Director Benjamin Magalong, head of the Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) set up by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the killing of 44 police commandos in Maguindanao in January, is now singing a different tune.
Two days after meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Magalong clarified that the Commander in Chief is not liable in the incident.
He complained to reporters that the BOI report was “spinned” to make it appear that the president was accountable because he bypassed the PNP chain of command.
Magalong echoed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s declaration that there is no chain of command in the police force.
“Kung babasahin nyo yung [If you read the[ 2013 fundamental doctrine nandun yung chain of command very clear. It starts with the Chief PNP. The president is not (included). Ano’ng liability nya? Wala (What is his liability? None),” Magalong, also the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said.
The official added that it is up to the people to interpret or judge the BOI report.
The 130-page report said Aquino gave the go signal to execute what it described as a defective Oplan Exodus and allowed resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima to participate in the planning and execution of the anti-terrorist mission even if he had been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Forty-four members of the Special Action Force were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) when they launched the operation to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman on January 25.
According to the BOI, the Oplan “can never be executed because it was defective from the very beginning.”
The BOI said Aquino “exercised his prerogative” to deal directly with suspended SAF chief Getulio Napeñas instead of Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the Officer-in-Charge of the PNP. It noted that while the president has the prerogative to deal directly with any of his subordinates, dealing with Napeñas bypassed the established PNP Chain of Command.
But Magalong said that even after meeting with Aquino, the BOI will not change its findings.
“We will stand by it. We stood our ground,” the police official said.