Napenas: No such thing as SAF 'suicide mission'

Posted at Mar 25 2015 08:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2015 06:12 AM

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MANILA - Oplan Exodus, the Special Action Force mission to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Marwan and two other targets, was not a suicide mission, according to relieved Special Action Force director Getulio Napenas Jr.

Speaking to radio DZMM, Napenas said he placed full trust in suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima that he would coordinate the Mamasapano mission with the Armed Forces since the extraction of SAF troops was an important part of the mission.

He said Purisima's word that he will coordinate with AFP chief of staff Gregorio Catapang was assurance enough.

"We took that as assurance that he would be coordinating...We already told him that extraction was very important," he said.

"Wala sa doktrina ng SAF na gumawa ng suicide mission."

A total of 44 SAF commandos and 18 MILF fighters were killed in the January 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Napenas has said the deaths could have been minimized had the military used artillery fire against the enemy forces during the early hours of the clash.

He said one reason why the Army's 6th Division did not use artillery fire is because the military did not want to jeopardize the ongoing government peace talks with the MILF.

The relieved SAF chief said secrecy was paramount in the Mamasapano mission so that Marwan and the other targets would not be tipped off. This is the reason why he and other SAF officers did not go to Zamboanga City before the launch of Oplan: Exodus.

Napenas said President Aquino approved the operational plan to inform the Army's 6th Infantry Division about the mission only on "time on target."

He said the mission could have been launched on January 11-14 even before the visit of Pope Francis last January 15-19. He said this plan was scrapped because some of the SAF troops that would be tapped to join the mission were assigned to protect the pope.

He also denied that a PNP official who allegedly "wined and dined" AFP officers the night before the Mamasapano mission knew about the planned raid.

"Wala sila kinalaman sa operation na ito. Inilihim na namin sa kanila," he said.

RADIO DZMM, March 25, 2015