March 14, 2015
Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general
Despite its limitations, the Board of Inquiry report on the Mamasapano incident makes clear the responsibility of President Benigno Aquino III in the botched operation to get Marwan.
It was Aquino who approved Oplan Exodus, a plan that was described by the BOI as defective from the start. It was Aquino who allowed suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisma to participate and run Oplan Exodus despite the latter’s suspension by the Ombudsman. It was Aquino who violated the chain of command of the PNP. It was Aquino who failed to provide strategic guidance insofar as the peace process was concerned, failing to factor in the ceasefire mechanisms in the planning of Exodus. And it was Aquino who remained silent when the time on target concept was raised by the SAF director.
Principal responsibility for Mamasapano resides with the President as commander in chief and as approving authority. What is ironic is that the BOI report made use of the President’s latest statements on March 9 before religious leaders to refute his earlier statements to the media. The March 9 speech in effect boomeranged on Aquino. Thus it became ever clearer that he was the one who approved the defective plan.
The suspended PNP chief and presidential buddy Purisima also broke the chain of command and violated his suspension order when he organized meetings, implemented Oplan Exodus and took it upon himself to coordinate with other officials and agencies, including coordinating with the President.
Meanwhile, former SAF Director Gen. Getulio Napenas also broke the chain of command when he followed orders from Purisima and when he failed to report the operation to his direct superior, the OIC PNP.
The BOI report makes mention of the US role in Mamasapano, citing the 6 US forces who were present at the SAF Tactical Command Post on the eve of the operation. The report disproves earlier statements by the US embassy that they had no role in Mamasapano. The BOI acknowledges that the US provided intelligence, including real –time information, on the locations of Marwan and Usman. The report however stopped short of truly uncovering the extensive role of the US. It failed to follow through on a finding that the submission of Marwan’s tissue samples to waiting FBI agents in General Santos City was against PNP protocol. It failed to follow up on the real source of funding for the operation, which came from the US, and not the P100,000 operational budget previously claimed by Napenas. It did not see anything wrong with the presence of US troops at the SAF TCP.
The tandem of Aquino and Purisima are principally to blame for the Mamasapano debacle. What is infuriating is that Aquino has been engaged in a grand cover-up since Day 1 of the incident. Aquino has violated the law and his own oath of office. Aquino has used his position to cover up the truth. He has asked his allies in Congress to do the same. Aquino has repeatedly been exposed as a liar by his own statements and by the findings of the BOI.
Mar Roxas’ claims that Purisima not Aquino should be blamed does not tally with the facts, is inconsistent with the BOI report and is a pathetic attempt to defend the President.
The BOI report confirms what we have known all along. The time for lies and excuses is over. Aquino must be held accountable now. Aquino, the lying and incompetent president, must go now. ###