Palace: No such stand down order
Malacañang on Wednesday denied charges of the three-member independent bloc in the House of Representatives that President Aquino had ordered the military to stand down during the Philippine National Police’s Mamasapano operation last year that resulted in the loss of 44 police commandos.
Sought for comment, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said “in all the previous investigations, it had been clearly established that there was no such stand down order.”
In a report, the group—composed of Representatives Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list and Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list—alleged that the President’s failure to order artillery support for the beleaguered policemen was tantamount to a stand-down order.
Malacañang, on the other hand, has blamed the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) leadership for the high death toll in the operation. “The high number of casualties incurred by the PNP-SAF could have been averted if former SAF Director (Getulio) Napeñas had coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a timely manner,” Coloma told the Inquirer.
Coloma, also head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, earlier insisted that the President only gave “guidance” in “Oplan Exodus,” the code name of the SAF mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, which ended with the death of 44 SAF operatives in Mamasapano.
Contrary to claims of opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Mr. Aquino was not directly involved in the operation, Coloma said.
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