Aquino stonewalled inquiry; cover-up underway


Despite its valiant efforts, the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry’s (PNP BOI) report on why and how 44 Special Action Forces got helplessly trapped and massacred by Muslim insurgents on that fateful January day is far from complete.

The big reason for this is that President Benigno S. Aquino stonewalled its probe, and is now desperately trying to conceal what really happened: even as he was informed early that morning that the commandos have been cornered by the Muslim insurgents, he did little to order their rescue.

Aquino refused to be interviewed, declined to give his account of the event to the probe body, which to its credit did ask him. Indeed, those who, together with Aquino, rebuffed the PNP-BOI’s request seem to be guilty that they’re worried they might incriminate themselves or disclose Aquino’s criminal negligence if the PNP investigators interviewed them.

This is clear right on the first page of the report, in its Executive Summary:

“(The) BOI failed to secure an interview with the President, suspended Chief PNP Alan Purisima, Chief-of-Staff AFP General Gregorio Catapang and Lieutenant Rustico Guerrero. All concerned officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines refused to be interviewed by the BOI despite repeated requests.”

It’s understandable why Purisima refused to be interviewed. He is likely to face a court suit for violating the order of the Ombudsman and for usurpation of authority. It would be unlikely that Aquino’s best friend would see the inside of a jail cell or a military stockade while he is President. But with the case likely to drag on to the next administration, that could happen, and worse, he could lose his retirement benefits.

PNP-BOI report: Police asked for army artillery at 7 a.m.; Army fired phosphorus markers 11 hours later, at 6 p.m. Did Aquino tell them to do so?

PNP-BOI report: Police asked for army artillery at 7 a.m.; Army fired phosphorus markers 11 hours later, at 6 p.m. Did Aquino tell them to do so?

Catapang’s refusal to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI is unacceptable, as he could have very crucial information. If the armed forces hadn’t dilly-dallied in rescuing the Special Action Forces trapped by the insurgents, and if they just fired the phosphorus markers at 7 a.m. when they were asked to do so by PNP officials, and not 11 hours later, the 44 commandos would still be alive.

Or did Aquino give Catapang reasons to withhold their forces, which might be why they refused to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI?

Technically, it is only his Commander-in-Chief Aquino who could order him to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI. My bet is that it was Aquino himself, with the order relayed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who told him to stonewall the investigation.

Moral depravity

Aquino’s refusal to talk to the PNP-BOI probers, and even to just submit this account of the event, is not only an indication of his guilt but his moral depravity.

He called for what he pretended was a “prayer meeting” of evangelical groups, just for him to have a televised pulpit to give his account of the event, which was to put all blame on SAF director Getulio Napeñas, who didn’t have a chance to face his accuser.

Aquino refused to talk with the PNP probers, who might just ask the kind of questions that would show that he panicked and froze after the reports that the SAF were being massacred. The biggest lacuna in the PNP-BOI’s otherwise very comprehensive report: What did the President do that whole fateful day to save the SAF troopers?

He was informed that the operation didn’t go as planned at early morning. Aquino was not only the Commander-in-Chief but acted as strategic commander who helped plan the operation from its very inception and was privy even to its minutest details.

Yet there is no report, even in that of the PNP-BOI, that he called his security officials who were with him since the morning of that day in Zamboanga City to a crisis-conference to deal with the situation, to draw up a plan to rescue the trapped SAF forces.

After reading the PNP-BOI report and all other accounts of the Mamasapano event, I totally, completely stand by my columns almost three weeks ago, “Aquino got mad, panicked and closed his eyes to reality” (Feb. 24) and “Aquino orders SAF operations, then abandons his troops” (Feb. 5).

Even his speech at the “prayer meeting” last week, with all the blame heaped on Napeñas and all the details of the operation he disclosed, Aquino hasn’t explained a bit: “What did you do when you were informed the SAF were in trouble?”

Covering up his culpability in rescuing the SAF is this Administration’s main concern now. To the credit of the PNP-BOI, it reported a detail many have missed:

Missing messages?

“PDG Purisima’s sworn statement included, as an attachment, a transcript of his SMS exchange with the President on January 24, 2015. The BOI noted that such transcript did not consistently indicate the time when the SMS messages were sent and/or received by PDG Purisima or the President. Out of a total eleven SMS messages exchanged between them, only five messages indicated the time of transmission or receipt.”

“The BOI also observed that there appears to be an unusually long gap or an absence of SMS exchange between PDG Purisima and the President after 11:38 a.m. and before 6:20 p.m. The BOI could not determine on the basis of the submitted transcript if the eleven messages enumerated therein were the only SMS exchanges between PDG Purisima and the President on January 25, 2015. The BOI could not also determine … whether the absence of SMS exchanges between him and the President after 11:38 a.m. and before 6:20 p.m. indicates an absence of communication between two individuals during that period, or whether Purisima did not include in the transcript their SMS exchanges for that period.” (Emphasis added.)”

In short, the BOI was questioning why there were no SMS messages for seven hours after 11:38 a.m. Aquino’s last message, according to Purisima’s statement was actually at 10:16 a.m., which didn’t even ask about the situation of the SAF troops: “Basit should not get away.”

Is that what Purisima is hoping will make Aquino continue to back him up – that it would be devastating to the President if he made public their exchange of messages that he deleted in his transcript, which would show that the Commander-in-Chief just got mad, panicked, and abandoned his troops? Did Aquino paraphrase the infamous statement he made in the Yolanda episode: “May buhay pa naman sa kanila, ‘di ba?” Or did Aquino send angry messages cursing Purisima for the fiasco?

That the 10:16 a.m. message from Aquino was the last seems impossible given how Purisima and Aquino were frantically exchanging messages early in the morning, and especially since only the two were, in fact, running the operation.

The PNP-BOI emphasized how the President stonewalled the investigation, making it difficult to find out what he did on that fateful day by pointing out: “The Board likewise lacked access to the specific details of the activities of the President on January 25, 2015 in Zamboanga City that could have shed light on events prior to, during and after the operation.”

It also pointed out, quite significantly:
“The BOI did not have access to other crucial information such as call and SMS messages logs, and the text content of the SMS messages sent and received by majority of the key personalities before, during and after the execution of Oplan Exodus.”

“The Board requested key personalities to submit their cellular phones for digital forensic examination. CSAFP Catapang and Guerrero refused to submit their cellular phones to the BOI. Purisima also refused to turn over his cellular phone to the BOI.”

Why would they refuse to do so, if they had nothing to hide?
FB: Bobi Tiglao


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  1. One of the Americans ordered Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to fire the artillery. However, Pangilinan refused and told him, “Do not dictate to me what to do. I am the commander here!”

    The senate report had more questions than answers, but this quote was news to me. Even the Americans told Gen Pangilinan to help the SAF 44 by firing the artillery and he refused. Sounds like time for some arrests and a trial to get to the truth, asking for cooperation in the investigation was a waste of time.

  2. While as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the President is responsible and accountable for giving the order of a mission to proceed. He is not responsible nor is accountable for the details and planning of the operations of the mission.

    That responsibility and accountability of the mission success or in this case failure lies with PNP Officers who plan and executed the job. It clearly shows, and validated by the results that the PNP Officers were very inept and incompetent planning the operations.

    All PNP officers directly involve with the operations should be Court Marshalled and given dishonourable discharge.

    The rest that’s what happening is all fluff…a political circus…..only in the Philippines!!!
    It’s more fun in the Philippines.

  3. Wala na akong masabi pa Ambassador Tiglao.
    Sinabi mo na lahat.


    Bravo Ambassador.

  4. i said this a long time ago during the height of poe’s investigation of the massacre of the saf44, why was the body invesitgating, at the time the senate, and the boi of the pnp did not ask the telcos to provide them a certified copy of the text exchanges between the parties involved in the incident. nakakalungkot na mga seasoned police investigators itong nag imbestiga pero mukha yatang hindi nila kinuha yung evidence from the telcos to prove that what was given by purisima as evidence was reliable and true and factual.

  5. Nes Trinidad on

    I fully agree with your views Mr Tiglao – the crucial question that must be answered – what did you do when the TSHTF. In fact, that’s the only question that needs to be answered. Be that as it may, I find it hard to believe that in a room being used by the Americans as their Drone Hq, there is no mention of a cctv video that records the events that transpired that day. That is SOP for high security places. If the investigators can get a copy of that or it could ‘miraculously’ get uploaded to the internet – the one question we all have will be answered..

  6. ‘THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE”, quotes the President wannabe. And contrary to his above blabber, flip-flop, mumbo jambo speeches of Lies – of convoluted, spaghetti-pancit web of concoctions speeches here and there – hardly acceptable by any type of
    statesmanship statements -this Bumbling Aquino is an epitome of gutter-street trash talk presidency…PATHETIC, isn’t it?

  7. Vicente Penetrante on

    From the President, Vice President, Generals down to Mayors, refusal to talk and answer allegations is the norm. We have to take their words ‘they have nothing to hide.’ Or ‘they will answer at the proper forum.’

  8. The BOI did show where cooperation was not given to them. There is enough missing that indicates the report could not come up with the full truth on what happened.

  9. concerned citizen on

    I completely agree with you on all the points you raised here, Mr. Tiglao. Thank you for your usually thorough and in-depth assessment of the goings-on in our country. I think the limitations of the PNP-BOI inquiry highlights the fact that a truth commission on the Mamasapano massacre consisting of men of known probity and who know the law, or are former judges, should be formed, and that such commission be imbued with the power to subpoena anyone for appearance in its hearings, and to demand the surrender of anything deemed important to ferret out the truth (e.g., the cell phones of the main players in the incident) for investigation. But frankly, I don’t know how this will happen when Aquino’s bent on hiding the truth. God help our country!

  10. it is pretty obvious that pnoy, purisima, catapang and guererro are hiding something, if not they would voluntarily give their cellphones for investigation.. I remember during the senate hearing, catapang said they did not send air support because milf might think that they were undersiege even if saf already asked for reinforcement..I would really like to know why they fired white phosphorous around 5pm if they could do it earlier when most of the commandos were still alive..why late? grid coordinates were given so many times, and even said that most civilians vacated their place. did pnoy really ordered the afp to stand down? their reasons given during the senate hearings are not acceptable. so many questions left unanswered.

  11. Carl Cid Inting on

    Above everything else, Aquino, Purisima and Catapang’s stonewalling was to prevent spilling the beans regarding Aquino’s orders to ‘stand down’ from rescuing the SAF troopers, for fear of breaking the ceasefire with the MILF. Nevermind if 44 SAF troopers were massacred, Aquino’s precious BBL had to be saved!

  12. Leodegardo Pruna on

    It is very clear that the personalities mentioned by the writer did not surrender their cell phones or SMS to the BOI to hide what to them would place them in the most difficult of situation that is dishonorable discharge from their respective positions and offices. That is what makes it difficult to serve a playful and unthinking master who always play the blame game. God bless the Philippines.

  13. the mamapasano debacle is like a quicksand to noynoy and his cohorts -the more they wiggle to extricate themselves from the quagmire, the more they sink deeper. even the lifelines extended him by his subordinates (DOJ, Lacierda, et al) did not help since they were like straws that has no strength.

    noynoy should walk the talk when he quoted the Bible “the truth shall set us free”. perhaps noynoy is really bereft of sane thinking that he did not understand the real meaning of what he quoted!

  14. we will be expecting from malacanang or presidential allies to come up news or something to distract this issue on BOI!!! or even from sister Kris!

    so we have the pending DAP, PDAF where no presidential allies have been brought to court, corruption in Dept of Agriculture, the smuggling of 2000 40ft crate, the Bilibid Prison investigation…etc…etc

  15. You cannot fool the fool because He already fool. Abnoy abondoned the SAF 44. He abondoned Yolanda victims. He is a lier. He talked non sensed. He should not continue to be president, He should be in Mandaluyong as a leader and coomander in chief of the mentally retarded. There He cannot fool the fool.

  16. Surely, the next President will have them all in jail before the year ends. Anyway, the 1987 constitution does not explicitly mention that a president can never be sued. The only problem is that simyon is and was never a president. He is a usurper of a public office. In fact, with their refusal to answer for a summon from the BOI, those military guys can be court martialed. The civilian can be held under our penal codes.

  17. I suggest you read today’s column of Oscar Tan of Inquirer. It is a source of objective and impartial analysis of the report.

  18. Yes, Sir Bobi, the BOI report is not complete yet because Aquino, Purisima and Napenas did not tell all and they are still busy from day one up to now on how to cover each asses.

  19. Hope you talked and commented also on behalf of our members of our Armed Forces who died all over our country who were fight the rebels/insurgents. Why only the SAF44 you are always commenting not also our Army. Is it for political reason? Its big tragedy and your are only talking who are TO BE blame on it. Its getting boring and you are talking the same in different way, GATA NA SABAW / SABAW NA MAY GATA. NOBODY WANTS THEM DIE THAT WAY EXCEPT THE ENEMY. LET THEM REST IN PEACE and stop using them their souls for your own purpose and be agood commentator.