PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

THE ONGOING MAMASAPANO SENATE PROBE

INQUIRER EDITORIAL: LAUGHING AT MINDANAO


At a forum on the Mamasapano incident held in Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro over the weekend, the irresponsible fulminations of born-again, all-out warrior Alan Peter Cayetano, the senator from Taguig City, were a subject of discussion. He had notoriously justified his aggressive questioning of the conduct of the police raid in one Senate hearing with the words: “I am not an expert but I watch the movies.” At the Cagayan de Oro forum, a respected local journalist raised the question: Are we going back to all-out war because Senator Cayetano has watched a few movies? The response from the audience was precious: derisive laughter. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO TRANSCRIPT DAY 4: Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash, February 23


DID HE MISLEAD AQUINO? Resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima testifies at the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Questions on whether resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisiman had misled President Benigno Aquino III on operational details of the January 25 clash in Mamasapano surfaced at the resumption of the Senate probe into the incident on Monday, February 23. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Day 5 of the public Senate investigation on the clash between PNP-SAF commandos and rebel forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao


In an earlier interview, Napeñas said Purisima was calling the shots during the SAF operations despite being suspended over corruption allegations pending before the Ombudsman. On the first hearing day, Napeñas admitted giving the go-signal to mobilize the SAF troops in Mamasapano, but was acting upon the orders of Purisima, whose text messages he read during the hearing. - The former police chief denied giving orders, saying he was merely dispensing "advice."  The Philippine Senate continues to hold a public hearing on the clash between members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) and rebel forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25. The SAF was on a high-level mission to neutralize top terrorists and bomb-makers Zulkifli bin Hir (alias “Marwan”) and Abdul Basit Usman. READ MORE...

ALSO Senate: Nancy chides Mar over statements


TIMELINE. A file photo of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas during a Senate hearing on February 23. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler TIMELINE. A file photo of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas during a Senate hearing on February 23. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay chided Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II over his confusing statements on the timeline of his reports to President Benigno Aquino III on the bloody Mamasapano clash. Roxas is the presumed rival of her father Vice President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 presidential polls. READ FULL REPORT BY RAPPLER.COM...

ALSO: General turns emotional at Mamasapano hearing


EMOTIONAL GENERAL Major General Edmundo Pangilinan (right), commander of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, is on the verge of tears on Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash when the Armed Forces was again blamed for supposedly failing to provide early assistance to police commandos from the Special Action Force. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
The commander of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) turned emotional on Tuesday at the resumption of a Senate committee hearing on the Mamasapano clash, after the military was again blamed for supposedly failing to provide early assistance to police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF). READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: No SAF information from Aquino—Roxas



The script to shield President Aquino from accountability in the Mamasapano tragedy took a radical shift as Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told Senate probers yesterday that Aquino gave no information about the incident on Jan. 25 to anybody since he did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. The Senate probers then pinned the blame on relieved Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima for not properly apprising Aquino of the real situation then. Roxas, at yesterday’s continuing Senate hearing on the Mamasapano incident, claimed he was told of the gravity of the situation when it was already late in the afternoon of Jan. 25 or more than 10 hours since the SAF were engaged in heavy fighting with Moro rebels. He did not say if the information came from Aquino or anybody else.READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Poe: Mamasapano raid ‘poorly’ planned, doomed by leadership breakdown


SENATE PROBE CHAIRMAN ---MANILA, Philippines – The Senate investigation on the Mamasapano operation showed that it was “poorly” planned and that there was an “undeniable breakdown” of leadership and command and control in the Philippine National Police (PNP), Senator Grace Poe said on Tuesday. Poe, head of the Senate committee on public order, made this assessment as she adjourned the proceedings after holding five public hearings and five executive sessions. “It appears that the operation was poorly planned from the start to make matters worse, there was an undeniable breakdown of both leadership and command and control in the PNP,” she said before adjourning the hearing Tuesday. “Information about Operation Exodus was deliberately withheld from the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and the officer-in-charge of the PNP. Ito po ay malinaw. Umpisa pa lang, ‘yun na ang ating pinag-usapan,” the senator said, referring to Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy knew early, but was given wrong information


Hearing on the 44. Resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima is shown with Eduardo Oban, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, during the continuation of the Senate hearing on the encounter between Muslim rebels and Police commandoes in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25 that resulted in the death of 44 police commandos. With them are Foreignb Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. Lino Santos-- KEY REVELATIONS: RESIGNED police chief Alan Purisima had told President Benigno Aquino III that armored units and artillery were already reinforcing the beleaguered police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, when no such help was on the way yet, text messages between the two officials show. The text messages, read aloud before the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano operation in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed, also showed that the President continued to give orders to Purisima, even though he was already suspended by the Ombudsman on corruption charges. Purisima, in turn, continued to give orders to SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, who was the ground commander of the covert operation. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Laughing in Mindanao

MANILA, MARCH 2, 2015 (INQUIRER) At a forum on the Mamasapano incident held in Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro over the weekend, the irresponsible fulminations of born-again, all-out warrior Alan Peter Cayetano, the senator from Taguig City, were a subject of discussion.

He had notoriously justified his aggressive questioning of the conduct of the police raid in one Senate hearing with the words: “I am not an expert but I watch the movies.”

At the Cagayan de Oro forum, a respected local journalist raised the question: Are we going back to all-out war because Senator Cayetano has watched a few movies? The response from the audience was precious: derisive laughter.

Precious, but also pity-inducing; laughter, after all, is the weapon of the weak.

Here is the reality: The cornfields of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, are about 1,600 kilometers from the concrete streets of Metro Manila, but it is in the National Capital Region (NCR) where the meaning of the day-long series of armed encounters on Jan. 25, which left 44 Special Action Force troopers, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front regulars and at least five civilians dead, is in large part being defined.

This imbalance is a consequence of the country’s power structure.

The government institutions investigating the Mamasapano incident are all based in the NCR; the main news organizations reporting on the developing story and even the foreign news agencies are headquartered in the region; the usual means of access to power, and with it the capacity to influence public opinion, are mostly found within Metro Manila.

Even the common assumption, articulated most fervently by some of the grieving and aggrieved widows of the SAF troopers, that President Aquino could have done something more to save the elite police, is based on the premise that it is “Imperial Manila” (as many in the provinces refer facetiously or seriously to the capital) that really calls the shots. (We realize that the President was in Zamboanga City on that day, but in the popular understanding, the presidency represents the full power of the capital.)

Cayetano has certainly remained unapologetic.

He was at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City over the weekend, practicing his “either-or” language of exclusion. “You do not negotiate with terrorists. So the MILF has to choose. Gusto niyo ng BBL, talikuran niyo ang terorismo. Kung hindi mo tatalikuran ang terorismo, pupulbusin lang kayo ng Republika ng Pilipinas (You want the Bangsamoro Basic Law, you turn your back on terrorism. If you don’t turn your back on terrorism, the Republic of the Philippines will just pulverize you).”

The MILF has some real explaining to do, about its role in the Jan. 25 incident; whether its men were involved in the brutal killing of defenseless, wounded troopers; how the Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, could have resided within sight of MILF positions for extended periods without the government, its partner in the peace process, being notified.

But Cayetano has glibly moved from still-to-be-proven charges of terrorist-coddling to a blithe declaration of war. It is that little speech tic, the “lang” that found its way into his posturing, that tells the millions of Filipinos weary of the long-running conflict in parts of Mindanao that Cayetano truly knows nothing about the reality of war. The Republic “will just pulverize you”—as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

Perhaps we need our senators and congressmen to spend more time in the affected parts of Mindanao—not only in generally safe cities like Cagayan de Oro, where a Marwan bomb ripped through a crowded commercial district just two years ago, but also in Maguindanao, or the Zamboanga peninsula, or Basilan, or many other places that still bear the scars of war.

Perhaps we need our influential TV anchors and radio hosts to visit often with the “bakwit,” the evacuees displaced by armed encounters, including the thousand or so who fled Mamasapano on Jan. 25, to see what happens to fellow Filipinos when one group “just” pulverizes another.

Perhaps, above all, we need more voices from Mindanao, especially from the parts long embroiled in conflict, to be heard in the capital region. That way, the pained laughter born of experience can help expose the movies in our mind.


RAPPLER.COM

TRANSCRIPT: Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash, February 23

Transcript of Day 4 of the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash, which claimed at least 65 casualties, including 44 police commandos Rappler.com Published 11:55 AM, Feb 24, 2015 Updated 11:55 AM, Feb 24, 2015


DID HE MISLEAD AQUINO? Resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima testifies at the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Questions on whether resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisiman had misled President Benigno Aquino III on operational details of the January 25 clash in Mamasapano surfaced at the resumption of the Senate probe into the incident on Monday, February 23.

During the hearing, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the President may have been satisfied with Purisima's reports via text messages that the military has already deployed its assets to help the Special Action Force troopers on the morning of January 25. (READ: SAF asked the military for fire support)

Several senators, including Senate committee on public order chairman Grace Poe shared, shared the sentiment.

The text messages were first divulged in an executive session. Poe said the committee decided to release them, noting that it will be good for Aquino. (Poe: Releasing Purisima testimony good for Aqino; However, the accounts of the SAF survivors and PNP Intelligence Director Fernando Mendez in an executive session will remain secret) READ FULL REPORT HERE:

During the hearing, Purisima himself admitted to senators that he was the one who informed the President of what was happening on the ground, despite his suspension at the time over graft charges.

In a series of text messages between Purisima and Aquino, which was presented to the Senate, it became clear that Purisima was the link between the President and the Special Action Force (SAF) command in the early hours of the clash on January 25.

While Purisima had an exchange of text messages with Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero on the morning of the clash, the latter lamented that there was no prior coordination with the military.

“Kung nasabihan kami (If we had been told) earlier, I could have deployed air assets a day before. No coordination was made with us,” said Guerrero.

AS IT HAPPENS: Senate hearing on PNP-SAF Mamasapano clash, Day 5

Day 5 of the public Senate investigation on the clash between PNP-SAF commandos and rebel forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Rappler.com Published 9:36 AM, Feb 24, 2015 Updated 4:18 PM, Feb 24, 2015

The Philippine Senate continues to hold a public hearing on the clash between members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) and rebel forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.

The SAF was on a high-level mission to neutralize top terrorists and bomb-makers Zulkifli bin Hir (alias “Marwan”) and Abdul Basit Usman.

A total of 44 elite cops died in the carnage, causing public outrage and nationwide mourning. Eighteen MILF fighters were also killed during the firefight, along with several civilians.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, along with the committee on peace and unification, presided over the hearing.

Representatives from the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and officials involved in the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front attended.

Among those who attended were former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who resigned from his post as police chief on February 6, and Chief Superintendent Getulio Napeñas, who was sacked from his position as SAF commander.

In an earlier interview, Napeñas said Purisima was calling the shots during the SAF operations despite being suspended over corruption allegations pending before the Ombudsman. On the first hearing day, Napeñas admitted giving the go-signal to mobilize the SAF troops in Mamasapano, but was acting upon the orders of Purisima, whose text messages he read during the hearing.

The former police chief denied giving orders, saying he was merely dispensing "advice."

Purisima was issued a preventive suspension in December 2014.

Watch the continuing saga of the Senate public hearings here. Rappler.com


RAPPLER.COM

Senate: Nancy chides Mar over statements Carmela Fonbuena Published 1:57 PM, Feb 24, 2015 Updated 1:57 PM, Feb 24, 2015

At the resumption of the Senate probe into the Mamasapano incident, Senator Nancy Binay questions Secretary Mar Roxas' recollection of events on January 25

 

TIMELINE. A file photo of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas during a Senate hearing on February 23. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler TIMELINE. A file photo of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas during a Senate hearing on February 23. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay chided Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II over his confusing statements on the timeline of his reports to President Benigno Aquino III on the bloody Mamasapano clash. Roxas is the presumed rival of her father Vice President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 presidential polls.

“A gentle reminder,” Binay said at the resumption of the Senate probe into the incident on Tuesday, February 24. “I asked you in the last hearing if you informed the President. Hindi kayo nakasagot. Yesterday, nabanggit niyo na-text niyo pala ang President ng 8 am,” Binay continued. (You failed to answer my question in last week's hearing. But yesterday you said you were in touch with the President that day.)

Roxas was visibly offended. He replied to the senator: "I have been and will always tell the truth. I did not commit what you are implying in your statement,” he began.

“I said, I do not recall. Let me reconstruct my text messages,’ which I then reported to the Senate floor yesterday,” he continued.

Binay then asked Roxas if the President replied to him after the 8am text message. Aquino said “thank you,” according to Roxas.

In the previous hearing, Binay asked who informed Aquino about the Mamasapano incident on January 25. Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr, and Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lieutenant Rustico Guerrero – all whom were with the President in Zamboanga that day – were stumped.

On Tuesday, Binay said she thinks they failed in providing the President the necessary information that would have allowed him to properly assess the situation.

“Lumalabas ngayon na the President was not properly informed. Sino ang may responsibility to tell the President ano nangyayari sa Mamasapano?,” Binay asked.

Roxas again lamented the line of questioning. He reminded the senator that he and the military generals did not know about the operation because they were kept out of the loop. “Masasabi lang namin kung ano alam namin. We were cut out. Ano ma-re-report namin,” Roxas replied.

Roxas said that it was only at 3 pm on January 25 that they began to appreciate the gravity of the situation after they received confirmation of reports that over 20 SAF commandos had died.

Roxas said this was when he approached the President. They were joined by Gazmin and Guerrero in a huddle in a hospital in Zamboanga.

Guerrero said that before this they were preoccupied with briefing the President on the situation in Zamboanga, where a car exploded a day earlier.

He said it was at 11 am when the President asked him about the situation in western Mindanao. He relayed what he knew: that clashes broke out in Mamasapano at 5 am and that he directed 6th Infantry Division Commander Eduardo Pangilinan to support the SAF. Gazmin and Roxas were also in the room when he talked to the President.

“I was called by the President to a room inside the briefing area of Edwin Adrews Airbase. Tinanong ako, ‘Ano nangyari sa central Mindano?’ Hindi briefing na may charts. I was asked kung ano ang update,” Guerrero said. (The President asked me about what was happening in central Mindanao. It was not a briefing; he just asked for updates.)

Guerrero said he did not have a complete picture of what was happening in Mamasapano at the time. He told the President that the SAF did not coordinate with him.

Like Roxas, it was also around 3pm when Guerrero received a report from Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities Brigadier General Carlito Galvez about massive casualties in Mamasapano. It was then when he decided to go inside the hospital, where he found the President, Gazmin, and Roxas in a huddle. “Seryoso na po ang parte na ‘yun kaya po ako umakyat sa hospital para sumunod kay Secretary Gazmin. At that time, nag-uusap na ang tatlo,” said Guerrero. – Rappler.com


MANILA TIMES

General turns emotional at Mamasapano hearing February 24, 2015 11:26 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTER


EMOTIONAL GENERAL Major General Edmundo Pangilinan (right), commander of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, is on the verge of tears on Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash when the Armed Forces was again blamed for supposedly failing to provide early assistance to police commandos from the Special Action Force. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

The commander of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) turned emotional on Tuesday at the resumption of a Senate committee hearing on the Mamasapano clash, after the military was again blamed for supposedly failing to provide early assistance to police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF).

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th ID, was reacting to allegations made by suspended SAF commander Getulio Napenas that the 44 commandos who died in the firefight could have been saved had the military provided the artillery support they had been requesting.

“Your honor, madam chair, I’m thankful that at least our efforts have been recognized. The pain has somehow been eased, but what I can’t accept is that although our efforts have been acknowledged we are still being blamed for the deaths,” Pangilinan said.

Napenas had been asked by Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, to publicly acknowledge assistance provided by the military to the SAF team on January 25.

He initially dismissed recent media reports saying the AFP did not help the police commandos sent to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan.

Napenas, during the hearing, acknowledged the big help of the military, particularly in providing infantry and mechanized force as well as in helping them rescue members of the 84th SAF who were under heavy fire that day.

“But I would like to clarify that it is not only the military who went there to rescue [the 84th SAF team] but also included were our other SAF troops,” he said.

Napenas then added, however, that have they been provided the artillery support that they have been asking in the morning of Janiuary 25, they could have avoided losing the 44 elite police officers.

“But again, we like to acknowledge the help of the military infantry for providing us the support and also the mechanized brigade,” he said.

Poe, however, was visibly not pleased with Napenas’ statements and reminded the police official that the reason why the committee agreed to conduct an executive session is for them to have a chance to bring out all their sentiments and to put an end to the finger-pointing over the Mamasapano carnage.

She said that the committee is not siding with anyone but if Napenas would say thank you andretaliate with an accusation then the gesture will be for nothing.

It was at this juncture when Pangilinan turned emotional and thanked the relived SAF chief for recognizing their contribution.

“I do not want to be emotional here. Naibigay ko na po sa inyo lahat, (I have given everything),” he said.

“But just the same I thank you sir for recognizing at least that our effort that you think is very little, but for me all the effort were given, were done in order to help you despite not coordinating with us,” Pangilinan added.


TRIBUNE

No SAF information from Aquino—Roxas Written by Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 25 February 2015 00:00

TALINO: NO HEAVY CASUALTIES AS LATE AS 1 PM


Roxas, at yesterday’s continuing Senate hearing on the Mamasapano incident, claimed he was told of the gravity of the situation when it was already late in the afternoon of Jan. 25 or more than 10 hours since the SAF were engaged in heavy fighting with Moro rebels. He did not say if the information came from Aquino or anybody else.

The script to shield President Aquino from accountability in the Mamasapano tragedy took a radical shift as Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told Senate probers yesterday that Aquino gave no information about the incident on Jan. 25 to anybody since he did not appreciate the gravity of the situation.

The Senate probers then pinned the blame on relieved Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima for not properly apprising Aquino of the real situation then.

Roxas, at yesterday’s continuing Senate hearing on the Mamasapano incident, claimed he was told of the gravity of the situation when it was already late in the afternoon of Jan. 25 or more than 10 hours since the SAF were engaged in heavy fighting with Moro rebels.

He did not say if the information came from Aquino or anybody else.


NOT YOU, THEN WHO? Interior Secretary Mar Roxas (center) and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (right) say neither of them told the President about the clashes in Mamasapano. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler COURTESY OF RAPPLER.COM

In a similar Senate hearing last Feb. 12, Sen. Nancy Binay asked –who informed President Aquino that scores of Special Action Force troopers were being killed during the covert operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao while he was in Zamboanga City?”

No one among Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. could answer the question.

Roxas said then that the security officials thought the encounter happening in Mamasapano then was not unusual since skirmishes in Maguindanao with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels were an “ordinary occurence.”

Thus, it was implied that Roxas knew of the incident along with Aquino even on the early part of Jan.25.

Roxas’ new version of what happened during the fateful day of SAF 44’s massacre while Aquino was in Zamboanga City was apparently meant to tie in with a press statement from the Palace that Aquino was fed lies and that resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima and relieved SAF Director Getulio Napeñas did not follow his orders to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Roxas’ new claim of Aquino being silent on the incident was even highlighted by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto in questioning acting SAF Director Chief Supt. Noli Talino on the timeline when Napeñas and his subordinates repeatedly sought reinforcement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Talino said that as late as 1 pm, there were no reports of several casualties among the retreating SAF commandos.

“During the time, at 1pm there was no information of many being killed as reported by our troops on the ground citing only casualties meaning maybe wounded or killed,” Talino said.

Still, the effort to pin down Purisima in taking full responsibility on the Mamasapano incident was evident.

This, Purisima admitted as he reiterated in the Senate hearing that the “responsibility and accountability of Oplan Exodus rests with me because I had delegated that authority to Napeñas.”

Recto noted that between 6 a.m., when the time that Napeñas first sought reinforcement until noontime, the SAF troopers were repeatedly asking for needed assistance and none came.
They were also given the impression that both parties were supposed to be already under a ceasefire by noon time but the Moro rebels continued firing at them, resulting to the death of 44 SAF members.

Roxas and Philippine National Police officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina earlier claimed to have been kept in the dark about the operation as allegedly ordered by resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.

Roxas said that even during the period that Special Action Force (SAF) troopers were engaged in a clash with Muslim rebels, Aquino kept mum on Oplan Exodus to his top security officials and did not, apparently discuss the then increasing tension in Mamasapano when members of the elite police commandos have already been overrun by hostile forces.

Roxas, Gazmin and Catapang along with Aquino flew to Zamboanga City on the morning of Jan. 25 supposedly to inspect the site of the car bomb blast that killed two persons and injured 48.

That was when the timeline on the exchange of information got tangled up since Aquino had claimed that he recived updated communications since Marwan was killed but Roxas and Gazmin said in the previous hearing they did not inform the President that almost a dozen SAF commandos have been killed in the morning because “there was no sense of urgency since he receives encounter report every day.”

“I didn’t inform the President. First of all, SAF and the MILF in Maguindanao to me is an ordinary encounter report, there was no sense of urgency, until the casualties mounted but earlier I was not able to tell them because this is a PNP operation,” Gazmin said.

In the text exchanges between Purisima and Aquino, it showed that the last reply given by the President to the former was around 10:30 am and nothing was heard from the Chief Executive until late in the day.

Drilon then focused on Purisima being apparently on top of the situation during the SAF’s operation against Malaysian terrorist Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan last Jan. 25.

Asked to confirm the information that Purisima was actually under the instructions fom the President to inform his vice, PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina on the Mamasapano operation, Purisima answered in the affirmative.

“Your honor, I informed Police Deputy Gen. Espina on the morning of Jan. 25 and I confirm that the order was given by the President,” Purisima said.

“The order was given to you by the President but you only informed him after the operations was already launched and in fact there was already the clash at 4 a.m. beween the troops and Marwan,” Drilon said in seeking clarification from Purisima, to which the latter confirmed.

Roxas, along with Gazmin and Catapang in replying to the questions posed by Sen. Loren Legarda pointed to Purisima as apparently the one in charge of the whole operation despite the latter being already under suspension due to graft charges.

Napeñas further nailed down Purisima saying that while he was the commander on the ground, the intelligence packet on Marwan emanated from the latter.

“This operation plan Exodus all started when the intelligence (packet on Marwan) was given to me (by Purisima) at 10 a.m. on a Sunday in early Nov. last year, which made him understand there is urgency to undertake the operation,” Napenas said.

In working on Oplan Exodus, it was Purisima who approved of its execution in early December last year.

Tension filled the plenary session hall when Sen. Nancy Binay confronted Roxas on what he knew of the operation at the height of the clash when the DILG chief, in previous hearings, could not answer whether he informed the President on the matter and yet claimed last Monday that he texted Aquino about it around 8 a.m. last Jan. 25.

“When I asked you last time, you did not tell me. It was you whom the President spoke with,” Binay commented, after reminding Roxas to be truthful as he is under oath.

“I have been and always will, tell the truth. I did not commit at anytime what you are implying in your statement madam senator. At the last hearing I said I did not recall so let me reconstruct my text messages. I then reported to the Senate floor yesterday. So in answer to your question, yes the President texted back,” Roxas said.

When asked what was the reply given by Aquino, Roxas said it was a mere “thank you”, adding that there was no further mention of the incident while even when they were already on board en route to Zamboanga City.

“I did not lie. I am telling you what I know,” Roxas, his voice, slightly raised, said.

The DILG chief claimed that he found out the gravity of the situation through a text from a general only at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, explaining further that until that time he was totally in the dark about the operation.

Binay then asked Roxas if the President even tried to discuss the matter to him, he gave this reply: “not to me on that day.”

Roxas noted to Senate probers that there was an overt attempt to keep the matter away even to Espina.

Even Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and Prof. Miriam Ferrer, chairman of the government peace negotiating panel, claimed to have been out of the loop and learned of it around 5 p.m. on that fateful day.

Ferrer said she opted not to inform Deles even if she had ben told of the information early Sunday that intense firefight was already ongoing “because the information was only emerging at 7:30 a.m.”

Former police officer and now Antipolo Rep Romeo Acop, meanwhile, affirmed that Aquino was not given the right information about what was happening in Mamasapano.

According to Acop the president had complained to lawmakers In a briefing in Malacañang the other day that he was not only given inaccurate information, but was fed “lies” regarding the urgency to rescue government troops in the Mamasapano incident.

Aquino made the statement after Acop asked him how he acted after learning that policemen were engaged in a battle with moro rebels.

“The President responded to my question and he told us that he was not only given inaccurate information, there were also lies,” Acop said.

Acop said Aquino first presented their exchanges of text messages with then suspended PNP chief Director General Purisima where he observed that the Chief Executive was given inaccurate information.

Acop said he inquired directly with the President what action he had taken to rescue SAF members.

“I told the President that people are asking what he has done to help SAF members. It turned out based on the exchanges of text messages that he was given wrong information,” said Acop.
In a press conference, Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., who also attended the meeting, agreed with Acop that the story of the President was believable.

“I believe on the narration of him because he is the President, otherwise whom I believe to,” said Barzaga.

Acop said it was clear to him that President Aquino instructed Purisima and Napeñas to coordinate the operation to get Marwan with the military that was disregarded later.
“There were operational lapses because the order of the President was disregarded,” he said.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said the lawmakers who attended the meeting were convinced with the President’s explanation.

“He answered questions from anybody who asked,” said Belmonte.

The controversial operation resulted to the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

Also killed in the incident were 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and three civilians.

Aquino and the Palace seems determined to pin down Purisima as the primary culprit of the Mamasapano tragedy.

In a meeting with House leaders in Malacanang, Aquino had claimed he was “fed with lies” than “inaccurate information,” as claimed by Representative Romeo Acop in a television interview yesterday, in an exchange of information with Purisima via text message on Oplan Exodus.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in an interview with state radio yesterday, said the President has made clear the importance of coordination on the complex operations in Mamasapano and enforcing the warrant again high value terror suspects.

“The President has given clear orders on two things. First, is the importance of coordination on the complicated operation from different angles… And then, the most important coordination is executing law enforcement operation or serving the warrant of arrest against what we call high-value terror suspects which are known to use extreme force or violence,” Coloma said.

The Palace spokesman earlier said that Aquino briefed Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other House leaders on the background of the operations for the capture of wanted terrorists Marwan and Usman, where in the chief executive revealed the exchange of messages between Purisima and him on the operations.

“The President said that he had given specific instructions to Napenas on the need for coordination with the AFP and for Purisima to inform PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina,” he said in an earlier statement. “However, he found out later that these instructions had not been followed.”



Purisima, in Senate inquiries, admitted that he had updated the President of the incident, where earlier, when pressed by Senators to answer, said that he first need to seek clearance from the President before spilling information on who informed the Aquino of the Mamasapano mission all throughout.

Aquino claimed in the meeting that he was apparently informed by Purisima that there were only 15-20 opposing forces that the SAF faced in the operations. In his discussion with congressmen, Aquino had questioned why the SAF, a 160-strong battalion of highly trained police forces, cannot contain a force so little, in reaction to Purisima’s conveyed statement.

On another note, Coloma, at a Palace briefing on the afternoon yesterday, downplayed queries on why Aquino did not instead faced probing bodies to reveal the information, and rather opted to tell congressmen the crucial information on the Mamasapano incident in private.

“That is why it is not that he chose what, or where, how will I say this. It’s not that. Let us understand that what happened is complicated. It is not a simple coverage of an ordinary event since many are involved, many died, a big geographic area is being talked on, there are many complexities since it is anti terrorism, there is serving of a warrant of arrest and so forth,” he said.
“Since this incident surfaced or happened, the President has clearly stated his determination to know the whole story, to know the complete narrative, the complete timelines…. Because he believes in the principle that the truth will set us free. There should be no doubt on his commitment to seek for the truth,” Coloma added.

The notion to call Aquino forth in a Senate inquiry was thought by lawmakers earlier when the Senate had began it’s inquiry, however only stating that it will only invite the President and not require him to appear.
Joshua L. Labonera, Gerry Baldo


INQUIRER

Poe: Mamasapano raid ‘poorly’ planned, doomed by leadership breakdown Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 6:57 PM | Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


SENATE PROBE CHAIRMAN

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate investigation on the Mamasapano operation showed that it was “poorly” planned and that there was an “undeniable breakdown” of leadership and command and control in the Philippine National Police (PNP), Senator Grace Poe said on Tuesday.

Poe, head of the Senate committee on public order, made this assessment as she adjourned the proceedings after holding five public hearings and five executive sessions.

“It appears that the operation was poorly planned from the start to make matters worse, there was an undeniable breakdown of both leadership and command and control in the PNP,” she said before adjourning the hearing Tuesday.

“Information about Operation Exodus was deliberately withheld from the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and the officer-in-charge of the PNP. Ito po ay malinaw. Umpisa pa lang, ‘yun na ang ating pinag-usapan,” the senator said, referring to Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

“The PNP did not coordinate with nearby units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines until both the 84th and the 55th special action companies were already heavily engaged in firefights with hostile forces. Yun din po malinaw,” Poe added.

The Mamasapano operation last January 25 resulted in the death of 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force.

While “we are one in the search for a lasting peace in Mindanao,” Poe said there could be no peace without justice.

“A peace agreement that allows the slaughter of our law enforcers because they did not coordinate their operation with the other party is certainly flawed. It is not an excuse for the commission of a crime,” she said.

Poe said the three committees — public order, peace, unification and reconciliation, and finance that conducted the hearings — will come up with a joint report that will propose legislative actions necessary to avoid the repeat of the Mamasapano incident.

“We will be making recommendations with respect to the proposed PNP Modernization Program which is pending before Congress,” said the senator.

“Hindi lang po paghahanap ng kasalanan kundi para rin po palakasin ang ating mga pulis na nakita naman natin na may kagitingan na pinakita dito at patuloy na nagpapakita ng kagitingan, kaya lang po minsan, meron din sa hanay nila nagkakamali kaya hindi nila nagagawa nang tama ang kanilang trabaho,” she further said.

Poe said a joint committee report would not be credible or acceptable to the people “unless we examine the Mamasapano incident in the context of the ongoing peace process with the MILF (Moro of Islamic Liberation Front).

“The efforts of the government to arrive at a just, sustainable and lasting peace in Mindanao while ensuring the socio-economic, political and cultural equity must not be at the expense of our sovereignty and national integrity. The laws of our republic must be enforceable and enforced within our territorial boundaries without exception,” she stressed.


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy knew early, but was given wrong information By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Feb. 24, 2015 at 12:01am


Hearing on the 44. Resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima is shown with Eduardo Oban, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, during the continuation of the Senate hearing on the encounter between Muslim rebels and Police
commandoes in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25 that resulted in the death of 44 police commandos. With them are Foreignb Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. Lino Santos

RESIGNED police chief Alan Purisima had told President Benigno Aquino III that armored units and artillery were already reinforcing the beleaguered police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, when no such help was on the way yet, text messages between the two officials show.

The text messages, read aloud before the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano operation in which 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed, also showed that the President continued to give orders to Purisima, even though he was already suspended by the Ombudsman on corruption charges. Purisima, in turn, continued to give orders to SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, who was the ground commander of the covert operation.

These were among the key revelations after Senator Grace Poe, who chaired the hearing, asked Purisima to read aloud the exchange of text message between him and the President on Jan. 25.

Purisima also finally admitted he was the one who informed the President that Operation Exodus was already executed, sending him a text message about it at 5:45 a.m. on Jan. 25. He was then in San Leonardo, Nuevea Ecija.

In the same text to the President, Purisima informed Aquino that international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, the prime target of the operation, had been killed.

But the President was able to respond to Purisima’s text message almost two hours later at 7:36 a.m.

In the hearing on Feb. 12, military and police officials could not say who informed the President of the Mamasapano clash when it was happening.

Purisima refused to answer at the time, saying he wanted to get the President’s approval before answering the question.

The President and Purisima have been blamed for the botched police operation, and various sectors have demanded that they be held liable for the death of the 44 SAF commandos.

Napeñas said he and Purisima, and PNP Intelligence Group commander Sr. Supt. Fernando Mendez briefed the President on Operation Exodus in Bahay Pangarap, Aquino’s official residence, on Jan. 9.

In his testimony Monday, Purisima said he started texting the President 5:45 a.m. of Jan. 25, informing him about the operation.

Responding to Purisima’s text two hours later, the President wanted to know why Marwan’s body was left behind, and why Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman, the secondary target, had not been caught or killed.

The transcript from the Jan. 25 exchange of text messages provided by Purisima is as follows:

PURISIMA: “Sir good morning. For info SAF elements implemented oplan against high value targets. As of now sir results indicate that Marwan was killed and one Saf trooper wounded. The body of Marwan was left behind but pictures were taken. The troopers are now withdrawal phase and progress report to follow.”

AQUINO: “Why was it left behind? The other two targets?”

PURISIMA: “Sir accordingly, when the nearest target from the line of approach is M1 and when they hit the primary target, the other house where Basit Usman was located with other elements reacted and fired at the troopers. There were about 15 to twenty armed elements. It was about 430am and it was decided that they pull out after gathering pictures and other evidences. They were not able to reach the secondary targets sir.”

AQUINO: “If I remember correctly, 160 SAF troopers were directly involved in this operation plus provision for other PNP and AFP units to assist. The terrain is flat and clear as opposed to upland forested or jungle terrain. Why could they not contain and/or overwhelm the 15-20 member opposing force? Are they still in contact with the two other targets? If not and the opposing force has escaped, are we now back to square one?”

PURISIMA: “They are presently in contact with reinforcing elements from BIFF. The containment forces are the ones in contact right now. They are supported by mechanized and artillery support, Sir.”

PURISIMA: “The local target Basit and his group were the first group that were engaged by main effort group.”

AQUINO: “Review your earlier and latest texts. They differ as to which was engaged first.”

PURISIMA: “I mean sir the first target was M1 where they were able to neutralize first. The group of Basit retaliated which was about 100 meters away.”

AQUINO (10:16am): “Basit should not get away.”

PURISIMA (11:38am): “Already advised sir but as of the moment the main effort is withdrawing and according to dir IG we still have our contact with the ...and will hit them again sir.”

PURISIMA (6:20pm): “Sir latest report from operating elements in Maguindanao states that the security elements who were engage by BIFF/MILF Elements suffered heavy casualties. They were reportedly overrun. CCH (committee on the cessation of hostilities) and international monitoring team are in the area retrieving casualties. The main effort is still in the process of rendezvous with other SAF and AFP elements.”

Purisima said he texted the President based on the information he received from Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero.

Under questioning by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Purisima said the President had always reminded him to coordinate the police operation.

Asked if he followed this directive, Purisima said no.

“That’s not my job because at that time, I was already suspended and the instruction was directed to the ground commander to coordinate with the AFP on the ground.”

Purisima admitted there was no coordination in the operation because they informed their counterparts in the AFP only when Marwan was already hit by the police commandos.

But under questioning, Napeñas said it was Purisima who gave him to go-signal to launch the Mamasapano operation, contrary to his previous statements that he acted on his own.

An exchange of text messages between Napeñas and Purisima also showed that the date of the operation had been moved to Jan. 25 because police personnel were needed for the papal visit earlier in the month.

In his text message to Purisima on Jan. 23 suggesting the later date, Napeñas had written “for your consideration and approval.”

Purisima then replied: “Ok na go, for the secondary schedule.”

Drilon asked Napeñas: “In other words, Purisima gave the approval that you go on the secondary date?”

Napeñas said yes.

The sacked SAF commander also admitted he did not inform Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II or PNP OIC Leonardo Espina about the operation in line with Purisima’s order.

Drilon said it was clear that despite his suspension, Purisima was still giving orders to Napeñas.

He also did not follow the President’s directive to coordinate the operation with the military, Drilon added.

Drilon said the Ombudsman should study the possibility of charging Purisima with usurpation of public functions he was already suspended at the time.

“It was very clear that he gave the go-signal, which he was not supposed to be doing,” Drilon said.

Roxas, who was kept out of the loop about Operation Exodus, said the President got conflicting reports about the Mamasapano incident.

He remembered sending a text message to Espina asking for more information, but he too had been kept in the dark about the operation.

On Monday, Poe acceded to a request from Armed Forces chief Gen. Pio Catapang Jr. for an executive session so his ground commanders could speak freely on the Mamasapano incident.

Those who gave testimony in the executive session were Catapang, Guerrero, Supt. Gener del Rosario, chief of the Army Mechanized Brigade and Maj. General Edmundo Pangilinan, chief of the 6th Infantry Brigade.

In the Palace, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Aquino was led to believe that the Mamasapano operations were going as planned, contrary to what was happening on the ground.

In a briefing Monday, Lacierda said the President was informed that there were only about 150 members of the police’s SAF in Mamasampano but in reality there were more than 300.

”He was not informed that there were casualties early on,” he said.

Lacierda also said that the Chief Executive had an impression that artillery support was ready but was not.

”We want to know what happened on the ground,” he said, adding that the President has nothing to do with the tactical operations since that was the responsibility of the tactical commander, which was Napenas.

Lacierda said the President told the Napeñas to coordinate with Espina, but he noted that this order was not followed. With PNA


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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