MANILA - President Aquino may have violated several laws when he allowed then-suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to participate in Oplan Exodus against a wanted terrorist that led to the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
Purisima's updates to the President gave him the impression the troubled PNP-SAF troops were getting help from the Armed Forces when they weren't, according to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
Zarate, a lawyer by profession, accused of Aquino defying the authority of the Ombudsman to suspend Purisima.
He also believes that the President betrayed public trust and may have violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Republic Act 6713 or the code of ethical standards for public officials.
"Very clear naman... lumalabas na sa imbestigasyon kahapon, umamin si Pursima that he was calling the shots. Alam ni Presidente Aquino kaya masakit sa loob niya na tinanggap ang resignation ni Purisma," Zarate said. "There was defiance sa order ng Ombudsman na suspendido si Purisima. Alam na ni President Aquino ito, sinasabi ang partisipasyon, advice pero lumalabas 'di advice. He was given full authority in the conduct of Oplan Exodus. Malinaw ito na si President Aquino, mayroong betrayal sa public trust."
"Gross inexcusable negligence. Alam na niya na suspended si Purisima, binigyan pa rin niya ng karapatan, kapangyarihan na mag-lead sa operation," he alleged. "Secondly, sa code of ethical standards, a public official should uphold public interest. Pinapaboran ni Presidente Aquino ang best friend forever niya. Talagang magkaibigan sila. Ano ba ang nakasalalay na public interest? He should have known, allowing Purisima to proceed with Oplan Exodus, magkakagulo. Ang lugar na pupuntahan ng SAF, maraming armado doon."
NOT COVERED BY IMMUNITY
Fr. Ranhilo Aquino, in a dzMM interview also shared his insights. "A criminal act committed while in office is not covered by immunity because it's never part of your office to commit a crime."
"If you're asking what crime could have been committed? One: inducing, allowing somebody to exercise office; two: in effect defying the suspension that was imposed upon Purisima," he said. "Even conferring privileges on the person who was not entitled to."
Zarate, meanwhile, claimed that Aquino undermined the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front when he approved Oplan Exodus that classified the MILF as an enemy.
He also believes that Aquino cannot use Purisima's alleged lies about the operation as his defense.
Zarate fears a possible cover-up after the Senate wrapped up its investigation on the Mamasapano incident.
Malacanang earlier this week said Purisima lied to Aquino about the operation.
Purisima is personally close to Aquino. The President, in one of his latest speeches, said he received Purisima resignation's with a heavy heart.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said, "Wala naman akong narinig o nakita na pagpapahiwatig sa kanyang—pagpapahiwatig niya regarding any 'regret.' Ang nasaksihan ko lang nitong nakaraang halos isang buwan na ay ‘yung determinasyon ng Pangulo na mabatid ‘yung buong katotohanan para maging ganap ‘yung kanyang pag-unawa at maging gabay din ito for future actions."
Another left-wing lawmaker, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, wants the House to resume its investigation on the Mamasapano incident.
"Maraming inconsistencies na lumalabas sa storyline na inilabas ng Malacanang," he alleged.
Tinio also claimed that there is a cover-up regarding the US role in the operation to get international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan.
Tinio believes that the Palace is shutting down investigations on the incident.
'HOUSE PROBE NOT SCRIPTED'
Meanwhile, 1BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello said it's premature to say that Aquino's meeting with lawmakers Monday changed the mind of members of Congress when it comes to passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Bello said the House investigation is the "most credible and most transparent."
"Sabi nila magulo kasi everybody wanted to ask questions," he said. "''Di gaya ng ibang investigative bodies, mukhang scripted."
Zarate also warned against resuming deliberations on the BBL without investigating the Mamasapano incident. "
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes echoed Zarate's statement.
"The problem is not that Purisima lied to Aquino. The problem was Aquino placing a suspended official in charge and relying on that official instead of the proper government officials and agencies. The problem was the President all along. Now he lies to us repeatedly to cover-up his role,” Reyes alleged.
He said Aquino cannot invoke the memory of his parents and the anti-dictatorship struggle to shield himself from any accountability.
An opposition lawmaker, UNA president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco feels that instead of a whitewashing, there is a "yellow washing" in the Mamasapano probe.
"The leaderships of both Houses cannot deny the fact that they have been pressing for an early termination of the hearings. This is clearly 'yellow-washing' but their efforts will not remove the stink of a cover up," he said.
BUHAY party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said that while he isn't supporting an ouster plot against Aquino, he wants to find out the truth about Mamasapano before resuming deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
ABAKADA Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said, "They have to put everything on record, including the narrative of the President because we've had several narratives. I agree, palitan na nila ang script writer nila kasi pangatlong script na ito eh."
House Ad Hoc Panel committee Chairman Rufus Rodriguez said his panel isn't sure yet about resuming its executive sesions on the BBL on March 2.
Rodriguez said the Mamasapano incident remains the biggest problem of the BBL.
"The loss of trust of legislators both in the House of Representatives and Senate, you can see that in the House. Before, we expected majority support in the ad hoc and in the plenary. Now, we cannot say that anymore. Those members, they have so many questions on the BBL because of what happened in Mamasapano,"
Rodriguez said their meeting with Aquino only clarified the President's role in the operation but didn't address the issues raised by congressmen who are against the bill.
The panel will also wait for the PNP board of inquiry report on the Mamasapano incident, as well as check if two other house committees will resume their investigations.
He said the the plenary may only act on the BBL after the President's State of the Nation Address this year.
Rodriguez said that the BBL will lose if the bill is put to a vote now in the lower House.