Aquino: I did not directly take part in Oplan Exodus
MANILA — Former President Benigno Aquino III has formally denied having “directly” participated in the failed Mamasapano operation two years ago.
Answering the complaint filed by the bereaved relatives of slain Special Action Force commandos before the Office of the Ombudsman, Aquino said he should not be held liable for the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide.
In his 27-page counter-affidavit, Aquino claimed that he was merely briefed about the so-called Oplan Exodus, and its planning and execution were the sole discretion of the police commanders.
Passing the buck to now-retired SAF head Getulio Napeñas, Aquino said he gave specific and direct orders for him to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a directive that apparently went unheeded.
Aquino added that his involvement by way of receiving updates was “not the proximate cause” of the SAF troopers’ deaths in the botched operations.
Citing the findings of various investigative bodies, he said the operation failed because of “poor planning, defective execution, and lack of coordination with the AFP.”
“Simply put, these activities and decision-making process were all left to the sole discretion of the ground commanders,” he said.
“Whatever participation I may have had in the incident does not amount prima facie to a criminal offense,” he added. “Accordingly, I respectfully request that the present complaints be dismissed outright for utter lack of merit.”
Aquino also justified the presence of then-suspended Philippine National Police director-general Alan Purisima, a close friend, during the briefings, citing the vital information that he had on the operation.
He argued that “it would be the height of negligence if I deliberately omitted and disregarded any information coming from respondent Purisima which was material and vital to ‘Oplan Exodus.'”
Aquino also said that he would “like to somehow believe” that his government alleviated the needs and concerns of the survivors and relatives of the slain troopers through the grant of benefits, and livelihood and housing assistance.
He lashed out at “individuals who choose to take advantage of the pain and grief of the families.”
He said this was “indeed regrettable and unfortunate” because “this serves no purpose other than to reopen wounds for their own personal motives.” SFM/rga