SAF Maguindanao massacre: Who gave the order for Oplan Wolverine?


LIKE the millions of our fellow Filipinos, I am very much affected by the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops who were involved in a covert police operation in Maguindanao to arrest two notorious terrorists involved in deadly bombings. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) puts the death toll of the SAF members higher at 64, which is more disturbing because it is 20 more deaths among the nation’s supposedly elite police force.

So many SAF troops did not have to die in the performance of their duties. Their demise was unnecessary. I deeply condole with the families of the fallen heroes who died last Sunday and share their pain and grief. It is for this reason why I am writing this article: Justice for them!

Two things happened for the first time in the history of the Philippine National Police (PNP), including its precursor, the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), as the fiasco of Oplan Wolverine unfolded. First, it was the first time that a major police operation did not pass through the PNP chain of command. Second, the number of fatalities – 44 or 64 – of the SAF commandos is the biggest in police history.

Oplan Wolverine, the name given to the special police operation to capture the terrorists, Marwan (Malaysian) and Usman (Filipino), was prepared by the Office of the Director of Intelligence (DI) of the PNP as early as 2011. The plan was later endorsed by the Office of the PNP Chief Alan Purisima during the same year to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) under Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. for “additional support.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 29, 2015)
In the beginning, “all operations related to the plan were jointly undertaken by the PNP and the military (AFP),” the Inquirer reported. The plan was not revised even after the suspension of Purisima last year by the Office of the Ombudsman on charges of corruption. When the covert police operation was finally implemented last Sunday, January 25, it involved the deployment of 392 United States-trained SAF troops.

Bypass of PNP chain of command

What is astonishing with Oplan Wolverine, which involved close to 400 elite police commandos, is that SAF Commander Getulio Napeñas did not inform his superior, PNP Deputy Director General and Officer-in-Charge Leonardo A. Espina, let alone seek his approval of their operation in Maguindanao to arrest the two most wanted terrorists. The FBI has put $6.0 million and $3.0 million rewards, respectively, for their capture.

Police Director Napeñas, who has the equivalent rank of a two-star general in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, admitted last Tuesday that he did not coordinate with the military before the launch of the failed SAF operation of the PNP. This is rather curious because the SAF commander knew that their area of operations in Mamasapano town has been under the control of the MILF with their three base camps there: the 105th, 106th and the 118th.

The SAF chief explained that it was a “command decision – I decided that it was best not to inform the other units of the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines about the plan of initiating the actual assault.” He added that it was a “judgement call (on his part) and will take full responsibility” for his action. His justification for his decision is that “we had been working on it for a long time (since 2013).” (Inquirer, Jan 29, 2015)

In an interview last Wednesday with ANC News on the same day as the delivery of the speech of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, PNP Officer-in-Charge Espino remarked that he was informed of Oplan Wolverine “after the fact.” This is consistent with the revelation of Police Director Napeñas that he first informed Espina through a text message about their operation at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday. Napeñas later made a call to his superior after the text.

In his own words, the SAF Commander told the PNP Officer-in-Charge that the “operation against Marwan was under way.” And true enough it was “after the fact:” Napeñas told Espina that “we were already there and the troops were already deployed.” The 392 commandos were positioned and divided into groups as early as 3:00 a.m! It was at 4:20 a.m. when the assault team entered the nipa hut where Marwan was sleeping.

Thus, it is confirmed by Police Director Nepañes himself that he did not coordinate with the military (AFP) and also did not inform his own superior: the PNP Chief. So what really made him launch Oplan Wolverine with its pyrrhic success that cost the lives of at least 44 SAF commandos, if not 64 as estimated by no less than the MILF?

Why did he take the bold initiative which may now also cost him his successful career with the PNP?

Who gave the Mission Order?

My wife and I watched the speech of President B. S. Aquino 3rd last Wednesday. As expected, it was very disappointing. PNoy did not say much that we already didn’t know based on what had been reported in the newspapers. The only added value was the “context” of the operations of SAF in serving the outstanding warrants of arrest for Marwan and Usman on accusations that they were terrorist-bombers. He elaborated on the terrorist activities of Marwan, starting with the Bali bombings in 2002 that killed more than 200 persons.

President B.S. Aquino 3rd is really good in not telling the truth. After four years and seven months in office, he now appears to be an expert on presidential prevarications.

The Big Question that he did NOT answer in his speech and the open forum with the press is, who gave the Mission Order for the SAF operations in Maguindanao in Mindanao?

A day or two before the presidential speech last Wednesday, PNP Officer-in-Charge Espina revealed that Oplan Wolverine has not reached the “Command Group.” In short, nobody up in the chain of command in the PNP knew about it. Yet, during the open forum, PNoy prevaricated when journalists asked him if he gave the order to execute the police operation. He equivocated with his reply to effectively mean he did not!

So who really gave the Mission Order for the special operations of the SAF involving 392 commandos to proceed? How could an operation involving almost 400 elite police troops not pass through the PNP Chain of Command? Not even the Secretary of the Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG) knew about it!

In spite of his claim to the contrary, the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief must have given approval to Oplan Wolverine, or he must have been at least informed by his Executive Secretary, Ochoa, who heads the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) and tacitly approved the plan. PNoy cannot say it was just a routine police operation that did not need his approval. This is the biggest police operation, involving nearly 400 armed troopers!

President BS Aquino 3rd should STOP LYING to the Filipino people and the world. If not, then perhaps it is time that the puerile president is removed from office.


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  1. Roldan Guerrero on

    It is now confirmed that BSA was in Zamboanga while the incident happened. A day before the operation took effect he is already in Zamboanga City purposely to monitor and wait for the success of the operation as he wants to be the first to know, the 2 terrorist are already captured. It is also confirmed that Purisima took control of command for the operation, such that if succesful….he could get out of charges on the cases in which his suspension emerged. One more thing BSA is obscessed of receiving Nobel Peace Award that is why he is also forcing for a railroaded enactment of the BBL.But what happened? “PALPAK” at “BULILYASO”, “SABLAY NA NAMAN ANG DAKILANG PANGULO”. What is unacceptable is his deed of sacrificing so many lives just to get what he wants, whatever is the cost! He will never accept responsibility of the mess, it is his nature, HE IS BORN A NATURAL LIAR and GREW PROFESSIONALLY with it. HE DESERVES TO BE EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUADS CONSISTING ATLEAST 44 SAF ELEMENTS!

  2. Why were they trying to serve a warrant on the terrorists anyway? Someone please answer this question for me. I realize these were specially trained men, but I’m thinking what is the military for.

  3. Kawawa tayong mga filipino dahil lang sa isang Presidente who can not decide and take command responsibility. Sana mabigyan nang hustisya ang 44 o 64 na pamilya
    na naulila. Pwede ba natin bigyan sila ng PDAP o kaya DAP assistance siguro hindi papayag si ABAD, at DILG ROXAS,

  4. i am also saddened with what happened to the young and brave policemen who were killed. kahit sinong ordinaryong mamamayan makapag-isip ano ba ang ginawa ng ating gobyerno lalo na si pres. aquino. what about his cabinet members, the congressmen and the senators. bakit tahimik lang sina trillanes, pimentel at cayetano at drillon. sana ito ang priority nila ma solve ang problema sa mindanao. not running after the Binays- sa korte na sana yong kay binay. tanong ko lang bakit may issue na ma involve ang mga allies ni aquino, obvious na shielded sila ng administrasyong ito. si delima where na ? ano ang masasabi niya ? gusto ng karamihang pilipino marinig sa bibig ni aquino na e condemn niya ang MILF sa nangayaring patayan.sayang lang pres aquino ang trust na ibinigay ng mga Pilipino sa yo. dami mo nang ginawa na nagpakita how immature, selfish and vindictive leader you are. opinyon ko lang, imposible rin na walang knowledge si mar roxas sa nangyaring operasyon. as dilg alam niya yan.di ba he was also in zamboanga with the president? or is it protektahan ang image niya ng kanyang mga kasamahan para sa 2016 election?

    • iamwell bungari on

      Cayetano withdrew his signature as a co-author of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He might even resign as Majority Floor Leader of the Senate, in disgust. In effect, what he said was that wala pa nga ang batas nagpakita na ng katarantaduhan and MILF, paano pa kaya kung sila na ang nasa pwesto. Kahit Pangulo maaari na nilang ichapwerahin.

  5. When will we ever learn?

    US training is no good for us. US missions entail massive logistical and tactical support that we don’t have.

  6. Panay ang satsat nito’ng Ungas na Penoy kung ano daw ang mga pinagdaanan daw nila, nang kanilang ama, letcetera, letcetera, letcetera…sa harap nang mga labi nito’ng 44 na mga bangkay na ipinain sa kamatayan. Pero hindi niya masabi sabi kung sino ang mga MAS MALALAKI na mga TAO, at mas MATAAS na mga ranking na mga AFP/PnP officials, maliban kina DILG Boss at PnP OIC.

    iyon lang naman, To quote the Idiot President: ‘The truth will set you free”, wika niya sa speech nang Wednesday. Unless, his version of Truth is a TWISTED and CONVULUTED version…and that will imprison himself even deeper within himself. But will NOT admit – because he is a Bigtime LIAR. Even to himself.

  7. It is really time for Filipinos to reflect and think on how this especial child can be removed and replace by someone who can bring this country back to be respectable and peaceful place to live

    • i have a special child-nephew, an autistic. most special child I know them have hearts, pure hearts precisely because they have their own world. i take offense at this reference. I think PNoy severely lacks empathy, and lies through his teeth. My nephew doesn’t. He doesn’t know how. Just stick to the point of your argument. Thank you.

  8. Ang presidenteng maski minsan di umamin ng kasalanan, binigyan ng katuwiran ang pagkamatay ng 44 SAF, dahil sa warrant of arrest? Maski mamatay na ang mga 44 SAF ok lang? Ngayon plano naman gawin din sa isa pang wanted ? Sana ibigay sa familia ng namatay ang $5 million dollars na makukuha as reward money from US.
    Purisima and Aquino shame on you two!!!!

  9. It goes beyond immaturity or being puerile. He is a psychopath who poses a real danger to our society. As defined by, a psychopath is a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc. One of the characteristic of a psychopath is pathological lying.

    • Those kids who died in line of duty, are supposed to bury their parents and not the other way around. It’s time time to annihilate the morons and the idiots in the palace.

  10. There is no chain of command broken here, only the palace who want us to believe to save Mar Roxas political future. If Indeed Mar Roxas was really by bypass and knowing his tantrums he would resign last Monday. Wag tayong maging tanga sa gusto ni Pnoy. It is only General Espina who we can give the benefit of doubt because Allan Purisima is still in control Camp Crame as he did not vacate the White House which has access to communications equipment of the entire PNP command. One thing is sure when the operation went sour in Mamanpasano, Pnoy got so scarred that he forgot to call the Army battalion commander in the nearby town to muscle their cannons so a rescue can be made. Akala ni Pnoy it was computer games so he turned off the system in place.

  11. First the police who died, were not at fault. Considering the result, the operational plan and the contingency plans were criminally neglectful. No one who approved this plan should ever be allowed to be in any public or private organization. They must spend the rest of their days in prison, along with the MILF/Biff killers.

  12. It is very unfortunate that we Filipinos have insensitive,liar,and a president who have the propensity of pointing fingers in all his failures. The fallen Heroes of PNP SAF Killes in Action and Wounded in Action alike deserve justice. With Police Operation of such magnitude,it is highly improbable for the PNP SAF Director to mobilize 400 Officers and Men for a delicate mission without the approval of higher authorities.The President explicitly admitted he have knowledge of the operation,but refused to take the responsibility.We all deserve to know the truth behind this tragic incident,The Operational Plan must be presented including the Extraction . Who denied the reinforcement request of the troops and Why? TO THE FALLEN HEROES KIA AND WIA ALIKE WE SALUTE YOU FOR YOUR GALLANTRY FOR KNOWING TO DIE SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE . . . and to the fellow who betrayed our heroes may your family be extinct so that betrayal as such will not be duplicated. . .

  13. chthonic monster on

    most likely here’s what the order was; “go fight a war but don’t win it”!
    “ours not to reason why, ours but to do or die”!

  14. The president is still living in his world of make-believe. Being a PSP enthusiast, he must have played war games which filled his mind as a child. It is highly probable that he aurhorized that Mamasapano operation by the SAF and being a very proud and overly self-confident on his fantasy, he failed to develop a realistic tactical plan that will involve all perceived possibilites. He likewise totally depend on his disgraced PNP director, whose combat experience is questionable, to address the details. Given the fact that Purisima is already out of the loop in the chain of command, naturally he could not officially coordinate with his superiors, the OIC-PNP Director, the AFP local command, etc. These factors Aquino did not consider and why, the reason is obvious. So the mission was predestined for a rout. But the biggest rout is the disregard of TRUTH. The author of the operation will never allow for its revelation and probably work for its suppression. Because he is hopelessly self-righteous and arrogant.

  15. Anima A. Agrava on

    Very very sad and tragic for us Filipinos to have this evil president, Mr. R. B. Ramos. Yes, it is time for him to RESIGN as demanded by many decent Filipinos and by Catholic and Protestant and Muslim bishops, churchmen and Imams.

  16. We have a PCOS installed President.
    He is not only heartless – machine do not have a heart
    like a computer. He is also a LIAR.

    Let the rest of the SAF take him out of Malacanang.
    It is time that that Robot President leave Malacanang.

    I have the feeling that this whole scenario is known by the
    Pentagon. Why more arrival of U.S. Naval Ships at Olongapo?

    This is a repeat when the People Power during Marcos.
    “What comes around goes around”.

  17. It doesn’t matter much to me who gave the green light for this mission, what I want to know is who was responsible for its planning and preparation. Who was the operations officer, was it Napenas himself or Purisima? Why did the men get caught in the open and surrounded on all sides, and did they not know where the enemy was and how many? Were they all bunched together making for an ideal target inside the kill zone and if so who was responsible for this horrific error? Aren’t these soldiers trained to avoid an ambush and how to maneuver in the field under fire? There are many fundamental questions from which future missions must learn to avoid a similar debacle. Never mind the civilian retardates in the government, are our military officers up to the task of learning from this our version of Custer’s Last Stand?

    • The SAF Commander knew that their operations is in the area under the control of the MILF that has THREE base camps there: 105t, 106th and 118th. The primary group that went for the extraction of the high-value target (Marwan) was composed of 37 commandos with “only’ EIGHT casualties. The other 36 fatalities came from the bigger secondary or containment group that was to block any resistance from the MILF and BIFF and “private army” as P-Noy calls it. They were more than 350 SAF troops. The problem was they run out of ammunition after more 10 hours of firefight. The SAF is NOT equipped for protracted warefare like the Philippine ARMY. The ARMY were NOT able to help for two: First, they claim they did not where the fighting even though it was just within 5 kms radius from the scene. Second, the ARMY would and could not help since there were efefctively two Chain of Command in the PNP: the suspended PNP Chief Purisima and the PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina.

  18. It seems that the operation was centered on the “bounty” on the ‘heads’ of the ‘bombers’. Has anyone thought of how bounties, like this, are being distributed?

    Does the bounty go to the government’s coffer; how are they accounted for; who determines who finally gets and how much? How come Purisima was involved, but not Roxas?

    I learned from a reliable source that there were times when similar operations are being done to justify some allowances for members of the operations. But, this time the bounty is in the millions of dollars.


    • I believe it is time that we invite Andrea Bocelli to Malacañang and sing ” Time to Say GoodBye!” to President B. S. Aquino III.