'But Moro rebels, armed groups murdered SAF commandos'
MANILA - A joint Senate committee report on the Mamasapano operation says President Aquino is "ultimately responsible" for the bloody incident, but it was armed Moro rebels and other armed groups who "murdered and robbed the Philippine National Police Special Action Force Commandos."
In a press briefing, Sen. Grace Poe said the January 25 mission in Mamasapano was not simply a "misencounter" as described by both government and MILF officials, but a massacre.
She said resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima committed usurpation of authority when he continued to exercise his functions as PNP chief despite his suspension by the Ombudsman for graft.
She said Purisima could face an administrative complaint for "grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the service." A petition to cite him for contempt may also be filed before the Ombudsman, she said.
"As to the President, he is ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano mission. Siya na po mismo nagsabi noon, bilang Pangulo at commander in chief, pasan ko ang responsibilidad ng resulta, sa anumang tagumpay, pasakit o trahedya na ating matamasa sa paghahanagand ng pangmatagalang seguridad at kapayapaan," she said.
"The President assented to PDG [PNP Director General] Purisima’s unlawful exercise of official functions, and continued to communicate with Purisima in regard the Oplan Exodus,” the executive summary read.
Poe said the president relied on and directly communicated with the suspended PNP chief during the day of the mission.
The Senate investigation revealed there are indications that Oplan: Exodus, which targeted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was not 100 percent planned and implemented by Philippine security forces. The Senate investigation showed at least six Americans were present at the Army Brigade headquarters on the day of the mission.
The Senate investigation also revealed that US personnel gave training to Philippine security forces and monitored the mission.
The senator said it is imperative that the President show leadership and accept responsibility for all decisions he has made.
"The President and other ranking officials could have done more under the circumstances to prevent or minimize the number of deaths that jolted the nation. Maaaring mayroon pa sana silang ginawa," Poe said.
"Had the President and key security officials like Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Volt Gazmin, PNP OIC chief Leonardo Espina and Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang discussed the incident and shared information clearly and openly in the early stages of the tragic day, coordination between the Army and the PNP might have been hasted and fewer lives could have been lost," she said.
She said President Aquino could have displayed stronger leadership in the rescue of the SAF commandos had he been given accurate information.
Click here for the executive summary of the joint committee report.