Aquino: No ‘command responsibility’ in Mamasapano raid
Former President Benigno Aquino III pinned the blame entirely on sacked Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas and said he had no command responsibility for the botched operation, according to his counter-affidavit submitted to the Ombudsman in connection with a reckless imprudence charge filed against him.
Mr. Aquino filed his counter-affidavit to the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide filed against him by families of elite SAF cops killed in the anti-terror operation “Oplan Exodus” that was botched due to poor planning and coordination.
READ: More SAF relatives file raps vs Aquino over Mamasapano | Citizen Noy faces homicide raps for Mamasapano carnage
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier castigated Mr. Aquino for “feeding the soldiers to the lion’s den” and keeping secret from the public that the Mamasapano raid was a top CIA operation.
Mr. Aquino broke his silence in a statement and said his only fault was to trust Napeñas to handle the operation.
In his counter affidavit, Mr. Aquino said there was no element of command responsibility in the carnage and that he had no direct participation in the planning, approval and execution of Oplan Exodus.
“The complaints miserably failed to show or even remotely establish how the doctrine of command responsibility may be applicable here,” Mr. Aquino said.
He said the operation to serve the arrest warrants against terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman “did not need any direct approval from the President of the Philippines,” and thus his direct approval of the operation “was not necessary at all, nor was it sought.”
He added that he only knew after the operation that he had been fed with “false inaccurate and misleading” information by Napeñas.
Mr. Aquino said he could not be held liable for reckless imprudence, especially because he was misled by Napeñas into thinking that the operation was foolproof and that the military had been coordinated with and mobilized to back up the beleaguered elite cops.
The former said it was Napeñas who did not follow his orders to coordinate with the military and carried out a time-on-target operation, wherein the police informed the military of the operation only after the elite cops were in the target destination, resulting in a delay in coordination with the military that caused heavy casualties.
“Respondent Napeñas never informed me that he did not coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). At this point, he could have appealed to me as the Chief Executive that he was not getting the necessary support; in which case, I could have immediately ordered and directed the conduct of reinforcement measures,” Mr. Aquino said.
He reiterated that there was no urgency in the text messages he received that only gave him the impression that the operation had ended or was coming to an end.
“I can only surmise that he realized the magnitude of his gross and willful insubordination and that the very contingency that I cautioned and warned him about was actually happening. Therefore, in as much as I was not given the real and complete picture of the real situation, how could I have been expected to determine the best course of action and direct the conduct of reinforcements and/or rescue operations, when I was provided insufficient and wrong information?” he added.
Mr. Aquino said he could not be faulted for allowing his friend and dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to be present in the planning of the operation despite his suspension then for graft.
He said Purisima’s presence was needed as he held crucial information on the top-secret anti-terrorism raid.
“As the Chief Executive, I can directly order any person–any subordinate to be exact–to do what must be done. In the case of respondent Purisima, he was a resource person providing vital information,” Mr. Aquino said.
Mr. Aquino said there were several factors that contributed to the disaster, such as deficient planning, defective execution of the operation, and lack of coordination with the AFP.
“Based on the foregoing… the proximate cause of the failure of ‘Oplan Exodus’ and the unnecessary loss of lives of dedicated young police officers was not my purported involvement and/or participation in ‘Oplan Exodus,’–but rather, the poor planning, defective execution and lack of coordination with the AFP,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said his role was only limited to asking “common sense questions and clarificatory remarks,” while the decision-making process was “all left to the sole discretion of the ground commanders.”
He expressed hope the SAF families find comfort in knowing that the cops’ deaths were not in vain, and warned them that there were individuals taking advantage of their plight “to reopen wounds for their own personal motives.”
Mr. Aquino also noted that he had been cleared of liability by the Ombudsman investigators.
Purisima and Napeñas have been charged with usurpation of powers and graft for bypassing the police chain of command in the botched operation. CDG/rga
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