EXCEPT for the disclosure on the extent of US involvement in the Mamasapano raid – bits and pieces of which were already leaked to media weeks ago – the report released by the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) does not really reveal anything new. If at all, the 92-page report merely formalized the cover-up of PNoy’s culpability for the botched raid. It is the Palace-approved version of the events that transpired on that fateful day in February 2015.
And as we foretold in our column a few weeks ago, it will be suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima and former PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas who would ultimately bear the brunt of the blame for the disastrous Mamasapano operation.
While the BOI report initially seemed critical of PNoy, saying that he “bypassed the established PNP Chain of Command,” the same report nevertheless absolved him of any liability supposedly because “the President exercised his prerogative to deal directly with Napeñas instead of the Officer-in-Charge of the PNP (OIC-PNP) Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.”
This finding by the BOI that the President dealt directly with Napeñas was clearly intended not only to confirm PNoy’s story that the dismissed SAF commander had repeatedly lied to him and deliberately fed him with the wrong information but also to downplay Purisima’s intimate involvement in the operation.
We recall that during the breakfast meeting with a coalition of Christian leaders in Malacanang last Monday, PNoy blasted Napeñas for allegedly defying his order to coordinate with the military “days before” the actual mission. PNoy also chided Napeñas for his “lack of professionalism” and making “palpak” [poor]decisions that resulted in the “mission impossible.”
PNoy, however, did not explain to his audience why he was dealing with Purisima – who was then already suspended by the Ombudsman – on such a major and sensitive police operation instead of acting PNP chief Espina.
Anyway, we all know PNoy’s attempt to make it appear that he “dealt directly” with Napeñas is a mere ploy to extricate himself from possible criminal charges for letting Purisima call the shots on the Mamasapano operation and blatantly disobeying the Ombudsman’s suspension order.
Perhaps because he could no longer take being publicly crucified, Napeñas turned the tables on PNoy, practically calling him “a liar” just as his suspended boss Purisima did a week before.
The former SAF director’s lawyer vehemently denied that his client fooled Aquino. “Definitely, definitely, General Napeñas did not lie to the President,” his lawyer said.
“General Napeñas submitted his cellular phone to the [Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] for forensic analysis. In all 23 pages of transcript, there was no exchange of messages between General Napeñas and the President,” Napeñas’ lawyer added. In short, Napeñas could not have lied to PNoy because he never dealt with or talked to the President directly.
Clearly, all the information and directives that Napeñas got on the Mamasapano operation came from PNoy’s best buddy, Purisima. And since PNoy confirmed that he always dealt with Napeñas “through Purisima” for the January 25 mission, the former SAF chief had every right to believe that Purisima’s instructions came from or were authorized by PNoy. Indeed, it is unfair to let Napeñas take the heat for obeying the operational set up that PNoy himself tolerated and abetted.
If anyone should take the fall for the disastrous operation, it should be PNoy. He allowed a suspended PNP chief (and trusted friend) to run the show. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out the way he expected. And now that he’s facing an angry public backlash, he’s trying to wash his hands of the failed mission.
This explains why Interior Secretary Mar Roxas keeps insisting that PNoy had no liability for the bloodbath in Mamasapano, arguing that it was Purisima’s disobedience to PNoy’s orders which led to the debacle.
It is therefore no surprise the BOI report also tried to mitigate PNoy’s responsibility for the Mamasapano disaster, finding that PNoy merely “allowed the participation of…Purisima in the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus despite the suspension order of the Ombudsman.”
By describing Purisima as a mere “participant” (instead of the “commandant” as he obviously was), it is apparent that the BOI wanted to portray Purisima as a “bit player” in Oplan Exodus so as not to expose PNoy to possible criminal liability in permitting the suspended PNP chief to circumvent the Ombudsman’s suspension order.
But if, as Roxas claims, Purisima disobeyed the President’s orders, is that not an admission that PNoy recognized Purisima as being on top of the operation, or at the very least, that Purisima played a key role in executing Oplan Exodus? Otherwise, why would PNoy still give Purisima an order knowing very well that the latter was already suspended?
You see, that’s the problem with a cock-and-bull-story. It’s hard to plug all the holes.