MANILA – Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on Wednesday insisted that he did not break the chain of command when he gave advice and information to President Benigno Aquino III and Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas on the Mamasapano mission.
In his speech before a joint committee hearing on the Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives, Purisima argued that prior to his preventive suspension in December 2014, he was already able to delegate the mission to Napeñas.
The Mamasapano raid was launched to arrest Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Filipino cohort Abdul Basit Usman.
It turned deadly after the SAF forces encountered and were outnumbered by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters.
''Contrary to prevailing accounts and perceptions, the PNP command line was not broken at any time during the mission. The force commander continued to exercise the delegated power of the chief PNP. This was never affected by my preventive suspension,'' he said.
The MILF, which is on a ceasefire with government due to the ongoing peace talks, has blamed lack of coordination for the bloodbath.
The PNP-SAF, meanwhile, has been blamed for not having prior coordination with the military which would have provided the police commandos with sufficient and immediate reinforcements.
''When the continuing law enforcement operations of PNP-SAF to implement the warrant of arrest against Marwan and Usman were approved, the chief PNP delegated to the force commander, in this case the director of SAF, the necessary control and supervision over the mission,'' Purisima said.
''In military terms, the director of PNP-SAF is handling the operation at the top of the chain of command for that mission. Once the chief PNP delegates this authority to a force commander, that commander assumes control."
Napeñas has been criticized as well after he supposedly broke the chain of command when he took the ''advice'' of Purisima to keep PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the dark about the Mamasapano mission.
The sacked SAF commander argued that he considered his last meeting with President Benigno Aquino III last January 9 at the Bahay Pangarap for a mission update as a ''tacit approval'' to implement the operation plan.
It was during the January 9 meeting that Purisima told Napeñas to inform Espina and Roxas about the operation only on the day of its implementation.
This supposed violation in protocol contributed to the deaths of the SAF men.
'CHAIN OF COMMAND'
In his speech today, Purisima explained that he did not break the chain of command for the simple reason that this concept does not apply to the PNP, which is civilian in nature.
''The concept of chain of command is a military concept and does not strictly apply to a civilian organization like the PNP. Instead what applies to the PNP are the principles of supervision, direction, control and delegation of powers as understood in the context of civil service laws, rules and regulation, and administrative law,'' he said.
Purisima said even though he was suspended as PNP chief, it did not prevent him from providing advice and inputs to the force commander.
He also said there was no need to inform Roxas about the raid, as the latter does not have control and supervision over PNP and is not included in the PNP command line.
USURPATION OF AUTHORITY
In her presentation of the Department of Justice's legal framework on the Mamasapano clash, Secretary Leila De Lima explained that the PNP, being civilian in nature, is not subject to the chain of command concept since the latter is supposedly a military construct.
De Lima said in line with this, the liabilities of PNP officials are determined using civil service rules and not the military justice system.
She said administrative charges against PNP officials who violated protocols include grave misconduct, insubordination, while criminal charges include usurpation of authority.
Some quarters believe President Aquino broke the chain of command by supposedly consulting a suspended PNP chief over a highly sensitive mission. This was aggravated by the fact that Espina was kept out of the loop.
Malacañang, for its part, said the president did not violate any law when he consulted Purisima.