Who had operational control of the SAF, Mr. President?


ON 4 December 2015, the Ombudsman ruled the preventive suspension for six months of PNP Chief Alan Purisima for six months. Per news accounts dated December 13, 2014, Purisima complied with the order of the Ombudsman “after President Benigno Aquino III asked him to do so.”

When reporters asked about Purisima’s continued stay at the official residence of the PNP chief and a possible conflict with PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Aquino said: “No, [Purisima] is not supposed to be leading.”

On whether Espina was now the one in charge, DILG’s Sec. Mar Roxas was quoted as saying, “we gave that guidance in the leadership meeting na there ought not to be, dapat walang interruption, pagdadalawang-isip, pagdududa-duda sa pagpapatupad ng mga orders mula sa national headquarters.”

Funny, even the pnp.gov.ph still had Purisima’s PNP’s New Year’s Call dated January 8, 2014. Oh well, he was just suspended not terminated, right?

All these are telltale signs of how the chain of command is in the PNP. Just like during the time of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo, it now appears that the DILG head has no operational control over the PNP as mandated by Republic Act No. 6975, as amended by RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 and further amended by RA 9708. What gives, Secretary Roxas?

These three laws redefined the role of the PNP in relation to counterinsurgency functions, “The Department of the Interior and Local Government shall be relieved of the primary responsibility on matters involving the suppression of insurgency and other serious threats to national security. The Philippine National Police shall, through information gathering and performance of its ordinary police functions, support the Armed Forces of the Philippines on matters involving suppression of insurgency, except in cases where the President shall call on the PNP to support the AFP in combat operations. In times of national emergency, the PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology shall, upon the direction of the President, assist the armed forces in meeting the national emergency” (Section 3, R.A. 8551).

Why is the President so interested with the PNP that on two occasions, he has chosen to set aside his alter ego and directly get involved with operations? Why is the President so blinded with Purisima from the Luneta fiasco to the Fallen 44?

The President said in his address to the nation that the SAF was in Mamasapano to serve warrants of arrest (“ang kanilang misyon, ipatupad ang mga outstanding warrants of arrest sa dalawang notorious na teroristang matagal nang pinaghahanap ng mga awtoridad: Sina Abdulbasit Usman at Zulkipli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan”). The PNP National Police Manual (PNPM-DO-DS-3-1) provides for the serving of warrants under Section 5 but then again, Mamasapano was a unique situation.

Mamasapano was unique because PNP had two operational codes: Oplan Wolverine per SAF Chief Getulio Napanes and Oplan Exodus per SAF OIC Noli Talino. The Americans were involved but the actual involvement has not been made public. It was designed and planned by a suspended PNP chief bypassing the DILG secretary and the PNP OIC and reporting directly to the president (per the debriefing of Napanes). The suspended PNP chief held on to the “actionable intelligence” not even putting in the loop elements of the AFP on the ground. It tapped the SAF, the elite force of the PNP, and SAF had 400 of their men leading the dawn offensive. It appears that there were \no contingency plans. There were peace protocols that both the Philippine government and the MILF should observe but these were set aside. The Secretary of National Defense was conveniently left out. It was an operation financed outside of the DILG family. The President was in Zamboanga City when the SAF troops made the jump off.

Clearly, Mamasapano was outside the chain of command when Purisima went directly to Aquino. Clearly, somebody gave the go signal to make it a covert operation; some in the know call it a suicide mission. Clearly, the team leader had to go to the chain of command to get the AFP cover and someone had to give that go signal. Clearly, there was a violation of laws when a suspended PNP chief got involved in tactical operations. Clearly, the suspended PNP chief had to tell someone what had happened on the field of Mamasapano but not the DILG secretary or the acting PNP chief, both of whom he bypassed. Clearly, suspended PNP boss Purisima didn’t want to reveal this operation to the Defense secretary. Clearly, someone knew the details of the operation quite well. Who was Purisima’s buddy who knew of the “actionable intelligence” and who was his superior?

Indeed, the Mamasapano operation, whether Wolverine or Exodus, breached the chain of command. Who is culpable? Who sent his men on an operation without extraction? Who agreed knowing there were peace protocols in place? Who set the motion to derail the peace talks?

44 lives and probably more, perished because of a badly planned operation meant to shore up someone’s credibility ruined by a suspension. Surely, it can’t be the pieces of gold. Pray tell it is not the Nobel! But then again, in this era of Tuwid na Daan, you never know. And that is why we need to know the truth for only then can justice be served.

The Board of Inquiry will not go any higher than the authority for which it was created. The Poe-led hearing in the Senate will be a push and pull of politics. The MILF will have credence if it is able to identify who among their ranks participated and who among their members performed the barbaric rituals. There will be confidence building if they surrender the arms and personal belongings of the Fallen 44. But pardoning the killers? Is that in the cause of peace?

There can only be justice when there is truth. But Mr. President, you said the truth would set us free. Pray tell, have you told the truth?


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  1. Surely this operation was not just to serve warrants Even the simplest of minds can fathom that. And pinoy’s unreachable peace nobel prize is still unreachable. He tried to do everything to get that coveted prize, but his mentors made a boo boo with this plan. Isn’t it time for him to realize he is being used by his comrades in target practice or golf? When is he going to realize that since they know him very well, they can let them dance to a tune of their choice? He has some form of abnormality or medical condition where he cannot accept even his own faults. He can never let the buck stop on him, he keeps passing it on. what a scenario would that be with him presenting the captured wanted dude with all his “yes sir” men around him? oh what a dream come true but the dream will forever be elusive! He just caused intense sorrow to the families of the dead heroes. Be a hero for once pinoy, assume responsibililty!

  2. This is a simple layman’s thinking regarding such military operations. 44 fighting men fully and presumed riding in military vehicles or maybe walking toward eminent encounter or shooting skirmishes should have been back up. May be high powered armor vehicles or warfare tanks should be with them as support group, even armed helicopters and protectors of the moving troops, advance reconnaissance soldiers, effecive monitoring of troop movement or reliable helping civilians and not the least, other military organizations sould be within arm length somewhere in the town or nearby highway, literally meaning they could come up to assist the firefight and in a jippy to protect, fight or rescue … just wonder where are they??? Unbelievable goop off!!! Someone in the echelon authority must have contributed
    in the monumental disaster and death of our brave fighting men.

    While having all beautiful and remarkable ceremonies of the our fallen heroes, there should have been also counter plastering and combing the whole area to the very day the killing happened and to this very day. But, not spending to much talking in the papers. This is only exposing the weakness and slip- up in the igher echelon.

    If the counter operation is a secret…good. You can let the rest of Pilipino people know it later.

    God bless our fighting troops and Philippines get over such divastating incident.

  3. I just want to know if really the warrant of arrest on Marwan was issued by our court and what offense. Marwan is international terrorist and it was the Americans who put a prize tag on his head. Also, what was state of mind of Pnoy when he was in Zamboanga at height of the firefight during that fateful Sunday morning?

  4. When the Gilas basketball team lost disastrously against all expectations the blame was placed squarely on the coach. Regardless of what the proper protocol was, this debacle should be distilled down to its most basic element, thats the raid on the enemy’s camp to capture a notorious terrorist. For this the country’s best trained unit was utilized and the result was our version of Custer’s Last Stand. The blame rests solely on Gen Napenas, the one directly in charge of the operation. They broke all the basic tenets of combat, and what was supposed to be a lightning commando raid turned into a positional battle under the worst possible conditions for our men. They lost the element of surprise as soon as the first shots rang out, reflecting bad planning and even worse training. Did they even rehearse this operation? Why didn’t Napenas use the 300 men he still had in reserve? Did he lose his nerve? Napenas should never be given another command, unless its the command of the PSG. And remember 60 pus troopers died, I don’t know why the press concentrates only on the 44.

  5. Purisima will “take the bullet” for President Aquino the way he was committed to take the bullet, literally, for Noynoy Aquino when he was his close-in bodyguard during the Cory regime. So, Purisima gambled and placed his bet of all or nothing and lost and will now have to face the consequence. Meanwhile, the lives of 44 elite policemen were lost and we have a President getting away with a most costly to the nation lie. All for vanity.

  6. Thank you Ma.Lourdes Tiquia.
    You said it all.

    Mar – what are you waiting for. Tao-taohan? A disgrace from your Dad.
    RESIGN IMMEDIATELY – if you want to run for President.

    Be your own self. Wag kang sumabit sa palda ni BS Aquino.
    Otherwise, you also bakla!