Aquino, House leaders discuss Mamasapano tragedy
MANILA (UPDATED) - President Aquino met with leaders of the House of Representatives Monday morning to discuss the Mamasapano incident and its implications on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Malacanang said.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, in a statement, said Aquino briefed Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other House leaders on the background of the operations for the capture of wanted terrorists Marwan and Usman.
"He discussed the instructions he gave to PNP SAF commander, Police Director Getulio Napenas who was accompanied by then PNP Director General Alan Purisima," Coloma said.
"The President said that he had given specific instructions to Napenas on the need for coordination with the AFP and for Purisima to inform PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina," he added. "However, he found out later that these instructions had not been followed."
Coloma said the President shared with them the text messages he had with Purisima on January 25.
He said the record shows that in Aquino's first text message at 5:45 a.m, Purisima informed the President, among others, that "Marwan was killed and one SAF trooper was wounded. The body of Marwan was left behind but pictures were taken. The troopers are now (in the) withdrawal phase and progress report to follow."
The President asked: "… Why could they not contain and/or overwhelm 15-20 member opposing force" when (as he had been informed previously), "… 160 SAF troopers were directly involved in this operation plus provisions for other PNP and AFP units to assist"?
At 11:37 a.m. Purisima informed the President that "…the main effort is withdrawing and according to (the) director (of the) IG (intelligence group) we still have our contact with the(m) and will hit them again sir."
Coloma said Aquino also reiterated his statement during his televised message last February 6 regarding the instances that would have called for the mission to be aborted, but which was not done.
"The President listened to the representatives' views on how the killing of the PNP SAF troopers has given rise to a clamor among their constituents that the ends of justice be pursued, as part of rebuilding public confidence on the viability of the peace process," he said.
He added that House leaders brought up the need for "leveling off with the MILF" on its partnership with the government in the peace process including the containment of the BIFF; and its cooperation in the arrest of those responsible for the deaths of the PNP-SAF troopers.
Aquino said the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are now gathering evidence for appropriate charges to be filed in court.
"While acknowledging that the enactment of the BBL has been delayed, he emphasized the importance of approving the measure in a timely manner," Coloma said.
Those in the meeting include Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, majority leader; Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, minority leader; Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the draft BBL.
Former senior military and PNP officers who are now House members -- Representatives Samuel Pagdilao, Romeo Acop, Leopoldo Bataoil, Gary Alejano, and Ashley Acedillo -- also attended the meeting.
Aside from Aquino and Coloma, Palace officials present during the meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, and PMS Secretary Julia Abad.