Asks public to wait for probe results
A day after President Benigno Aquino 3rd announced that he has let go of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, Malacañang said it is premature to blame the newly resigned police head for the deaths of 44 police commandos
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Saturday that it would be best for the public to wait for the reports of various panels that investigated the incident in Mamasapano that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos dead.
Lacierda said the investigating bodies, among them the PNP’s Board of Inquiry, will determine the role played by Purisima in the operation that aimed to arrest top terrorists Zulkifli Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said that Marwan was indeed killed in the Mamasapano operation that also left 7 civilians and scores of Moro Islamic Liberation Front members dead.
Suspended SAF chief Getulio Napeñas has admitted that he reported directly to Purisima despite the latter’s suspension.
But Malacañang maintained that the public should not jump into conclusions.
“The role of General Purisima, if any, would be revealed in the testimony in the Board of Inquiry, or in the Senate, or the House. Let’s just wait for his testimony,” Lacierda said in an interview aired over Radyo ng Bayan.
“All these inquiries will converge on certain point. For instance, what was the operation? There were several operations to neutralize Marwan. I’m sure that will be discussed, as well as the history of those operations and the present concept . . . and what has happened to the execution vis-à-vis the operation,” he added.
Lacierda is hopeful that Purisima’s resignation will enable the nation and the police force to move on and focus all efforts in seeking justice for the fallen policemen.
“The concerns about having a PNP chief who is suspended and a PNP OIC (officer-in-charge) will have to be addressed right now. The President and the Secretary of Interior and Local Government will have time to discuss the appointment of the new PNP chief and that would provide continuity and, certainly, improve the morale of the PNP,” he added.
He said giving justice to the 44 commandos killed in Mamasapano is part “of the institutional buildup or morale buildup of the PNP.”
“Certainly, we look forward to the appointment of a new PNP Chief,” Lacierda added.
Sen. Grace Poe, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order which will conduct a probe on the Mamasapano incident, welcomed Purisima’s resignation.
“There are those who will say that it would have been best if he [Aquino] immediately appointed a new PNP Chief for clarity in chain of command, but this is a sensitive process that you can’t pack in a short address,” she said in a radio interview.
But for House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list, the President has again sacrificed people to wash himself off liabilities.
“He accepted the resignation of Gen. Purisima without explaining the general’s role in the operations. Because he was under suspension, Purisima can only command the operation upon the order of Pres. Aquino. He is therefore guiltier than his friend. We are asking suspended SAF Commander Gen. Getulio Napeñas to defend himself and his men instead of taking the blame from President Aquino,” Colmenares said in a statement.
“It will be a disservice to the slain 44 SAF men if he allows President Aquino and General Purisima to escape responsibility by blaming the SAF for the botched operations,” Colmenares added.