PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has gravely betrayed public trust when he allowed suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to oversee the Special Action Force (SAF) operation in Maguindanao which later led to the killing of 44 elite policemen, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman Dante Jimenez said on Friday.
“On the part of the president, there was betrayal of public trust which is an impeachable offense while Purisima can be cited for contempt for violating the suspension order against him,” Jimenez told The Manila Times.
According to the VACC chief, who was among those who filed a string of charges against Purisima, Aquino “breached operational protocols” and “broke the chain of command” when he put the suspended PNP chief in command of the operation to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman, both members of the Jemaah Islamiyah.
The 44 SAF men were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after the elite commandos reportedly killed Marwan. They chanced upon the Muslim rebels as they prepared for extraction.
Jimenez said that while it is common for police officers “finish what they started,” no order from a suspended official can be deemed valid.
“Some general friends in the PNP told me that since it was Purisima who plotted the operation against Marwan, it should be him to see its conclusion. The only problem was that he was under suspension when the incident happened,” stressed the VACC head.
Jimenez further said that by keeping the operational details secret from Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP Acting chief Leonardo Espina, both Aquino and Purisima “micromanaged” the operation.
“The DILG, upon the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman, suspended Purisima. By taking part in the operation, Purisima can be cited for contempt, if not obstruction of justice,” he explained.
Aquino could be courting another impeachment case since betrayal of public trust is an impeachable offense, added Jimenez.