Malacañang on Sunday vowed that charges will be filed against those who were responsible for the massacre of 44 elite police commandos in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province, including those who may have ordered the bungled operation.
“Charges will be filed based on probe findings and evidence [to be submitted by the Board of Inquiry (BOI)], Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a text message to The Manila Times.
When asked if suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima will be among those to be investigated and charged, Coloma replied: “BOI will ascertain facts and responsibilities of those involved.”
The BOI is headed by Chief Supt. Edgar Ingking, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO), with Director Benjamin Magalong, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez Jr., chief of the Directorate for Research and Development, as members.
The body has started its inquiry by getting the statements of sacked SAF chief Leo Napenas and SAF officers who survived the Mamasapano encounter.
Acting SAF commander C/Supt. Noli Taliño, who was Napenas’ deputy when the operation was launched, said the BOI will determine if Purisima, who was suspended over a graft complaint in December, was involved in the operation.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself admitted that Purisima briefed him about the operation up until his suspension.
Coloma said what is important is for the probe panel to find out who may be held responsible for the carnage.
Besides the 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and seven civilians were also reported killed.
“It is important to know the truth, to know first who were responsible and have a process of investigation, prosecution and trial once charges are filed in court,” the Palace official said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Coloma said the filing of charges will naturally follow the process of investigation.
“Of course we have to follow the process of getting all the evidence, establishment of the case and the actual filing. We have rules regarding that,” he added.
Various groups claimed that Aquino and Purisima should be held liable for the Mamasapano bloodbath, noting that tapping a suspended police official for such a sensitive operation was a form of betrayal of public trust.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said the two officials should be made to account for bungling the police operation to arrest terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman.
VACC chairman Dante Jimenez and Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. claimed that an impeachment complaint can be filed against Aquino while Purisima can be held for contempt for continuously performing his function as police chief when he had already been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Purisima is facing graft charges over a questionable deal with a private courier service.
Coloma said justice can only be attained for the SAF men by wiping out the problem of terrorism.
He asked the public to offer prayers for the victims and their families.
“We can only render true justice for their sacrifice if we will unite as a nation against terrorism because that was their mission in Maguindanao,” the official pointed out.
“Let us be united in the mission [of peace]while we pursue justice for what happened in Maguindanao,” Coloma said.