Napeñas on raps filed by Ombudsman: ‘I was just doing my job’
Sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas deplored the Ombudsman’s order to file charges against him over the botched antiterror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last year, adding that he felt bad he lost the benefits he gained throughout his 37-year stint as police officer.
In a statement sent to reporters, Napeñas said he could not be liable for usurpation of powers and authority because he only fulfilled his duties as SAF director and not usurped the authority of the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.
He also said he only acted upon the orders of President Benigno Aquino III.
“Sobra sakit sa akin yan, una paano ako magkaroon ng usurpation of authority that I only acted as Director SAF at hindi ko naman ginampanan trabaho ng chief PNP or OIC PNP, at isa pa Presidente ang nag-utos ng trabaho,” Napeñas said.
(It’s very painful for me. First, how can I be liable for usurpation of authority when I only acted as SAF director and not as PNP chief or PNP OIC? Besides, it was the President who ordered the mission.)
“Inutusan at nag-trabaho lang ako at ngayon tanggal lahat ng pinaghirapan ko for 37 years (I was only doing my job, and now, I stand to lose what I worked for for 37 years),” he added.
He said the Ombudsman did not listen to his defense that he only followed orders from the President and dismissed PNP chief Alan Purisima, who was the principal accused in the graft and usurpation charge for the botched “Oplan Exodus” operation in Mamasapano.
“Ang mahirap at hindi maayos ay ayaw pakinggan ng Ombudsman mga statement at reasons ko. Sumunod lang ako sa utos ng Pangulo at kay Purisima na s’yang designated ng Pangulo na mangasiwa sa operation tapos kaso harap ko ngayon then dismissed pa ko serbisyo,” Napeñas said.
(I cannot take the Ombudsman’s refusal to hear out my statements and reasons. I was just following the President’s orders and it was Purisima whom the President designated to lead the operation, and now I am facing a case and have been dismissed from service.)
He maintained that the operation succeeded in killing international terrorist Marwan and that it should be the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that should be charged for the slaughter of 44 SAF elite cops in the botched operation.
“Terorista ang pinatay namin at ang mga MILF na pumatay mga tao namin ay hanggang ngayon wala pang kaso (We killed a terrorist, and yet, the MILF who killed our men have not been charged yet),” Napeñas said.
Morales ordered the filing of information before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Usurpation of Authority or Official Function, denying the two former police officers’ motions for reconsideration.
They were also found guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Since Purisima was dismissed from the service in June 2015 due to an earlier graft indictment, and Napeñas retired in July 2015, the penalty is a fine equivalent to their salary for one year.
They were meted out the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility.
Morales said the police officers’ motions for reconsideration “deserve scant consideration.”
The Ombudsman said that Napeñas was liable for following Purisima, acting as a cohort and violating the chain of command instead of reporting to PNP officer in charge Leonardo Espina.
Morales said Napeñas’ plea of leniency on account of his 37 years in service “cannot be countenanced by this Office considering that the penalty of dismissal from the service is an indivisible penalty.”
The Ombudsman found probable cause against the two even though it has absolved from accountability outgoing President Aquino, who allowed his friend Purisima to participate in the planning of the operation.
Mr. Aquino put the blame on Napeñas for disobeying his orders to coordinate with the military and police about the operation. The former SAF chief, however, said he was misled by Purisima who disobeyed his orders to coordinate with Espina.
Napeñas said he did not coordinate with the military for fear it had been compromised.
The Ombudsman said Napeñas’ adherence with the time on target concept–or the concept of coordinating with the military only after the elite cops were in the target destination–resulted in heavy casualties because of the delay in sending help at the time the elite cops were cornered and slaughtered.
The TOT also caused Napeñas to bypass the police chain of command and commit usurpation of powers when he coordinated with a suspended police chief instead.
On Jan. 25, 2015, 44 SAF men were slaughtered in a botched antiterror operation to take down Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, dubbed by the Ombudsman as the “the biggest loss of government elite force in history.” IDL/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.