LIBERAL Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II is confident that he’s got the complete trust of President Benigno Aquino III – the primary endorser of his 2016 presidential bid.
Roxas made this response after his rival, independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe, questioned how much the President really trusts Roxas, considering that he was left out of the loop during the Jan. 2015 Mamasapano operation meant to neutralize an international terrorist.
The Mamasapano operation killed bomber Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” but at least 44 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) were also killed later, when they were ambushed by the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and rebel groups. The SAF men were so brutally murdered that they suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the head and body.
Instead of informing Roxas, who was then the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Aquino instead allowed his trusted ally and then-suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima to take the lead in the Mamasapano operations.
“Senator Grace said the President does not trust me and that’s why the President did not inform me about Mamasapano,” Roxas said during Sunday’s second leg of the Presidential Debate, organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and held at the University of the Philippines, in the central Philippine city of Cebu. “That’s illogical. If the President does not trust me, why would the President endorse me [as his successor?]?”
Roxas argued that the President had thought that Purisima had kept him abreast of the operations, since the PNP is under the supervision of the DILG.
Roxas, meanwhile, trumpeted the success of the Sept. 2013 Zamboanga operation, where 12 civilian were killed after rebel Nur Misuari and his comrades tried to take over the city by using hostages. He said it was the government’s surgical tactic that led to the rescue of at least 200 hostages, rather than haphazardly dropping bombs in the area to kill the 500-strong Misuari-led rebels.
Aquino and Roxas had initially recruited Poe to be Roxas’s running mate, but Poe refused the offer. LLANESCA PANTI