Palace says it respects differences on how PNoy was received
MANILA (UPDATED) - A relative of one of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in the Mamasapano operation felt insulted by President Aquino's answers and overall demeanor when he talked to the families last Wednesday.
Jennifer (not her real name), told ABS-CBN News in an exclusive interview that Aquino did not seem serious about his answers to the questions about the Mamasapano operation that targeted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
Relatives of the SAF commandos went to Camp Crame on Wednesday to submit the necessary documents for their benefits.
Each family is set to receive P250,000 from Malacanang, special financial assistance from the Philippine National Police, a P1.1 million pension and other benefits.
During the gathering, President Aquino and other government officials discussed with the families the benefits they will receive, including financial support from private companies.
Jennifer said they were offended about the President's replies.
"Yung isa sa kasamahan namin nagtanong about kung bakit hindi nagpadala ng airstrike, sabi ni PNoy: 'Naglalaro ka ba ng computer?' Syempre na-offend kami kasi inaasahan namin na sagot niya is either opinion niya or basta yung totoo," she said.
She said, at certain times, the President was laughing even as the relatives of the Fallen 44 asked for direct answers on who ordered the operation and why so many died.
"Sa maraming questions ng mga kasamahan namin, sasabihin niya: 'Tignan mo kung namumula ang mukha ko?' Ano yun? Natatawa siya. Nakakabastos kasi yung sagot na gusto namin, hindi niya masabi. Tumatawa siya habang sinasagot ang mga tanong namin," she said.
She said several of the families asked Aquino who should be blamed for the Mamasapano operation.
"Diretsong sinabi ni PNoy na 'Sino pa eh di si [relieved SAF director Getulio] Napenas kasi siya yung nagplano dito.' Sabi tuloy ng isang kasamahan namin: 'Kung si Napenas ang may kasalanan, puede bang bitayin nalang natin?'"
Jennifer said it is impossible for the President not to know about the operation in Mamasapano. The Senate inquiry earlier showed the President was briefed about the operation by both suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima and Napenas last January 9 in Malacanang.
It was during this meeting that Purisima told Napenas not to inform Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Leonardo Espina about the operation until it was already launched.
Quoting sources, a Philippine Star report also said Purisima was updating the President about the Mamasapano operation as early as 5 a.m. on January 25, the day it was launched.
'WASTE OF TIME'
For Jennifer, the President was washing his hands of any responsibility in the event and passing the blame to his subordinates.
"Useless pala siyang kausap...nagwaste tayo ng time," she said.
"Napakadisgusting yung way niya. Although kung sa kanya eh natural lang na galaw niya yun, sa amin kasi is hindi. Makikita mo talaga sa mukha na hindi siya interesado sa problema mo."
"Just looking at the face, malalaman mo kung interesado siya na makinig sa problema mo or kung gusto mong sabihin. Sa nakikita parang wala lang sa kanya, parang simpleng bagay lang ito sa kanya."
The President stayed with the families until 11 p.m. last Wednesday but not without assuring them of the government's support.
For Jennifer, what she wants is a face-to-face meeting with Aquino, Napenas, Purisima and other top PNP officials where all of the families of the slain commandos can speak freely.
"Gusto namin sila makaharap with the 44 families. Baka sakali makita kami at marinig nila ang mga hinaing namin eh makonsensya sila at masabi nila yung totoo," she said.
She said it would also be best if the President faces the Senate inquiry on the Mamasapano incident.
"Gusto namin siya sumalang sa Senate hearing. Kaya nga nagrequest kami sa ibang matataas na opisyal natin sa Malacanang na tulungan kami na sumali sa senate hearing para at least personal naming na maririnig ang mga higher official natin."
Malacañang, meanwhile, said it respects the sentiments from some families of the fallen Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who reportedly expressed dissatisfaction over the President's conduct during his dialogue with them Wednesday night.
"Owing to the fact that their loss is very, very fresh and that they lost their loved ones in such a manner, we would understand… [that] they look at that opportunity to be able to ask the President questions differently. There are also families who have chosen not to speak of their private conversation but also did say they have no ill feelings towards the President. So at this point, we respect the differentiation of how he was received," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.