effectively handed a stand-down order.
The bloc based its report on the findings of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry as well as the Senate report that found Aquino ultimately responsible for violating the police chain of command.
According to the report, Aquino’s actions showed that he issued a stand-down order in the deployment of artillery support to the SAF commandos.
“Although unspoken, it is clear from the actuations of the President, the members of the Cabinet security cluster, the senior AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP officials including officers on the ground and the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) and the government peace panel, among others, that there was a ‘stand-down’ order at the height of the firefight and eventually an elaborate effort to cover up the monumental blunders committed,” the report said.
The report cited the testimony of Major Gen. Edmund Pangilinan, who supposedly ordered to withhold the artillery fire because of the peace process with the MILF, even though 1st Mechanized Brigade Commanding Officer Colonel Gener Del Rosario had earlier sought for artillery support.
“(The) move… was totally out of line and inexplicable at that juncture. That was indeed unforgivable and even more so given the belated finding that a ‘stand-down’ order was actually handed down presumably through the OPAPP…” the report said.
The report said Aquino was in Zamboanga city at the time of the Mamasapano incident, but he did not call a meeting with his top commanders and security officials to help the elite cops.
Aquino also texted then Western Mindanao Command General Rustico Guerrero to send help to the elite cops only at 4 p.m. or 12 hours after.
The bloc in the report also accused then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles and peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of a “cover-up” on the Mamasapano to shield Aquino from any liability.
The report said Roxas and Deles echoed the claim of the MILF that the incident was merely a “misencounter” between government and MILF troops due to lack of coordination.
“Instead of exerting extra efforts to clear the air and pinpoint the flaws in the manner by which Oplan Exodus was conducted, Secretaries Roxas and Deles and peace panel chair Ferrer engaged in an elaborate cover-up meant to shield the President and the administration and, sadly, even the MILF from assuming responsibility for the Mamasapano tragedy,” the report said.
The bloc also said the MILF should share the responsibility over the botched operation.
“Taken in totality, the onus of responsibility for the Mamasapano massacre falls squarely in the hands of President Aquino. We concur with the findings of both the Senate … and the PNP Board of Inquiry… that the President was and is ‘ultimately responsible for the outcome of the mission,” the report said.
Aquino was accused of “compartmentalizing” the operations when he coordinated with sacked SAF Director General Getulio Napeñas and authorized a personal friend, then suspended police chief Alan Purisima, to oversee the operation.
The bloc also said Purisima and Napeñas committed criminal offenses for their blunders in the execution of the antiterror raid called Oplan Exodus, which took down international terrorist Marwan.
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