ANTI-crime and -corruption advocates on Friday said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. should follow suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima’s decision and also resign because of his involvement in the tragic Mamasapano clash that killed 44 elite police commandos.
According to Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the reported resignation of Purisima should not serve as way for Ochoa and other government officials behind the “top secret” operation to escape liability.
Ochoa is the chairman of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), which reportedly provided funding to the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) operation to capture suspected terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
“He [Ochoa] is the one who controls the purse, and he was the one who released the fund for the police operation being supervised by Purisima who was under a suspension order. He [Ochoa] must [also]resign and [be]placed under investigation,” Jimenez said in an interview.
Purisima’s resignation over an apparently big role he played in the operation in Maguindanao province on January 25 was confirmed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in a televised speech also on Friday.
President Aquino reportedly allowed Purisima to handle the SAF operation while keeping Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina in the dark.
Jimenez said investigation of the carnage should include the President, since he also played a major role in the operation and, as the Commander-in-Chief, he could have saved the lives of the SAF forces who were outnumbered at the time by immediately sending reinforcements.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs headed by Sen. Grace Poe will begin its hearings on the Mamasapano clash on February 9 (Monday) aimed at finding out what really happened as well as the operational lapses committed by officials in command.
Purisima is among those invited by the committee to attend the initial hearing and Poe said the panel still expects him to appear even if he has resigned as PNP chief.
Poe explained that they want Purisima to show up at the Senate inquiry in order for him to shed light on his alleged involvement in the SAF operation despite being under a six-month suspension.
He said the police official cannot use his resignation as reason for him not to attend the proceedings, noting that aside from the SAF operation the former PNP chief can also tell the committee the reason behind his decision to leave the service.
Aside from Purisima, SAF survivor PO2 Chris Lalan will also attend the Monday hearing.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed hopes that the Senate probe would satisfactorily clarify certain facts that could pave the way for the resumption of hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Marcos recently suspended a hearing on the proposed BBL to wait first for results of the investigation of the Mamasapano incident that would determine who was liable for it.
He said the mission to arrest Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, a local terrorist, was simply not a suicide mission and definitely not worth the lives of the 44 commandos, who were all well-trained and well-armed.