HAD President Benigno Aquino 3rd observed standard operating procedure (SOP) in launching police operations like Oplan Exodus, the 44 police commandos slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, would still be alive today, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.
“It was very clear that because the President disregarded the procedures in the planning and execution of the operation and chain of command, the massacre happened,” Marcos noted in an interview after his consultation with local officials of Marikina City (Metro Manila).
He said although no bombshell was dropped during the reopening of the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano bloodbath, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was able to show more clearly the role played by Aquino in the operation and how he handled it.
Marcos added that the main focus of reopening the Senate investigation was to find out what really happened and Enrile was able to accomplish it.
“Clearly, there was a lack of coordination brought by the decision of the President to keep the operation secret to other officials of government even to the officer-in-charge of the PNP [Philippine National Police],” he pointed out.
Cabinet and security officials present during the hearing claimed that Aquino was not aware of the real situation of the SAF troops deployed in Maguindanao to capture suspected terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, because no clear information reached him that day.
But Marcos maintained that it was unlikely for Aquino not to get information regarding the status of the operation and the condition of the troops.
“There were text messages and exchanges of information among Cabinet and security officials as early as 5 a.m. that day, and they were even discussing it,” he said.
Marcos also noted that if the President did not know what was happening on January 25, 2015, it would only mean that he was not monitoring the operation that he put in place without the knowledge of the police and the military.
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Escudero still sees finger-pointing among officials one year after the bloodbath.
He said the hearing on Wednesday highlighted the lack of intelligence, poor planning and coordination and failure of communications between and among government agencies.
Malacañang maintained that Aquino was vindicated in the last Senate hearing because it was established that former Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napenas was solely responsible for mishandling Oplan Exodus.
“Senator Enrile’s allegations were effectively responded to and belied in [Wednesday’s] hearing. It was established that Director Napenas lacked situational awareness involving his troops in Mamasapano and the serious lack of coordination between him and the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] led to the deaths of the SAF 44,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a news briefing.
According to the official, even Enrile’s eight-point summary that purportedly indicated the President’s culpability fizzled out.
“He wanted to show that the President was responsible for the high number of casualties but in government’s view, it was brought about by the actuations and judgment of former SAF director Napenas in his capacity as the commander of the operations of Oplan Exodus,” Coloma explained.
The Palace official also listed the former SAF commander’s follies.
“First, he did not coordinate, second, he did not abort the operations when the conditions were clear that it should have been aborted and he failed to sufficiently factored in the safety of his troops because of his lack of situational awareness. He was not prepared to lead his men. He did not have a mindset of a commander seriously concerned with the welfare of his troops,” Coloma said.