MANILA - Former Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas on Tuesday fired back at former President Benigno Aquino III who alleged that he failed to follow the latter's instructions to secure support from the Philippine Army.
After President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a reinvestigation of the botched anti-terrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that resulted to the death of 44 SAF commandos, Aquino issued a statement, insisting that the mission was not his fault, pinning the blame instead on Napeñas who allegedly lied to him and disobeyed orders.
In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Napenas said he “never” lied to Aquino, though maintaining that there was never an order to coordinate with then-Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr.
"Ever since, ang sinasabi ko diyan, di niya ipinag-utos yan. Ang nagsalita dyan na mag-coordinate doon sa kay General Catapang, si Gen. Purisima. ‘Di ba, sinasabi ko na yan? ‘Ako na ang bahala kay Gen. Catapang, saka mo na sabihan yung dalawa'," he said.
Napenas also said that if coordination with Catapang was really intended, why then was he not invited to the Malacañang meeting they had with Aquino in January.
"Bakit hindi niya tinawag si Gen Catapang during that meeting sa Malacanang?," he said.
He also underscored that Aquino should have known that he cannot deal directly with Catapang as it would be a breach of protocol, and would instead need to liaise with his superior, then-PNP OIC General Leonardo Espina.
"Alam niyang di ako pwedeng dumaan kay General Catapang. I have to pass General Espina, eh bina-blind nga si General Espina. Do you think they will give me the order na mag-coordinate kay President eh they know pretty well na dadaan ako kay General Espina eh binlind nga nila yung tao," he said.
Napenas maintained, Aquino "is lying" and "has no balls" for leaving his men in the air and now pinning the blame on him.
"Yun ang naging salita ko dahil hindi niya panindigan yung salita niya at yung aksyon niya. Iniwanan kami sa gitna e. Ang isang commander, sa isang ginawa mo, aksyon mo, desisyon mo, in the end, hindi mo iiwanan ang tao mo," he said.
"Hindi nga ba’t di na niya hinaharap yung responsibilidad? Ako na raw ang may kasalanan. Hindi ba’t iniwanan?," he added.
Napena said it is clear to him that he is being pinned by the previous administration as the main culprit in the failed mission.
"Ito na nga ang nangyari, idiniin ako nang idiniin sa kaso. Hindi ba obvious sa taongbayan na pinagtulung-tulungan ako ng buong administrasyon, na gawing scapegoat at fall guy? To me, ang liwanag nun na pinagtulung-tulungan ako," he said.