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REVISITING 'MAMASAPANO MASSACRE'

AN 'UNSHAKEN' AQUINO CONSULTS LAWYERS FOR LEGAL DEFENSE; LACIERDA CLAIMED RODY  FISHING FOR 'ALTERNATIVE FACTS' TO PIN BLAME ON Pnoy
[RELATED: Noy, Napeñas point to each other on Mamasapano]



JANUARY 26 -FORMER PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHOTO POSTED JANUARY 27, 2016 INQUIRER.NET -In March last year, the Senate committees released a report on the incident that found the president, among others, “ultimately liable” for the botched Mamasapano incident. Reported today, January 26, 2017 -An “unshaken” Aquino, is preparing his legal defense against accusations raised by President Duterte on Tuesday that he should be held ultimately liable for the raid. File photo The Duterte administration is contriving an “alternative commission” and using “alternative facts” in its effort to pin the blame on former president Benigno Aquino III for the Mamasapano raid, former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday. “There were a lot of points raised,” Aquino told reporters after mass held at the tomb of his parents at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City yesterday to mark Corazon Aquino’s birth anniversary. He was referring to Duterte’s remarks before relatives of the 44 police commandos killed in an encounter with Muslim rebels in a cornfield in Mamasapano, Maguindanao exactly two years ago yesterday. Lacierda denied Duterte’s insinuation that Teresita Deles, at the time the presidential adviser on the peace process, had asked Aquino to order the military to stand down just to save the peace talks with the MILF. Deles has herself denied the allegation a number of times. READ MORE...RELATED, Noy, Napeñas point to each other on Mamasapano...

ALSO: Aquino breaks silence, denies U.S. involvement in Mamasapano
[RELATED: Aquino moves for dismissal of complaints]


JANUARY 26 -In this June 28, 2016 file photo, then President Benigno Aquino II graces the Armed Forces of the Philippines testimonial parade at the military headquarters in Quezon City. Malacañang Photo Bureau
Former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday broke his silence on the 2015 Mamasapano clash, where 67 Filipinos—including 44 elite police officers—were killed, to deny US involvement in the operation and stress that he ordered coordination between the police and military. In a statement released early Thursday, Aquino responded to questions raised by President Rodrigo Duterte, who alleged that the US Central Intelligence Agency was behind the operation and criticized his predecessor for sending Special Action Force commandos "into the lion's den."  Related stories on Mamasapano probe: Duterte reopens Mamasapano probe FULL TEXT: Former President Aquino on Mamasapano Aquino acknowledged that the US helped with equipment and hardware for intelligence gathering as he said had been done even before his administration. He said he did not talk to any Americans regarding the operation. The Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry that looked into the operation in 2015 noted US assistance with intelligence as well. READ MORE...RELATED, Aquino moves for dismissal of complaints...

ALSO: Families of SAF 44 cry for justice two years after Mamasapano


JANUARY 26 -PHOTO COURTESY OF GMA NEWS
Relatives of Mamasapano massacre victims and three cause-oriented groups picketed in front of the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City yesterday to demand the immediate filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for his role in the slaying of 44 troopers of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by Muslim rebels two years ago. The Ombudsman did not include Aquino when it filed the other day multiple homicide through reckless imprudence and usurpation of authority cases before the Sandiganbayan against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former SAF head Getulio Napeñas for allegedly masterminding the bungled operations to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan, despite the fact that the former police head was under suspension for his alleged involvement in a separate graft case. The rallyists said the Ombudsman should now amend its complaint to include the former President who lost his immunity from suit when he stepped down from Malacañang last July, 2016. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino files counter-affidavit in Mamasapano case; placed blame totally on Napañes "poor planning", "defective operation"
 [RELATED: Aquino sinagot ang mga tanong ni Duterte sa Mamasapano clash]


JANUARY 26 -In this Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, then President Benigno Aquino III gestures shortly after addressing the nation in a live broadcast from Malacañan Palace in Manila, Philippines, on the botched January 25 police operation to capture a terrorist that resulted in the killing of 65 Filipinos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. AP/Bullit Marquez, file
Former President Benigno Aquino III has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss "for utter lack of merit" the multiple homicide complaint filed against him by some families of the police troopers killed in the 2015 Mamasapano incident. In his 27-page counter-affidavit filed recently before the anti-graft body, Aquino maintained that he had no criminal liability in the gruesome incident that led to the death of over 60 people, including 44 members of the Philippine National Police's elite unit, Special Action Force (SAF). Related Stories Noy faces more raps over SAF 44 deaths More SAF 44 kin sue Noy, ex-PNP officials Aquino reiterated that he had repeatedly ordered then SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr. to coordinate with the military days before the execution of Oplan Exodus, the botched SAF operation aimed at arresting Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. Aquino said that he uttered this directive to Napeñas several times during the briefing for the operation held at the Malacañang on Jan. 9, 2015 and even days before the operation's execution. READ MORE...RELATED,  Aquino sinagot ang mga tanong ni Duterte sa Mamasapano clash....

ALSO: Noy liable for debacle—ex-SAF: Aquino gave Purisima the go-signal - Napeñas


JANUARY 28 -LONG ARM OF THE LAW. The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division will handle the cases filed against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former PNP Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas Jr. (above) in connection with the bloody Mamasapano massacre on Jan. 25, 2015. 
FORMER President Benigno Aquino III knew about the involvement of certain Americans in the planning of the ill-fated Mamasapano encounter in which 44 police commandos were killed two years ago, former Special Action Forces chief Getulio Napeñas said Friday. In a recent television interview, Napeñas also scored Aquino for shielding his shooting buddy, retired Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, who was suspended at the time but still oversaw the operation. Responding to Aquino’s own version of events that held Napeñas squarely accountable for the botched encounter, the embattled police official said that Aquino is trying to save someone’s neck by pinning the blame on him. “As a leader you have to own your decision,” Napeñas said in a TV5 interview, adding that Aquino himself gave the go-signal for the operation to get Malaysian terrorist Marwan—a mission that left Marwan dead but also sacrificed 44 police commandos who did not get reinforcements from the government.
READ MORE...RELATED, Noy camp taunts Duterte; New panel, new facts, says former spokesman ...

ALSO: TRIBUNE COMMENTARY - Time for genuine justice
[EDITORIAL - Independent? Duterte's 'Commission of Seven"]


JANUARY 26 -With an independent fact-finding investigation ordered by Rody Duterte on the Mamasapano massacre that saw 44 Special Action Force commandos butchered by the armed Islamic rebels, and with then President Noynoy Aquino doing nothing to save the troopers, the relatives of the slain commandos may well find closure this time around, with a president who not only is an eyewitness to the indeciveness of Aquino to the point of allowing the massacre of the SAF troopers, but is also a president who is determined to provide justice and closure to the relatives of the 44 SAF troopers. Truth is, Rody is the best witness for that independent probe, as he was present during the command conference with Aquino and heard and saw just how Aquino deliberately did nothing to save the lives of the SAF commandos, even when he, and even his generals, military and police, as well as the then interior chief, Mar Roxas, did not move at all to, at the very least, convince Aquino to order reinforcements and air assets to save the troopers. And they all lied before the Senate and the House investigations into the massacre, especially Aquino, who refused to be held accountable and responsible for the botched Oplan Exodus. And all his yellows in the Senate, especially Senators Antonio Trillanes and Leila de Lima, who now slam Rody for baring the truth and reopening a probe, were all for defending Aquino, Mar Roxas and the generals, with Leila even making an embarrassment of herself when she claimed that Aquino is not the Commander in Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), even when the Constitution says so. And she did it to protect Aquino, even when he was guilty as hell for sending the 44 young men to their deaths, without lifting a finger or an order to help them, as they were being massacred by his precious Muslim butchers. Also an embarrassment is Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who, even before a probe, already stated that Aquino was blameless and charged only two, who were her scapegoats. READ MORE....RELATED, EDITORIAL - Independent? Duterte's 'Commission of Seven"...


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‘Rody gov’t fishing for alternative facts’ - Edwin Lacierda


An “unshaken” Aquino, meanwhile, is preparing his legal defense against accusations raised by President Duterte on Tuesday that he should be held ultimately liable for the raid.

MANILA, JANUARY 30, 2017 (PHILSTAR) Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2017 - 12:00am - The Duterte administration is contriving an “alternative commission” and using “alternative facts” in its effort to pin the blame on former president Benigno Aquino III for the Mamasapano raid, former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.

“There were a lot of points raised,” Aquino told reporters after mass held at the tomb of his parents at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City yesterday to mark Corazon Aquino’s birth anniversary. He was referring to Duterte’s remarks before relatives of the 44 police commandos killed in an encounter with Muslim rebels in a cornfield in Mamasapano, Maguindanao exactly two years ago yesterday.

Lacierda denied Duterte’s insinuation that Teresita Deles, at the time the presidential adviser on the peace process, had asked Aquino to order the military to stand down just to save the peace talks with the MILF. Deles has herself denied the allegation a number of times.

READ MORE...


FORMER PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III, POSTED JANUARY 27, 2016 INQUIRER.NET -In March last year, the Senate committees released a report on the incident that found the president, among others, “ultimately liable” for the botched Mamasapano incident. An “unshaken” Aquino, meanwhile, is preparing his legal defense against accusations raised by President Duterte on Tuesday that he should be held ultimately liable for the raid. File photo

Despite Duterte’s tirades, the former president “looks unshaken because he knows someone’s watching over him,” Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Abellada, one of his sisters, said, referring to their mother, former president Cory Aquino.

The Aquino family commemorated yesterday the 84th birth anniversary of Cory.

The former chief executive was to meet with his legal counsels yesterday afternoon to craft a statement, scheduled for release today.

He said he and his legal team would double check facts as he admitted spending most of his time yesterday verifying the information mentioned by Duterte.

The Special Action Force (SAF) policemen were leaving Tukanalipao town after killing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, when they encountered guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The former president said he was happy that the “press now bothers to get the other side” unlike during the martial law years.

In a meeting with the families of the slain SAF members at Malacañang on Tuesday, Duterte said he wanted his predecessor to answer questions about the Mamasapano operation which investigating bodies did not ask when Aquino was still in power.


LACIERDA DURING PNoy'S PRESIDENCY

Lacierda again denied Duterte’s insinuation that then presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles had asked Aquino to order the military to stand down just to save the peace talks with the MILF. Deles has herself denied the allegation a number of times.

Aquino’s late mother had served the country as president from 1986 to 1992.

The Aquino matriarch died in 2009 of colon cancer. A civilian-led military uprising in February 1986 – now called EDSA people power – forced the dictator Ferdinand Marcos into exile and catapulted her to power.

Aquino also expressed confidence that the people would continue to remember what his parents had fought for that led to the EDSA revolution.

“From two years ago, he (Noynoy) already told us he could sleep well with the decisions he made,” Abellada said.


PHOTO FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN: The 84th birth anniversary of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino was commemorated by family and friends Wednesday, January 25, with a mass celebrated before her grave in Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque City. Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his sisters, Maria Elena (Ballsy), Aurora Corazon (Pinky), Victoria Elisa (Viel) and Kristina Bernadette (Kris), led the proceedings, which started at 11 a.m. The occasion lasted for an hour. The grave of Cory, together with her husband the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was adorned with flowers like daisies, orchids, Malaysian mums and stargazers from family and friends. Vice President Leni Robredo also attended Cory’s birth anniversary. MANILA BULLETIN FILE

From Manila Memorial Park, the Aquino family proceeded to a small Italian restaurant on Sucat Road for lunch. The restaurant’s owner is the son of an Italian photographer who covered the 1986 EDSA people power revolution.

“The family was very serene, not at all in panic mode,” a source said.

“The Aquino children always feel at peace when they pray at their parents’ grave and there has never been a time when their mother Cory did not heed their prayers,” the source added.

The former president had spoken many times about the Mamasapano incident while he was in office.

He had sought understanding and provided assistance to the families of the fallen policemen as he narrated how he had been left in the dark during the operation despite his strict orders to then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and SAF commander Getulio Napeñas to coordinate with other police and military officials.

Aquino and the United States embassy had repeatedly denied any US role in the operation, contrary to Duterte’s allegations, and stressed the charges against him filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the incident were frivolous and absurd.

The ombudsman is still evaluating the charges against Aquino but has filed a case against Purisima and Napeñas for graft and usurpation of public functions.

Diversion - Opposition Senators

TRILLANES

For some senators, President Duterte’s playing up the Mamasapano debacle was his way of demonizing his predecessor and covering up controversies and scandals hounding his six-month administration.

“The Mamasapano Commission is just to divert attention from the blunders of his administration,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said in a text message.

DE LIMA

Sen. Leila de Lima said Duterte is using the issue to divert attention from the crises his current leadership is facing, “rather than to actually give justice to the SAF and Muslim civilian victims of that armed encounter.”

“This appears to be the primary motivation of the President in continuously harping on the Mamasapano incident. It is to continuously demonize the past administration in order to cover up for his own lack of accomplishments and direction after six months into his term,” De Lima said.

“Duterte is the least qualified in directing such a probe given his propensity for pre-judgment and to preempt the results of any investigation, as he himself has already declared the Mamasapano police action as a CIA operation,” she said, referring to the US Central Intelligence Agency by its initials.

She said a further probe on the Mamasapano incident should be devoid of politics.

The ombudsman, she pointed out, is in the best position to investigate the issue.

Any other investigation initiated by the President “will always be doubted for his obvious bias against the past administration,” De Lima stressed.

Duterte's Prerogative

DRILON, PANGILINAN

Senate President Pro Tempore Frank Drilon and Sen. Francisco Pangilinan said that while it was Duterte’s prerogative to form the commission, the Mamasapano incident has been subjected to so many probes by various groups.

“It must be said, however, that the Mamasapano incident was already subject of a number of investigations in the past by the PNP, the Senate, the House and the ombudsman,” Drilon said.

Pangilinan said reopening investigation into the incident without new evidence would uncover nothing significant.

Probe to reopen?

Senators debated yesterday on whether or not to reopen the inquiry into the tragedy.

GORDON, POE

Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the justice committee, insisted on the holding of a new legislative investigation.

Sen. Grace Poe, who conducted the Senate inquiry into the incident as chair of the Senate public order committee in the previous Congress, said her panel has conducted a very exhaustive probe and expressed reluctance to reopen the investigation.

She said the ombudsman has essentially adopted the recommendation of the panel’s committee report with the recent filing of charges against Purisima and Napeñas.

“Our report was based on testimonies given by all available living persons/witnesses then whose attendance the committee had the power to require, and who were all involved or have knowledge of the Mamasapano police operation, as well as all relevant documents gathered after an exhaustive series of hearings,” Poe said.

“Given the nature and inherent limitations of a legislative investigation, it is the prerogative of the President to create a commission for its reinvestigation that may hopefully add to what had been unearthed previously, given the greater powers of the executive and under much different political circumstances,” she said.

PIMENTEL

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III also told reporters he was not too keen on reopening the inquiry as the chamber has to focus on priority socio-economic bills.

Pimentel said the Senate is willing to turn over to the commission all documents and transcripts of the chamber’s inquiry.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara reminded Gordon of significant recommendations to the PNP based on the previous investigation.

Gordon’s motion was referred to the Senate committee on public order now chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson said he would review first the reports culled from the previous Senate investigation and from that of the PNP Board of Inquiry before making a decision. – With Paolo Romero

----------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Noy, Napeñas point to each other on Mamasapano


In a statement, Aquino said he had ordered officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) “to do everything they could to achieve their objective of saving the SAF (troopers),” who were on a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Julkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman. File photo

 14 SHARES 1 0 0 Cecille Suerte Felipe, Aurea Calica, Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2017 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The police operation to capture two high-value terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao two years ago was poorly planned and was carried out by its commander Getulio Napeñas Jr. without coordinating with the military – in defiance of orders from then president Benigno Aquino III.

The former chief executive was refuting pronouncements from President Duterte on Tuesday that he let members of the Special Action Force (SAF) get massacred by Muslim rebels.

In a statement, Aquino said he had ordered officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) “to do everything they could to achieve their objective of saving the SAF (troopers),” who were on a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Julkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman.

But Napeñas argued Aquino was “always on top” of operations to capture or eliminate Marwan and that the former president never issued any order to coordinate the failed operation with the military.

In belying Duterte’s claim, Aquino said he was breaking a vow to remain silent for a year to give the new president the chance to learn the ropes of the job.

Aquino, after a meeting with his legal counsels on Wednesday, came out with a point-by-point rebuttal of Duterte’s tirades.

“The premise that I let them in and left them on their own to look after themselves was wrong. There were witnesses, during the time that I stressed that the PNP must coordinate with the AFP, and the coordination must be done days before the operation was implemented,” Aquino said.

He insisted he warned the then SAF director of the dangers of the operation called Oplan Exodus, contrary to Duterte’s claim that he fed the police commandos “to the lion’s den.”

“If I committed a sin as president during that time, it would be this: not once did it enter my mind that Napeñas could lie to the President of the Philippines,” Aquino maintained.

“I trusted a two-star police officer, whom I personally promoted. I believed that this PMA (Philippine Military Academy) graduate would abide by the values of the institution… ‘courage, integrity, loyalty’,” Aquino added.

If his instructions were followed, Aquino said the “tragedy” would not have happened.

The commandos were leaving Mamasapano after killing Marwan when they encountered guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The gunfight left about 60 people dead, including 44 SAF troopers.

The former president also took Duterte to task for implying he did not know what to do when he learned of the incident while in Zamboanga City.

“When we were in Zamboanga, I was told that it was getting late; it would already be difficult for the troops to link up; and the rescue operations would just be continued ‘tomorrow’,” he said.

“That was when I answered: ‘If you were the one (in such a situation), would that be okay with you? They had been fighting the whole day; they probably did not have bullets anymore. Use all the assets, continue and rescue them. The minimum (accomplishment) that you should report to me was that they had been resupplied (with whatever they needed)’,” Aquino said.

SAF fit for the mission

On Duterte’s expressing bewilderment over why the Philippine Army was not the one tapped to conduct the operation, Aquino stressed the elite SAF troopers were also trained in such operation anywhere in the country and not just in urban terrorism, based on SAF’s own mission statement.

Aquino explained the PNP led the operation because it was the one in possession of pertinent intelligence information. It also had the police power to enforce warrants of arrest against the two targets – Marwan and Usman.

The former president also reiterated that contrary to Duterte’s claim, the US did not have a hand in the operation except for intelligence information, equipment and hardware. Duterte said the US Central Intelligence Agency was behind the Mamasapano raid.

“Even before my time, the US had been helping in our operations. As for me, I was talking to Filipinos. Those reporting to me were Filipinos, and Filipinos carried out the mission. Even the assets that managed to get near Marwan (who was neutralized during the operation) were our government assets,” Aquino said.

He likewise said whoever received whatever rewards offered by the US for the deaths of the two terrorists were not for him to explain.

The PNP’s grant of Medal of Valor award to only two of the slain SAF members was also something he did not have to explain, Aquino also said.

Aquino further said there was no order for the military to stand down allegedly to save the peace talks with the MILF as supposedly suggested by then presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles.

He said Deles did not have knowledge of the operation and that members of the MILF were the ones who informed the military about the encounter.

Aquino emphasized he was aware of the risks in running after the two terrorists, the targets of Oplan Exodus prepared by Napeñas.

Then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima had said he knew of the plan, being the one who had the actionable intelligence information on the two terrorists.

Aquino said Napeñas had promised him they would use 160 Seaborne operatives against 3,000 potential armed enemies.

He recalled Napeñas answering “Yes, sir,” whenever he asked if the coordination was done for the mechanized units, artillery, air and other assets to back them up in the operation.

Aquino said he even told Napeñas that the coordination could not be done while they were already moving.


PHILSTAR

Aquino breaks silence, denies US hand in Mamasapano 80 SHARES 2 0 0 Jonathan de Santos (philstar.com) - January 26, 2017 - 8:38am


In this June 28, 2016 file photo, then President Benigno Aquino II graces the Armed Forces of the Philippines testimonial parade at the military headquarters in Quezon City. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday broke his silence on the 2015 Mamasapano clash, where 67 Filipinos—including 44 elite police officers—were killed, to deny US involvement in the operation and stress that he ordered coordination between the police and military.

In a statement released early Thursday, Aquino responded to questions raised by President Rodrigo Duterte, who alleged that the US Central Intelligence Agency was behind the operation and criticized his predecessor for sending Special Action Force commandos "into the lion's den."

Related stories on Mamasapano probe:

Duterte reopens Mamasapano probe

FULL TEXT: Former President Aquino on Mamasapano

Aquino acknowledged that the US helped with equipment and hardware for intelligence gathering as he said had been done even before his administration. He said he did not talk to any Americans regarding the operation.

The Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry that looked into the operation in 2015 noted US assistance with intelligence as well.

READ MORE...

"Bago pa man ang panahon ko, tumutulong na ang Estados Unidos sa ating mga operasyon. Ang sa akin, Pilipino ang mga kausap ko. Pilipino ang nagbibigay-ulat sa akin, at Pilipino ang nagsagawa ng misyon. Ultimong asset na nakalapit kina Marwan, asset ng ating gobyerno," Aquino said.

Aquino also said that he had given then SAF Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. orders to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the mission.

"Inutusan ko si Napeñas na kailangan niyang makipag-coordinate sa AFP para maihanda ang mechanized units, artillery, eroplano, tao at iba pang assets na kailangan para hindi mangyari ang pintakasi. Sagot ni Mr. Napeñas: 'Yes, sir.' Matapos ang imbestigasyon, lumabas na wala palang 160 ang [84th "Seaborne" Special Action Company]. Higit 70 lang ang bilang nila at 54 sa kanila ang operators," he said.

"Dagdag pa ni Napeñas, mangyayari ang coordination kapag moving na raw sila. Tumanggi ako dito; sabi ko, kailangang may sapat at supisyenteng araw para maiposisyon ang lahat ng assets. Ang sagot na naman niya: 'Yes, sir.'"

The former president said that the coordination that Napeñas should have been done days before the operation only happened when the SAF units were already in the area.

"Dahil walang coordination, ang AFP, nagkandarapa, dahil yung mga detalyeng dapat alam nila, gaya ng sino ang tutulungan at saan, saka pa lang nila inaalam," he said.

Napeñas said in past probes that he had briefed Aquino before the operation on Jan. 9, 2015. At the briefing were PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Fernando Mendez, then director of the PNP Intelligence Group.

Purisima had been on preventive suspension for a graft complaint at the time. He has since been dismissed and charged for an allegedly anomalous deal with a courier company the PNP contracted to deliver gun licenses.

Napeñas said that Purisima told him that he would take care of telling Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, then AFP chief of staff, about the operation. He added that the suspended national police chief told him not to tell

“It was when he came out that [Director General] Purisima [told me], ‘Don’t tell the other two about this, just do it later when we’re there. I will take care of [AFP Chief of Staff] Gen. [Gregorio Pio] Catapang,’” Napeñas said PNP OIC Leonardo Espina and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II. Espina and Roxas were up the chain of command.

Among the findings of the PNP BOI was that the chain of command of the PNP had been violated in the planning and execution of the operation.

"Sa pagtatapos, kung may kasalanan po ako bilang Pangulo nung panahong iyon, ito po: ni minsan, hindi pumasok sa isip kong magagawa ni Napeñas na magsinungaling sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas," former President Aquino said.

---------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino moves for dismissal of complaints By: Vince F. Nonato - Reporter / @VinceNonatoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 01:18 AM January 27, 2017


President Benigno Simeon Aquino lll. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Former President Benigno Aquino III has formally denied having direct participation in the botched Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos on Jan. 25, 2015.

Aquino asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss the three complaints filed by the relatives of the slain SAF commandos against him, saying he could not be directly faulted for the deaths of the policemen because of his limited involvement in the operation.

In his 27-page counteraffidavit, Aquino argued the case did not fall under the doctrine of command responsibility, as he had “reasonable basis” to presume the operation was being carried out with regularity.

He said he was not directly involved in the planning and execution of “Oplan: Exodus,” as these duties fell under the “sole discretion” of the ground commanders.

Aquino said he only received updates from the police officials, and was not even informed of the date during a Jan. 9, 2015, briefing.

“It was only on the morning of Jan. 25, 2015, that I learned that Oplan: Exodus had been implemented,” he said.

Aquino argued that his participation was “not the proximate cause” of the SAF troopers’ deaths.

He said the operation failed because of “poor planning, defective execution and lack of coordination” with the military.


MANILA BULLETIN

Families of SAF 44 cry for justice two years after Mamasapano 432 SHARES Share it! Published January 26, 2017, 12:09 AM by Jun Ramirez and Chito A. Chavez


PHOTO COURTESY OF GMA NEWS

Relatives of Mamasapano massacre victims and three cause-oriented groups picketed in front of the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City yesterday to demand the immediate filing of criminal charges against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for his role in the slaying of 44 troopers of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by Muslim rebels two years ago.

The Ombudsman did not include Aquino when it filed the other day multiple homicide through reckless imprudence and usurpation of authority cases before the Sandiganbayan against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former SAF head Getulio Napeñas for allegedly masterminding the bungled operations to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan, despite the fact that the former police head was under suspension for his alleged involvement in a separate graft case.

The rallyists said the Ombudsman should now amend its complaint to include the former President who lost his immunity from suit when he stepped down from Malacañang last July, 2016.

READ MORE...


TRIBUTE TO THE FALLEN – In Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, troops of the Special Action Force present arms during a tribute to 44 of their comrades who were killed in a clash with Muslim militants in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, exactly two years ago yesterday. (Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin)

PNOY DOUBLE CHECKING FACTS

Former President Aquino said he is now studying allegations implicating him in the tragic Mamasapano incident.

“We just want to make sure of our reply na we’d double check all of our facts so I’ve been [checking] this morning, checking all the facts,” Aquino said.

“It took us a while to get the transcript. I’m meeting with my legal counsel this (Wednesday) afternoon and we’re crafting a statement. In the meantime, we are checking all of the facts,” he added.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the criminal complaints filed against former President Aquino are still pending preliminary investigation as the former president sought extension of the deadline to file his counter affidavits.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), and the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) joined the demonstration to show their support for the families of SAF 44.

VACC Chairman Dante Jimenez threatened to file impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Morales if she continues to delay the filing of multiple homicide charges against the former President who appointed her to the post.

Jimenez noted that VACC submitted a string of criminal complaints against Aquino shortly after leaving Malacañang in July last year, “but up to now we do not know the status of the case.”

DELAY IN FILING

Morales has ordered the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to explain why it took seven months for the Mamasapano case to reach the Sandiganbayan.

Morales said the charges against Purisima and Napenas were due for filing in June last year, but the case reached the anti-graft court only the other day.

She said they are still looking at the records whether the delayed filing was an isolated case.

She admitted that the delayed filing was discovered when ABS-CBN reporter Carolyn Bonquin inquired about the case on its second anniversary.

CRY FOR JUSTICE

The families and relatives of the Mamasapano massacre victims held a press conference yesterday calling for the inclusion of former President Aquino in the charges.

An emotional Telly Sumbilla, mother of PO3 John Lloyd Sumbilla, pointed to Aquino’s accountability being the commander-in-chief then and the one who gave the order to conduct the operation.

After two years, Sumbilla wailed with grief stating that justice has yet to be served with no one among the guilty parties, including the former president, being made answerable for the death of the 44 police officers who were virtually put into the lion’s den.

“Humihingi kami ng hustisya sa pagkamatay ng aming anak na hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay wala pang hustisya (We are seeking for justice for the death of our children),’’ Sumbilla said.

Ferdinand Topacio, counsel for nine SAF members, blamed former Department of Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima in directing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel investigation for coming out with a report “na puro burado (with erasures).”

“Literally, just a cover up,” Topacio said, showing the De Lima report full of erasures.

JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday assured the families of the 44 SAF members that justice would be served under the Duterte administration, something they failed to achieve during the previous government.

Sen. Nancy Binay also backed the formation of an independent commission that would get to the bottom of the Mamasapano issue.

“The search for truth and justice continues. We should persist in uncovering the answers to some of the questions left hanging, and let those responsible for the deaths of the 44 face the courts,” Binay said.

TRUTH MUST COME OUT

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles wants the real truth to come out behind the bloody encounter in Mamasapano for the peace of the souls of those who died in the incident.

The prelate said he is in favor of reopening the investigation on the Mamasapano encounter . (With reports from Martin A. Sadongdong, Hannah L. Torregoza, and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)


PHILSTAR

Aquino files counter-affidavit in Mamasapano case  23 SHARES 1 0 0 Elizabeth Marcelo (philstar.com) - January 26, 2017 - 7:26pm


In this Feb. 6, 2016 file photo, then President Benigno Aquino III gestures shortly after addressing the nation in a live broadcast from Malacañan Palace in Manila, Philippines, on the botched January 25 police operation to capture a terrorist that resulted in the killing of 65 Filipinos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Benigno Aquino III has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss "for utter lack of merit" the multiple homicide complaint filed against him by some families of the police troopers killed in the 2015 Mamasapano incident.

In his 27-page counter-affidavit filed recently before the anti-graft body, Aquino maintained that he had no criminal liability in the gruesome incident that led to the death of over 60 people, including 44 members of the Philippine National Police's elite unit, Special Action Force (SAF).

Related Stories Noy faces more raps over SAF 44 deaths More SAF 44 kin sue Noy, ex-PNP officials Aquino reiterated that he had repeatedly ordered then SAF director Getulio Napeñas Jr. to coordinate with the military days before the execution of Oplan Exodus, the botched SAF operation aimed at arresting Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Aquino said that he uttered this directive to Napeñas several times during the briefing for the operation held at the Malacañang on Jan. 9, 2015 and even days before the operation's execution.

READ MORE...

"Thus, my final directive to respondent Napeñas was to coordinate with the AFP before and during the actual execution of 'Oplan Exodus' to give AFP sufficient time to mobilize and re-position their personnel, reinforcements, artillery, equipment and aircraft," Aquino's affidavit read.

"I clearly recall respondent Napeñas replying to my order with an unequivocal 'Yes, Sir'," it added.

Aquino said that this lack of coordination with the AFP, coupled with "poor planning and defective execution" cause the failure of Oplan Exodus.

The police counter-terrorism operation, carried out on January 25, 2015, went awry when the SAF troopers were ovecome by combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) its splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and some private armed groups.

The encounter left 44 SAF troopers, 18 MILF members and three civilians dead.

NO DIRECT PARTICIPATION IN THE PLANNING

"I had no direct participation in the planning, approval and execution of Oplan Exodus," Aquino maintained, adding that he was not even informed on the actual date of its actual execution.

Aquino also answered the issue on why he allowed Purisima, who was suspended by the ombudsman that time, to participate in the planning of Oplan Exodus. Purisima was under suspension at that time due to corruption allegations over the PNP's courier service deal with a private firm.

"As I had repeatedly stated, respondent Purisima was present during the briefing because he had vital and intimate information regarding the high-value targets and he deemed it prudent to join the briefing," Aquino said.

"To the contrary, it would be the height of negligence if I deliberately omitted and disregarded any information coming from respondent Purisima which was material and vital to "Oplan Exodus," he added.

Aquino also said the complainant cannot cite the doctrine of command responsibility as primary basis for the charging him with multiple homicide.

Aquino said the doctrine of command responsibility can only be used against a public official if he knew that his subordinate has committed or is about to commit the crime and he did nothing about it.

Aquino maintained that Oplan Exodus was a legitimate police operation and that there was a presumption that the concerned police officials were to carry out the operation with regularity.

"Simply put, these activities and decision-making process were all left to the sole discretion of the ground commanders. Accordingly, the charge of reckless imprudence must fail and the Complaints against me must be dismissed," Aquino said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR NGAYON

Aquino sinagot ang mga tanong ni Duterte sa Mamasapano clash  275 SHARES 1 1 2 (Pilipino Star Ngayon) - January 26, 2017 - 8:21am


Dating Pangulo Benigno Aquino III File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Naglabas na ng pahayag si dating Pangulo Benigno Aquino III kaugnay ng madugong Mamasapano clash na ikinasawi ng 45 miyembro ng PNP-Special Action Force.

Sinagot ni Aquino punto por punto ang mga naging katanungan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na iniutos ang muling pagbubukas ng imbestigasyon.

Nangako po akong manahimik ng isang taon. Pero nitong Martes, nagsalita si Pangulong Duterte. Sa pakiwari ko: Tama lang po na tumugon ako.

Sa Mindanao, may pinag-uusapang konsepto ng pintakasi, kung saan pag siguradong lamang sa bilang ng tao at dami ng armas ang kalaban, kukuyugin nila ang papasok, na kadalasa’y puwersa ng gobyerno.

Muntik na ngang mangyari ang pintakasi noong 2013, sa Maguindanao rin; dahil nga nakaresponde ang mechanized units ng AFP para suportahan ang PNP, nahinto ang napipintong pintakasi. Malinaw sa akin ang konseptong ito, bago pa man ang naging briefing na ginawa ni Ginoong Napeñas.

Kaya po nung iprinesenta ni Ginoong Napeñas ang Oplan Exodus, kung saan gagamit daw siya ng 160 Seaborne operatives, na haharap sa higit 3,000 na potensyal na armadong kalaban, kaagad na pumasok sa isip kong pwedeng ma-pintakasi ang sasabak na SAF. Kaya inutusan ko si Napeñas na kailangan niyang makipag-coordinate sa AFP para maihanda ang mechanized units, artillery, eroplano, tao at iba pang assets na kailangan para hindi mangyari ang pintakasi. Sagot ni Mr. Napeñas: “Yes, sir.” Matapos ang imbestigasyon, lumabas na wala palang 160 ang Seaborne. Higit 70 lang ang bilang nila at 54 sa kanila ang operators.

Dagdag pa ni Napeñas, mangyayari ang coordination kapag moving na raw sila. Tumanggi ako dito; sabi ko, kailangang may sapat at supisyenteng araw para maiposisyon ang lahat ng assets. Ang sagot na naman niya: “Yes, sir.”

Alam na po natin ang nangyari: Ang atas para mag-coordinate na dapat “days before”, naging “time after target,” gaya ng sinabi na rin ng Senate Committee Report. Dahil walang coordination, ang AFP, nagkandarapa, dahil yung mga detalyeng dapat alam nila, gaya ng sino ang tutulungan at saan, saka pa lang nila inaalam.

Hindi ko maiwasang isipin: Kung sinunod lang ang lohikal at legal kong utos, hindi mangyayari ang trahedya sa Mamasapano.

Narito naman po ilang paglilinaw:

1. Bakit ipinadala ang SAF when SAF is geared—organized and geared into the service to meet the challenges of urban terrorism?

Kahapon nga po, pinuntahan namin ang website ng PNP-SAF. Nakalagay sa umpisa pa lang sa mission statement ng SAF: “To conduct operations as a Rapid Deployment Force anywhere in the country specifically in situations with national and international implication in the areas of Hostage Rescue; Commando-Type Unconventional Warfare; Search and Rescue in times of calamities and disasters; Civil Disturbance Management during national emergency; and other special operations.”

Idiin ko po ang: “anywhere in the country.”

Klaro po, hindi limitado ang operasyon ng SAF sa urban areas. Sa SAF rin po, sa pagkakaalam ko, at batay na rin sa isang dating direktor nila, ang unang kursong tinuturo sa kanila ay tinatawag na commando course. Pang-counter insurgency po ito, at ang insurgency po natin, nasa rural areas.

Dagdag ko pa po, ang briefing sa akin ni Napeñas, itong Seaborne ang elite sa elite ng mga pulis, na kasing husay ang training at kasing suportado ng pinaka-elite unit ng AFP na Light Reaction Regiment.

2. Bakit hindi ginamit ang Army?

Bukod sa nabanggit ko sa taas, dahil inutos kong makipag-coordinate, magiging AFP-PNP Joint Operation ang misyon sa Mamasapano.

Ang PNP ang namuno sa operasyon dahil sila ang nakahanap ng tinatawag na actionable intelligence. Paalala ko lang rin po: Law enforcement operation ang pinapatupad natin dito, at inaaksyunan natin ang warrant of arrest kina Marwan at Usman. Alam po natin, PNP ang may police power at may tungkuling ipatupad ang arrest warrant.

3. Ano ang naging papel ng US sa operasyon?

Wala po akong Amerikanong nakausap ukol sa operasyon bago ito maisagawa at habang ito’y isinasagawa sa Mamasapano. Sa pagkakaunawa ko po, tumulong ang Estados Unidos doon sa equipment at hardware na pinanggalingan ng intelligence.

Bago pa man ang panahon ko, tumutulong na ang Estados Unidos sa ating mga operasyon. Ang sa akin, Pilipino ang mga kausap ko. Pilipino ang nagbibigay-ulat sa akin, at Pilipino ang nagsagawa ng misyon. Ultimong asset na nakalapit kina Marwan, asset ng ating gobyerno.

4. Si (Presidential Peace Adviser) Ging Deles daw ang nagpigil sa akin na magpadala ng air assets:

Bago ang lahat, wala po yatang kinalaman si Secretary Ging Deles sa naging misyon dahil iyon po ay isang law enforcement operation.

Sinasabi pang makakaapekto daw sa peace process sa MILF. Fact po: MILF counterpart pa nga ang unang nagsabi kay Gen. Galvez, ang GPH-CCCH chairman, ukol sa bakbakan sa Mamasapano.

5. So why did you enter into an operation which was really placing in jeopardy the lives, because at the end of the day, you would have decided not to send anymore?

Mali po ang premise na papapasukin ko sila at bahala na sila sa buhay nila. May mga testigo, kung saan idiniin kong dapat makipag-coordinate ang PNP sa AFP, at ang koordinasyon, dapat ilang araw bago ipatupad ang operasyon.

Delikado sina Marwan at Usman—gumagawa sila ng mga IED na makakapinsala ng napakaraming Pilipino. Si Marwan mismo, sangkot sa Bali bombing nung 2002.

Kung nangyari ang mga inutos ko na koordinasyon, kung naihanda sana ang lahat ng tulong na maaaring ibigay ng AFP para sa SAF, hindi dapat malalagay sa peligro ang buhay ng ating mga pulis.

Sagutin ko na rin po nang minsanan, sa usaping “Kung ikaw ang nandoon, ano ang dapat gawin?,” na sinabi ni President Duterte. Nung nasa Zamboanga kami, sinabihan akong pagabi na; mahihirapan nang mag-link up ang mga tropa; at bukas na lang itutuloy ang pagsaklolo sa kanila. Doon ako sumagot: “Kung ikaw ang nandoon, okay ba sa iyo yan? Buong araw na silang nakikipagbakbakan; malamang wala na silang bala. Gamitin ninyo lahat ng assets. Ituloy ito at i-rescue sila. Ang minimum na ireport ninyo sa akin, na-resupply sila.”

Inatasan ko ang mga opisyal ng AFP at PNP na gawin ang lahat para sa objective nilang mailigtas ang SAF.

6. Sa kung sino ang nakatanggap ng 5 million dollars na reward mula sa US:

Hindi po natin masabi, dahil hindi naman po natin reward ito. Sa totoo lang ho, hindi na rin tayo nakialam sa reward.

7. Bakit dadalawa lang ang nabigyan ng PNP Medal of Valor?

Ang paggawad po ng mga parangal na ito ay dumadaan sa isang proseso; nakabase ito sa rekomendasyon ng isang board ng PNP. Nabanggit naman po ni Pangulong Duterte na muli niyang pinapaaral ang paggawad ng Medal of Valor para sa lahat ng SAF na nasawi. Pareho naman ang prosesong pinagdaanan namin; kung may makita siyang paraan para mabigyan ang lahat, sang-ayon kami rito.

Sa pagtatapos, kung may kasalanan po ako bilang Pangulo nung panahong iyon, ito po: ni minsan, hindi pumasok sa isip kong magagawa ni Napeñas na magsinungaling sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Pinagkatiwalaan ko ang isang two-star police officer, na ako pa mismo ang nagpromote. Naniwala akong itong graduate ng PMA ay tatalima sa values ng paaralan na “Courage, Integrity, Loyalty.”


MANILA STANDARD

Noy liable for debacle—ex-SAF: Aquino gave Purisima the go-signal - Napeñas posted January 28, 2017 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Maricel V. Cruz


LONG ARM OF THE LAW. The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division will handle the cases filed against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former PNP Special Action Force director Getulio Napeñas Jr. (above) in connection with the bloody Mamasapano massacre on Jan. 25, 2015.


FORMER President Benigno Aquino III knew about the involvement of certain Americans in the planning of the ill-fated Mamasapano encounter in which 44 police commandos were killed two years ago, former Special Action Forces chief Getulio Napeñas said Friday.

In a recent television interview, Napeñas also scored Aquino for shielding his shooting buddy, retired Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, who was suspended at the time but still oversaw the operation.

Responding to Aquino’s own version of events that held Napeñas squarely accountable for the botched encounter, the embattled police official said that Aquino is trying to save someone’s neck by pinning the blame on him.

“As a leader you have to own your decision,” Napeñas said in a TV5 interview, adding that Aquino himself gave the go-signal for the operation to get Malaysian terrorist Marwan—a mission that left Marwan dead but also sacrificed 44 police commandos who did not get reinforcements from the government.

READ MORE...

Earlier this week, Aquino said the botched anti-terror mission was not his fault and would not have happened if Napeñas had not lied to him and disobeyed his orders.Napeñas insisted that Aquino would always justify Purisima’s involvement even suspended, saying that the former police chief was the “most familiar with Oplan Exodus.”

But in his three-page statement this week, Aquino never mentioned Purisima.

Napeñas said he regretted ever having obeyed Aquino and Purisima, adding that his parents never raised him to be a liar.

“If I had known that in the end they would leave me and my men just like that, I’d never have followed them,” he said.

Napeñas’ former lawyer, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, dared Aquino to submit his mobile phone for forensic examination.

AQUINO ASSAILED

Meanwhile, the militant youth group League of Filipino Students assailed the former president for whitewashing his responsibility on the Mamasapano incident.

“Even for a joke, Noynoy Aquino’s whitewashing remarks regarding the Mamasapano operation are beyond disgusting and unacceptable. He is a barefaced liar that will do anything to hide his blood-stained hands,” JP Rosos, LFS spokesperson said.

“How can Aquino just callously evade responsibility when he knew all about the Mamasapano operation? How can he deny his involvement when he gave the green light to execute the botched operation? How can Aquino still force the people to believe that he is innocent when after two years, justice remains elusive? Saan kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang dating pangulo? [Where does the former get the nerve to do this?],” he added.

The group scored Aquino’s cover-up of the US involvement.

The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division will handle the cases filed against Purisima and Napeñas by the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday.

The Ombudsman, in separate charge sheets, said Purisima, even when under preventive suspension, “unlawfully and feloniously” took part in the planning and execution of the so-called Oplan Exodus.

The Ombudsman placed Purisima under six-month preventive suspension by then in connection with the alleged anomalous contract the PNP with a courier service company.

Despite the suspension, Purisima participated in the Oplan Exodus where he constantly asked and received updates from Napeñas, the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman also said Purisima “willfully, unlawfully and criminally” influenced Napeñas to go against the PNP chain of command, Purisima’s preventive suspension order, and officer-in-charge PNP chief Leonardo Espina order for Purisima and other suspended police officers from performing their tasks.

SENATORS HOPES FOR DU30 TRUTH COMMISSION

Also on Friday, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Richard Gordon said they hoped an independent commission to be put up by the President would give closure to the Mamasapano victims and their families.

“There is no peace in the grave of these brave men if we don’t establish the truth, and if the ends of justice not served. The families of the victims rightly feel that justice was not served by the last administration,” said Pimentel. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Noy camp taunts Duterte; New panel, new facts, says former spokesman posted January 26, 2017 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Macon Ramos-Araneta


HONOR AND HEROISM. Members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force headed by its director C/Supt. Benjamin Lusad honor Wednesday the Gallant 44, a reference to the men who were killed two years ago in a police operation against terrorists in Maguindanao. Norman Cruz

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to form a commission to look into the botched January 2015 Mamasapano raid in which 44 police commandos were killed will only produce “alternative facts,” the camp of former President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday.

Playing down the President’s decision to revisit the ill-fated incident, former presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda denied Duterte’s claim that Aquino deliberately hid the truth about the covert operation, or that then peace adviser Teresita Deles had advised against reinforcing the police commandos for fear that this would violate the ceasefire with Muslim rebels.

“Alternative commission, alternative facts,” Lacierda said in a Twitter post.

Aquino, meanwhile, said he would answer questions directed at him by Duterte after checking the facts.

“There were a lot of points raised in yesterday’s speech, so we just wanted to make sure of our reply,” Aquino said after hearing a Mass celebrated for the 84th birthday of his mother, the late Corazon Aquino. “So I’ve been spending this morning checking on those facts.”

He said he would meet with his lawyers in the afternoon and have a statement released Thursday.

On Tuesday, Duterte said he would create a seven-man commission to look into the culpability of Aquino and his officials.

Duterte, in the same speech, asked Aquino to explain what really happened.

“Let it be brought in the open. It was an American adventure, with the cooperation of some. And apparently with your blessing,” Duterte said, describing the raid to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, as a CIA operation.

“You said ‘It’s my fault.’ But that’s not enough. Tell me how you sinned,” he added.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that the investigation will look into the “criminal responsibility” of Aquino, who was commander-in-chief during that time.

Because Aquino’s political allies were partial in investigating the Mamasapano case, it was time to conduct another investigation to get at the truth, Panelo said.

“The Senate hearings found that the person ultimately responsible for the snafu [was] President Aquino,” he added.

Panelo also denied allegations that they were raising the issue to deflect attention away from a scandal at the Philippine National Police, in which crooked police kidnapped a South Korean businessman and strangled him inside police headquarters in Camp Crame.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the commission could shed light on unanswered questions.

Aguirre said among these questions are: Did President Aquino give an order to stand down and not to reinforce the pinned down SAF troopers? Why was it that the military fired phosphorous rounds only after most if not all of our SAF troopers had died?

“Last but most important of all, why were the mobile phones of all those involved in the planning and the directing of Oplan Exodus from President Aquino down to the officers not submitted for forensic examination?” he said.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, meanwhile, assured the families of the 44 police commandos slain in Mamasapano that the government would help send their children to school.

“As of Jan. 16 this year, at least 16 beneficiaries of the SAF 44 members have not yet filed or received their claim for educational assistance because the intended beneficiaries are not yet studying or their petitions for claim are still pending,” he said.

Sueno also called on all members of the Philippine National Police to remember and be inspired by the sacrifices of the SAF 44.

“Sacrifices such as those of the SAF 44 should not be forgotten,” Sueno said.

Duterte’s decision to create a commission to look into the Mamasapano case was welcomed by senators allied with the President, but criticized by those who oppose him.

PIMENTEL -CAN NOW SUMMON AQUINO

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Aquino can now be summoned to answer questions after he has lost his immunity from suit.

“How will it [the commission] arrive at the truth if there’s a person exempted from subpoena or being questioned?” he said.

He said the Senate was ready to help, but would not reinvestigate the case.

“If they need transcripts of our hearings here, we will give them to avoid repetition,” he said.

Senator Grace Poe welcomed the President’s creation of an independent commission that would look into the Mamasapano incident as she recognized the limitations of the Senate probe she conducted during the last Congress.

Her committee said Aquino was ultimately responsible for the death of the members of the police elite force.

“Given the nature and inherent limitations of a legislative investigation, it is the prerogative of the President to create a commission for its reinvestigation that may... add to what had been unearthed previously given the greater powers of the executive and under much different political circumstances,” she said in a statement.

Poe said the Office of the Ombudsman had “essentially adopted” the recommendation of the committee with the recent filing of charges against former Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima and SAF Director Getulio Napeñas.

LACSON

Senator Panfilo Lacson also backed the creation of the commission, saying it’s the President’s prerogative.

“If the President feels that the investigation conducted by the Board of Inquiry is lacking, including the investigation conducted by the Senate, that is always his prerogative,” said Lacson.

He said a separate inquiry by an independent body could also pave the way for the filing of additional charges against those people responsible for the Mamasapano debacle and could be used to correct the mistakes and avoid committing the same mistakes in the future.

TRILLANES, DE LIMA

But Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Leila de Lima accused Duterte of using the Mamasapano massacre not only to “demonize” the past administration, but also to divert attention from the crisis of his own leadership.

“That’s just a diversionary tactic to mask the failures of his administration,” Trillanes said in a text message to reporters.

De Lima supported the stance of Trillanes, saying the second anniversary of the Mamasapano incident is again being used by Duterte to divert attention from the crisis his current leadership is facing.

“This appears to be the primary motivation of the President in continuously harping on the Mamasapano incident. It is to continuously demonize the past administration in order to cover up for his own lack of accomplishments and direction after six months into his term,” she added.

But De Lima said any further probe on the Mamasapano incident “is best conducted shorn of politics.”

“Duterte is the least qualified in directing such a probe given his propensity for prejudgement and to preempt the results of any investigation, as he himself has already declared the Mamasapano police action as a CIA operation,” she added.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Wednesday said she scolded a chief records officer of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for the late filing of graft and usurpation raps against former PNP chief Alan Purisima and former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas.

She said the charges, filed on Tuesday, should have been filed in June last year before the Sandiganbayan.

Morales said she had asked the concerned employee to explain the delay in the filing of raps against the two PNP officials.

“I issued a show-cause order to explain within 24 hours why she should not be faulted for not filing the information contrary to the standing order of the Ombudsman that if you submit a case for filing, it should be within a reasonable time,” Morales said.

In April 2016, Morales found the two criminally liable for the botched operation to serve arrest warrants on Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2014.

Napeñas was found liable for taking orders from Purisima despite his suspension.

Purisima was dismissed from the service in June 2015, while Napeñas retired in July 2015. With Rey E. Requejo, Rio N. Araja and Maricel V. Cruz


TRIBUNE COMMENTARY

Time for genuine justice Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Thursday, 26 January 2017 00:00

With an independent fact-finding investigation ordered by Rody Duterte on the Mamasapano massacre that saw 44 Special Action Force commandos butchered by the armed Islamic rebels, and with then President Noynoy Aquino doing nothing to save the troopers, the relatives of the slain commandos may well find closure this time around, with a president who not only is an eyewitness to the indeciveness of Aquino to the point of allowing the massacre of the SAF troopers, but is also a president who is determined to provide justice and closure to the relatives of the 44 SAF troopers.

Truth is, Rody is the best witness for that independent probe, as he was present during the command conference with Aquino and heard and saw just how Aquino deliberately did nothing to save the lives of the SAF commandos, even when he, and even his generals, military and police, as well as the then interior chief, Mar Roxas, did not move at all to, at the very least, convince Aquino to order reinforcements and air assets to save the troopers.

And they all lied before the Senate and the House investigations into the massacre, especially Aquino, who refused to be held accountable and responsible for the botched Oplan Exodus.

And all his yellows in the Senate, especially Senators Antonio Trillanes and Leila de Lima, who now slam Rody for baring the truth and reopening a probe, were all for defending Aquino, Mar Roxas and the generals, with Leila even making an embarrassment of herself when she claimed that Aquino is not the Commander in Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), even when the Constitution says so.

And she did it to protect Aquino, even when he was guilty as hell for sending the 44 young men to their deaths, without lifting a finger or an order to help them, as they were being massacred by his precious Muslim butchers.

Also an embarrassment is Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who, even before a probe, already stated that Aquino was blameless and charged only two, who were her scapegoats.

READ MORE...

Not surprisingly, the Senate probe was called and pursued, but only to clear and protect Aquino, Roxas and the generals. But these senators had to have scapegoats, and they chose the then suspended PNP Gen. Alan Purisima and then SAF chief Getulio Napeñas, both of whom are who are also the scapegoats of Morales.

Morales charged them with graft and usurpation of authority. Really?

How on earth did Morales get that conclusion, given the fact that the operation could not have come about, without the approval and greenlight of Aquino?

Where would they gotten the funds, the logistics the intelligence from the Americans, and the drones, if Aquino had not given them the go-signal, given such a massive operation?

Purisima would order the SAF troopers to go get Marwan under Oplan Exodus?

No one would have moved without the greenlight of Aquino. So where was the usurpation of authority, since it was Aquino who had given them that authority?

Aquino was certainly wrong in authorizing a suspended PNP chief to take charge of the Mamasapano operations, with also the full knowledge of Napeñas that he had to follow what his superior then, Purisima, as authorized by Aquino and Aquino himself.

So why is Ombudsman Morales protecting the guilty, who is Aquino, despite the fact that he is no longer president?



In my view, Morales, as an Ombudsman, cannot be trusted to provide justice by charging the clearly the guilty, such as Aquino and Roxas, for starters.

She is only good at charging Aquino’s political foes, even without strong evidence, despite her claim of not being politically motivated and partisan.

This is probably the reason Rody has ordered an independent fact-finding team to probe the Mamasapano massacre and provide the justice the relatives of the slain 44 SAF commandos.

IMPEACH COMPLAINT

But perhaps there can be an end to the politically partisan Morales as Ombudsman, as the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman Dante Jimenez is reportedly considering filing an impeachment complaint against her.

He says he and the lawyers are studying the possibility of filing an impeachment complaint if she does not wake up to reality, he said.

Jimenez scored the failure of the Ombudsman to file multiple homicide charges against Aquino.

VACC, along with relatives of the slain police commandos, filed with the Ombudsman 44 counts of Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide under the Revised Penal Code against Aquino, Purisima and Napeñas over the deaths of the 44 SAF members.

Morales yesterday charged graft and usurpation of public functions charges against Purisima and Napeñas without charging her political patron, Aquino.

It is time she is impeached and tried for her sin of protecting Aquino and his allies and his role in Mamasapano.

----------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

EDITORIAL - Independent? Duterte's 'commission od seven" Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:36 AM January 27, 2017



Questions remain about the unfortunate police operation that led to the Mamasapano tragedy two years ago.

But three investigations—a comprehensive one by a Board of Inquiry constituted by the Philippine National Police, a controversial inquest conducted by the Senate, and an even more controversial one by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—have together given us a good picture of the circumstances and conditions that led to the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front regulars and three civilians. The Office of the Ombudsman has also (belatedly) charged two top police officials with graft and usurpation of authority.

What then do we make of President Duterte’s decision to convene “a commission of seven” to investigate the Mamasapano incident?

It seems promising.

 “They will be independent in all aspects,” the President said. “They are free to summon and as President, the executive department, I will order you to honor the process. We will bestow to the commission the powers exactly given to the Agrava Commission, iyong panahon sa pagkamatay ng Aquino (During the time of Ninoy Aquino’s death). Let us see.”

But Mr. Duterte, because he is who he is, didn’t stop there. He said a mouthful, and more, about what he said was the truth about the Mamasapano incident.

He said it was a CIA operation—that is, that the Mamasapano raid was an operation of the US spy agency. “Let it be brought out in the open. It was an American adventure with the cooperation of some and apparently with your blessing,” addressing his predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III.

He suggested that Aquino’s behavior during the command conference in Zamboanga City when the then president heard the bad news from Mamasapano was, well, weird.

“By the way, nung nandoon tayo sa (when we were at the) command conference, you went back and forth sa kwarto na maliit (in the little room),” he said, again addressing Aquino directly. He added: “Every time they went out I could see in your faces the—I cannot describe—ayaw kong insultuhin kayo (I don’t want to insult you), but I could sense that something really, really bad happened.”

He said that the SAF44 families needed “a respite”: “Otherwise, they will bring to their grave the hurt and agony that they had to endure losing a husband, a father, a brother.

COMPLETING THE INVESTIGATION

The investigation, you could have completed it.” He offered this explanation for “completing” the investigation without recognizing the extraordinary succor and assistance the surviving families of the SAF44 have already received and are continuing to receive from the government; this is special treatment that rankles the survivors of other police officers and especially soldiers who also perished in the line of duty.

These and similar statements suggest that this new independent commission may not be as independent as the President implies.

Would he accept a finding that showed—as the leadership of both the PNP and the Armed Forces insisted two years ago and insist today—that American involvement was limited to intelligence-sharing before the operation and emergency airlifts after?

Would he accept a finding that showed—as the SAF commanding officer at the time at first admitted—that operational control was limited to his level? Would he accept a finding that showed—as the PNP BOI report proved—that air strikes were not called because of the fog of confusion?

GRAVE MISTAKE

None of this is to say that the operation plan was flawless or that Aquino was blameless. As we have repeatedly emphasized, his decision to keep Alan Purisima, then the PNP chief serving a suspension, was a grave mistake.

But the question is: Will a commission appointed by the same President who has continued to accuse certain personalities of alleged involvement in the war on drugs without offering proof beyond a so-called narco-list, a President with very strong opinions about the subject of the study, truly be independent?


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