“You only get betrayed by the people you trust.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd made the statement in a meeting with his top 30 allies in the House of Representatives amid the heat that he has to endure as a result of the tragic Mamasapano operation involving his suspended long-time aide, Alan Purisima.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Ad Hoc panel on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), on Tueday revealed that Aquino explained to lawmakers in PowerPoint slides, how Purisima lied to him in text messages, saying the military’s mechanized artillery were already helping Special Action Force (SAF) commandos engaged in a firefight around 8 a.m. of Jan. 25.
A little later, Aquino said, he was made to believe that the SAF commandos were being extricated from the area after gunning down top-ranked terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
“Purisima told the President that the artillery was there to help the SAF, and then the extrication. Apparently, the enforcement is only available, but they are not helping the SAF yet at the time [of Purisima’s text message]. The President said he was lied to by Purisima and that Napeñas disobeyed his order to inform Espina of the Mamasapano operation,” Rodriguez said in a news conference.
He was referring to sacked SAF chief Getulio Napeñas, who has admitted to reporting directly to Purisima—who was suspended on plunder charges—instead of PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina.
Rodriguez described the President’s meeting with the lawmakers on Monday as “cordial and open-forum type,” which allowed each lawmaker present to quiz the President about the Mamasapano carnage.
“The President said he became aware of the lies [by Purisima]in the afternoon, around 4 to 6 p.m. when the number of SAF casualties started coming in. The way I see it, he felt he was betrayed by Purisima,” the lawmaker said.
“If the military’s mechanized artillery were there and the extrication was in place as claimed, the soldiers could have easily defeated the MILF,” Rodriguez added.
The President’s other allies insisted that Aquino should not be faulted for consulting the suspended Purisima on the Mamasapano operation.
Liberal Party congressmen Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro and Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) believed that while Purisima was suspended, the President can seek his advice, like he can ask the advice of any other individual.
“If I am the superior and I’m going to ask my unit to do something, I will not give somebody who is suspended the authority to implement whatever has to be done. I can ask him for advice because he knows things, but the decision [to follow him or not]is mine,” Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief, said at the Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum.
The President was quoted as saying that Purisima was the one who worked and provided intelligence reports on Marwan.
“I doubt if there are legal implications [on the Ombudsman’s suspension of Purisima]. An advice will depend on the knowledge of that particular person being sought advice from, and Purisima knows a lot about the Marwan operation,” Umali said.
“Besides, the President’s order on Purisima is to inform [PNP-OIC Leonardo] Espina [of the Mamasapano operation]. He did not order Purisima to take charge. What he did order was for Purisima to inform Espina and to coordinate,” he added.
Meanwhile, Purisima admitted that the President ordered him to inform Espina about Oplan Exodus before the mission was carried out. But he did not.
Speaking at the resumption of Senate hearings on the Mamasapano massacre, he confirmed that Aquino instructed him to inform Espina of the operation since he is the head of the PNP.
“I informed Police Deputy Director Espina on the morning of January 25. I confirmed that the order was given to me by the President,” Purisima said in response to a question of Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Drilon pointed out that Purisima, who was suspended at the time, only informed the acting PNP chief when members of the SAF were already in the area and engaged in a firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Oplan Exodus was kept secret from Espina and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
They only learned about it several hours after the mission was launched.
Espina said he came to know about the Mamasapano operation around 5:30 a.m. on January 25 when Purisima called and informed him that the SAF commandos have already killed Malaysian terrorist Marwan.