NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

PALACE ON PNoy APOLOGY: JUST GIVE HIM TIME


Both the reports of the Board of Inquiry and the Senate committees that probed the Mamasapano mission found that President Aquino allowed his buddy, resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, to participate in the botched operation despite his suspension back then over corruption allegations. Malacañang Photo Bureau file photo 
President Benigno Aquino III will continue to do what is right to ensure justice for the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Malacañang said Friday. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President and the government will make the appropriate action when it comes to explaining the Mamasapano tragedy and rectify the lapses that led to it.  "Hintayin na lang po natin. Magtiwala po tayo na alam niya ang kanyang tungkulin at nagpapasya po siya ng ayon sa pinakamainam para sa kanyang mga 'Boss,' ang mga mamamayang Pilipino," Coloma said in an interview with radio DZXL RMN. READ MORE...

ALSO Noy quells rumors: No breakdown, no head injury


Photo taken last Friday shows President Aquino and NHCP chair Maria Serena Diokno leading the raising of the Philippine flag during the inauguration of the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite.  MANILA, Philippines - No, he didn’t have a nervous breakdown or fall and hit his head and become incoherent.  In a phone conversation shortly before noon yesterday, President Aquino assured The STAR he was fine amidst rumors that circulated late Friday night that he had collapsed or was near catatonic and unresponsive.  The President said his personal doctor, who sees him “almost every week,” has consistently given him a clean bill of health, except for bouts of hyperacidicty brought about by missing meals, such as when he spent over 13 hours straight talking to families of the slain police commandos after the necrological service at Camp Bagong Diwa last Jan. 30. All he had to eat the whole day, a source revealed, was a sandwich.  The President also has an intermittent smoker’s cough.  Malacañang also assured the public yesterday that President Aquino is doing fine. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: House bloc says, Palace should worry about survey results instead of bragging about it
[But Malacañang said work would just have to continue despite controversies brought about by Mamasapano. The President was never distracted from what he has to do for the country and that becoming a “lame duck” leader because of the Mamasapano controversy was not a concern as the administration endeavored from day one to answer all questions pertaining to the incident while continuing to work[.


President Aquino leads the flag-raising rites during the opening of the modernized Museo ni Emillio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite yesterday. WILLY PEREZ  .....House bloc chair Romualdez likened Aquino to a child who puts too much food on the plate and refused to finish it after eating only the delicious portions. “Eat your veggies. You signed up for all these when you filed your certificate of candidacy. Don’t say you didn’t want this job when you ran, and that you ran because of the clamor. When you ran for president, you wanted it,” Romualdez said. Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he also does not support calls for Aquino to resign but warned that he should shape up. READ FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO: Survey won’t derail pursuit of peace’ -- Palace


MILF commitement process  MANILA, Philippines - There is no reason to abandon the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite weakened public support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after the Mamasapano incident, Malacañang said yesterday.  Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said although 44 percent of Filipinos are opposed to the passage of BBL – the legal basis for the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao and the fruit of the peace negotiations with the MILF – the government could continue its drive to win back support for it.  Public trust in the MILF was shattered by the Mamasapano incident. The SAF commandos were on a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his local cohort Basit Usman in Mamasapano last Jan. 25, but members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its breakaway faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups attacked the SAF, resulting in the deaths of 44 SAF men.  Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said it would be best to seek justice for the 44 SAF troopers in a climate of peace. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Congress fails to OK Noy powers


President Aquino, earlier photo...
MANILA, Philippines - Congress begins today its six-week Lenten break after failing to approve a joint resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers to deal with a projected electricity shortage in Luzon this summer. The Senate and House of Representatives conference committee on the proposed joint resolution did not agree to have a third meeting this week to break a deadlock on the measure. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, the minority’s representative in the House contingent in the bicameral conference, yesterday said contingent members held a caucus on Tuesday but voted to stick to their chamber’s version of the resolution, which is different from that of the Senate. “Our team was insisting on the no-pass on cost to consumers and limiting the exercise of special powers from this month to July this year, when a shortage is projected,” he said. On the other hand, senators want the consumer to shoulder any cost involved and to extend the validity of emergency authority up to July next year, he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: De Lima admits Noy made error in judgment’


De Lima says P-Noy’s accountability not criminal
 Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has admitted that President Aquino is accountable for the death of 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the Jan. 25 raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. De Lima, however, stressed that the President’s accountability is not criminal. “That is an error in judgment that one can only know from hindsight. As we all know, hindsight is 50-50, and it is so easy to play armchair presidents these days,” De Lima said in a speech at the annual district conference of Rotary International last Friday. De Lima maintained that the President has no criminal liability pertaining to supposed violation of the chain of command in the Philippine National Police (PNP), which she insisted does not exist. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘SAF troopers got Army soldiers drunk before Mamasapano raid’


Philstar.com/File  MANILA, Philippines - Special Action Force (SAF) troopers deliberately excluded the military from the Mamasapano operation by inviting Army officers for a drink on the night the elite police entered the area to arrest wanted terrorists, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said. Citing information from a Senate executive session, Trillanes said the SAF had wanted to take all the credit for the operation, which led to a fierce firefight that resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos. “On the same night the SAF operated, they invited the brigade commander and the battalion commander of the Army for a drink. The intelligence officer of the PNP (Philippine National Police), they invited to a drink,” Trillanes told radio station dzMM on Saturday. “Their objective is to ensure that the Army would not be able to operate because they want to do the mission alone,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO Aquino: Purisima let me down; President wanted Espina involved in Mamasapano mission


President Benigno S. Aquino III and resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima. (Photo by Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau / PCOO)  MANILA, Philippines–He had always defended and stood by Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, but this time, President Aquino appeared to have drawn the line following what he felt was a betrayal by his close friend who disobeyed his orders. “If ever I [was at] fault here, it was [because I trusted] these people. Why did I fail to detect that they were misleading me?” the President said on Saturday night. He was referring to Purisima, then the suspended PNP chief, and the sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, who both briefed him on Jan. 9 about the police operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”  While the operation successfully took down Marwan, who top security officials said had been recruiting for the Middle East jihadist group Islamic State (IS), it ended in disaster for the SAF, with 44 commandos getting killed in an ambush by Moro rebels.  Seventeen guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace agreement with the government in March last year, and three civilians were also killed in the fighting that lasted 12 hours. His handling of the debacle has mired Aquino in the deepest political crisis of his presidency, with critics calling for his resignation and, according to the most recent Pulse Asia survey, 79 percent of Filipinos not believing he had said everything he knew about the Mamasapano debacle. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Palace on PNoy apology: Just give him time


Both the reports of the Board of Inquiry and the Senate committees that probed the Mamasapano mission found that President Aquino allowed his buddy, resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, to participate in the botched operation despite his suspension back then over corruption allegations. Malacañang Photo Bureau file photo

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will continue to do what is right to ensure justice for the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Malacañang said Friday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President and the government will make the appropriate action when it comes to explaining the Mamasapano tragedy and rectify the lapses that led to it.

"Hintayin na lang po natin. Magtiwala po tayo na alam niya ang kanyang tungkulin at nagpapasya po siya ng ayon sa pinakamainam para sa kanyang mga 'Boss,' ang mga mamamayang Pilipino," Coloma said in an interview with radio DZXL RMN.

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Coloma gave the same response when asked why Aquino has not apologized for the fatal January 25 operation.

"Maraming nagpahayag ng saloobin hinggil diyan. At kung maari lang ay sabihin ko na lang muli na batid iyan ng ating Pangulo, at handa naman siyang gawin iyong narararapat. Bigyan na lang po natin siya ng pagkakataon," he said.

When asked on what inhibits Aquino from making an apology, Coloma said the President fears nothing.

Aquino has been under heavy fire for supposedly mishandling the Mamasapano operation and for assigning all the blame to relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas instead of admitting his possible lapses.

Both the reports of the Board of Inquiry and the Senate committees that probed the Mamasapano mission found that Aquino allowed his buddy, resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, to participate in the botched operation despite his suspension back then over corruption allegations.

According to recent Pulse Asia survey, 79 percent of Filipinos think that Aquino's explanation regarding the Mamasapano operation has been insufficient.


PHILSTAR

Noy quells rumors: No breakdown, no head injury By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 22, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo taken last Friday shows President Aquino and NHCP chair Maria Serena Diokno leading the raising of the Philippine flag during the inauguration of the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite.

MANILA, Philippines - No, he didn’t have a nervous breakdown or fall and hit his head and become incoherent.

In a phone conversation shortly before noon yesterday, President Aquino assured The STAR he was fine amidst rumors that circulated late Friday night that he had collapsed or was near catatonic and unresponsive.

The President said his personal doctor, who sees him “almost every week,” has consistently given him a clean bill of health, except for bouts of hyperacidicty brought about by missing meals, such as when he spent over 13 hours straight talking to families of the slain police commandos after the necrological service at Camp Bagong Diwa last Jan. 30. All he had to eat the whole day, a source revealed, was a sandwich.

The President also has an intermittent smoker’s cough.

Malacañang also assured the public yesterday that President Aquino is doing fine.

CONTINUE READING...
“I have communicated with the President regarding the rumors circulating tonight that he had collapsed, and he immediately responded to my text with ‘No such thing’,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said a text message at past 1:30 a.m. yesterday as the Palace was bombarded with queries on Aquino’s condition.

“We hope this settles the issue tonight and may we ask media to disseminate the information accurately,” Lacierda added.

Also yesterday, the Palace issued an advisory that the President would visit the New Executive Building inside the Malacañang compound where the media covering Aquino were housed but this was called off due to time constraints. A source also said Aquino will be with his family today for their regular Sunday gathering.

A tweet about Aquino’s collapse was preceded and followed by wild speculations, like he was in state of shock and could not talk comprehensively with anyone, that he tripped and fell, hitting his head on the floor but refused to be taken to the hospital, that his sisters had rushed to the Palace to take care of him, and that he had an argument with the owner of a television station and broke down.

“As you know I was in Kawit yesterday (Friday) inaugurating the museum,” Aquino told The STAR, that his team of close-in security makes sure that he does not trip and fall and hit his head.

Aquino’s critics had recently been pressing calls for his resignation because of the alleged failures of his administration, including the incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 where 44 police commandos were killed.

But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over dzRB there had been no indications that the President would give in that easily, as he had been continuously working and has not complained about anything related to his health.

“The last week that I have been with the President, he has been okay. He never mentioned any ailment,” Valte said. “But I can assure you that the President’s health is in good condition, according to his physician.”

The President on Friday inaugurated the modernized Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite and met with a number of people at the Palace.

She lamented that the rumors were quite strange, coming from out of the blue.

“But I recall this is not the first time that this happened. I think around two to three years ago, we were also suddenly asked about a Cabinet secretary who supposedly collapsed in Malacañang and, of course, there was no truth to that. And also, a similar rumor came out (involving) one of our high-ranking GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation) officials…another unfounded rumor. So we really don’t know where these things come from,” Valte said.

She appealed for prudence in disseminating sensitive information like that concerning Aquino’s health condition given its implications and the alarm or panic it could cause because of his position.


PHILSTAR

House bloc: Palace should worry about survey results By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 21, 2015 - 12:00am


President Aquino leads the flag-raising rites during the opening of the modernized Museo ni Emillio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite yesterday. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang should be worried by the latest survey that showed 42 percent of Filipinos do not want President Aquino to resign instead of bragging about it, the independent bloc in the House of Representatives said yesterday.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the bloc, said more than half of Filipinos either want Aquino to resign now or are ambivalent about his performance in office based on the latest Pulse Asia survey.

“There’s nothing to crow about,” he added. “Resigning or impeaching him is actually the easy way out for him.”

He also said Malacañang and its allies in Congress are trying to put a spin to the survey by saying it reflected support from Filipinos. Many lawmakers, including those in the opposition, while very disappointed with Aquino’s governance, do not want him to resign but to finish the remainder of his term.

“Why should we let him (Aquino) off easily from all his failures and blunders? He’s now washing his hands of many tragedies, including this Mamasapano incident, but he should take both the good and the bad that accompany any presidency,” the House leader said.

Romualdez likened Aquino to a child who puts too much food on the plate and refused to finish it after eating only the delicious portions.

“Eat your veggies. You signed up for all these when you filed your certificate of candidacy. Don’t say you didn’t want this job when you ran, and that you ran because of the clamor. When you ran for president, you wanted it,” Romualdez said.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he also does not support calls for Aquino to resign but warned that he should shape up.

“There are many like me who are concerned with the natural flow of the constitutional mandate. But he should make major improvements because we also don’t want him to cause any further damage even if he’s already a lame duck,” Atienza said.

Palace: Work has to continue

But Malacañang said work would just have to continue despite controversies brought about by Mamasapano.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President was never distracted from what he has to do for the country and that becoming a “lame duck” leader because of the Mamasapano controversy was not a concern as the administration endeavored from day one to answer all questions pertaining to the incident while continuing to work.

Coloma also said the President would just do what is right in the remainder of his office and not be boxed in a “survey mindset” or do whatever is popular. The administration would intensify efforts to achieve set goals and remain focused on what should be done.

“Maybe there will be some fine-tuning of what we need to do in the remaining months of his term. While some will dwell on the negative, it is the contrary on our part, our spirits are not dampened,” Coloma .added.


PHILSTAR

Survey won’t derail pursuit of peace’ - Palace  By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 21, 2015 - 12:00am


MILF commitement process

MANILA, Philippines - There is no reason to abandon the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite weakened public support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after the Mamasapano incident, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said although 44 percent of Filipinos are opposed to the passage of BBL – the legal basis for the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao and the fruit of the peace negotiations with the MILF – the government could continue its drive to win back support for it.

Public trust in the MILF was shattered by the Mamasapano incident. The SAF commandos were on a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his local cohort Basit Usman in Mamasapano last Jan. 25, but members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its breakaway faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups attacked the SAF, resulting in the deaths of 44 SAF men.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said it would be best to seek justice for the 44 SAF troopers in a climate of peace.

CONTINUE READING.....
Coloma also said the Aquino administration would double its efforts to explain and make the public understand the proposed BBL as a big component of the peace process.

Malacañang welcomes the plans of Congress to resume hearings on the bill next month, expressing confidence that these would be an opportunity to clarify all aspects regarding the proposal.

Coloma said so much time has been spent studying the issue, but the Mamasapano incident opened the opportunity to answer questions surrounding the peace negotiations with the MILF.

MILF won’t surrender its men

However, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim earlier said that the MILF members who figured in the clash with the SAF cannot be held criminally liable on the basis that MILF is a “revolutionary organization.”

Yesterday, Murad announced that the MILF would not surrender any of its men that figured in the Mamasapano encounter even if found to have transgressed the MILF’s ceasefire accord with government.

He said the MILF would prosecute in its Sharia court its members found to have violated the group’s revolutionary policies when they engaged the SAF commandos.

But Malacañang stressed yesterday that Philippine laws cover the MILF members who murdered 44 SAF troopers, so the Moro rebels are not immune from criminal liability.

“Law enforcement is the sole prerogative and power of the government, and it is within the jurisdiction of the department to define the legal regime for any cases that they will file, and against whom,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

On Thursday, Murad and Von Al-Haq, spokesman for the MILF’s military wing the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, announced that their Special Investigative Commission has completed its probe on the Mamasapano encounter.

The MILF’s initial findings showed that only 17 and not 18 MILF rebels were killed in the clash. There were also indications that the cadavers of some of the SAF men were used as “shields” by their companions as they engaged MILF forces in combat.

“That explains why some of them had bullet wounds as if they were shot at close range,” Al-Haq told reporters.

MILF’s chief negotiator Muhaquer Iqbal said their Mamasapano report would be channeled through Malaysia, the facilitator of their peace talks with government.

It is Malaysia that would release the report to the government peace panel, a procedure that the government and MILF bilaterally agreed on more than a decade ago.

Malacañang was quite soft in compelling the MILF to provide the government peace panel a copy of the Mamasapano report.

“The government peace panel is waiting for the official report of the International Monitoring Team which will also contain relevant information reflected from the MILF report,” Valte said.

Coddling terrorists MILF’s ‘first sin’

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and the Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation concluded in their joint report that the MILF is at fault for coddling terrorists while working for a peace agreement with the government.

“It bears emphasizing that the first sin in the Mamasapano incident is the fact that the MILF leadership and community allowed themselves to coddle criminals and terrorists,” reads the Senate report, which was presented by Sen. Grace Poe to the public last Tuesday. – With John Unson, Christina Mendez, Delon Porcalla


PHILSTAR

Congress fails to OK Noy powers (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 21, 2015 - 12:00am


President Aquino, earlier photo...

MANILA, Philippines - Congress begins today its six-week Lenten break after failing to approve a joint resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers to deal with a projected electricity shortage in Luzon this summer.

The Senate and House of Representatives conference committee on the proposed joint resolution did not agree to have a third meeting this week to break a deadlock on the measure.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, the minority’s representative in the House contingent in the bicameral conference, yesterday said contingent members held a caucus on Tuesday but voted to stick to their chamber’s version of the resolution, which is different from that of the Senate.

“Our team was insisting on the no-pass on cost to consumers and limiting the exercise of special powers from this month to July this year, when a shortage is projected,” he said.

On the other hand, senators want the consumer to shoulder any cost involved and to extend the validity of emergency authority up to July next year, he said.

READ MORE...
Albano pointed out that despite the failure of Congress to ratify the joint resolution, the so-called interruptible load program (ILP), which the measure would have empowered the President to carry out, would kick in starting this month whenever there is tight supply.

Registered participants under the ILP would be disconnected from the Luzon power grid and would have to use their own generators in cases of “red alert” or tight supply, which would happen if demand picks up or a power plant suddenly breaks down.

The goal is to give whatever supply is available in the grid to household users and avert rotating blackouts.

ILP participants would be given reasonable reimbursement as determined by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Albano said the ERC, Department of Energy, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, Meralco and other concerned state agencies and private stakeholders would implement the program.

However, with the failure of Congress to approve the joint resolution, consumers would now have to pay for the cost of the program, instead of it being taken from the Malamapaya Fund as the House had proposed, said Albano.

In effect, senators got what they wanted, he said.

Senate energy committee chairman Sergio Osmeña III has said they wanted consumers to bear the cost of ILP, as this is the policy under the law.

Disturbing the policy would not be good for investments, Osmeña said.


PHILSTAR

De Lima admits Noy made error in judgment’; But his accountability not criminal By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2015 - 12:00am


De Lima says P-Noy’s accountability not criminal

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has admitted that President Aquino is accountable for the death of 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the Jan. 25 raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

De Lima, however, stressed that the President’s accountability is not criminal.

“That is an error in judgment that one can only know from hindsight. As we all know, hindsight is 50-50, and it is so easy to play armchair presidents these days,” De Lima said in a speech at the annual district conference of Rotary International last Friday.

De Lima maintained that the President has no criminal liability pertaining to supposed violation of the chain of command in the Philippine National Police (PNP), which she insisted does not exist.

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“From the beginning, we in the DOJ (Department of Justice) have been clear in saying that the chain of command as a military construct is not applicable to the PNP, especially in relation to the President’s prerogatives,” she stressed.

De Lima made the distinction on the functions of the President as chief executive and as commander-in-chief.

She said being the chief executive is what Aquino exercises on a daily basis, while the role of commander-in-chief emphasizes civilian supremacy over the military.

“I mention this distinction not to minimize or lessen the President’s command responsibility in either scenario, if, when we speak of ‘command responsibility,’ we speak of accountability. The President is of course accountable. No question about it,” she pointed out.

“However, the distinction is important when we ask whether he has anything to account for in, as some say, ‘violating the chain of command’,” she added.

De Lima contested the premise used in the Board of Inquiry (BOI) and Senate reports on the Mamasapano incident.

She questioned the BOI and Senate findings, which was supported by former President Fidel Ramos who cited an executive order he issued during his term applying the chain of command to the PNP.

De Lima said the EO only provided for application of “command of superior responsibility” in cases of accountability of officials on the basis of certain standards like knowledge and negligence.

She reiterated her call for the public not to judge Aquino following the BOI and Senate reports that pointed to him as “ultimately responsible” for the encounter.

“The President should not be judged that easily because this President is a very responsible person and he has the interest of our country at heart,” she said.

De Lima called the supposed prejudgment on Aquino based on the BOI and Senate reports as “unfair.”

Malacañang maintained the President has been judged both in the Senate and the BOI report without hearing his side of the story.

The BOI said Aquino broke the chain of command by dealing with suspended national police chief Alan Purisima and relieved SAF commander Director Getulio Napeñas with regard to the operation but later clarified it did not mean he violated anything.

The Senate, on the other hand, found the President ultimately responsible for the incident even if Malacañang had been saying that his orders were disobeyed by his subordinates.

Aquino has categorically and repeatedly blamed Napeñas for the massacre of 44 policemen in Mamasapano.

Aquino had stressed he was lied to and misled by his officials over the bungled police operation.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino would still be willing to explain to the public whatever needs expounding, so the public may know and see the big picture.

“The President’s communication policy is clear: A well-informed citizenry will be sufficiently guided in decision-making and in determining the actions they wish to pursue,” Coloma said.

“Hence, government has endeavored at all times to give all the necessary information in the spirit of openness and transparency and to promote accountability in the public service,” he added.

Coloma urged the public to communicate with the President their sentiments and feedback on pressing issues through the President’s website and social media accounts.

“The government is willing to provide information and explanation, not only on the Mamasapano incident, but on all pressing issues and problems our country is facing,” Coloma said.

“We are open to any suggestions from our bosses, our citizens, on how to better implement policy and programs of the government,” he added.

Public outrage over the killing of the SAF policemen and questions surrounding Aquino’s handling of the issue have blow up into his biggest political crisis.

The Mamasapano fiasco turned into a rallying point for critics calling on Aquino to resign.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, thumbed down calls for the President’s resignation over the mishandling of the Mamasapano incident.

“I’m not party to that (calls for Aquino’s resignation). He was elected… let him finish his term,” Binay said.

Binay said the allegations and accusations of Aquino’s critics were not sufficient for the President to step down.

Binay said however that the Aquino administration would have to reconsider its position on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) following Mamasapano.

Binay stressed the government should not rush the passage of the BBL.

The BBL, drafted under the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will be ratified through a plebiscite.

Deliberations on the BBL were stalled following the involvement of the MILF in the killing of elite police in Mamasapano on Jan. 25.

The slain policemen were part of the SAF team on a mission to capture one of the world’s most wanted terrorists hiding in a remote village in Mamasapano.

The raiding lawmen figured in firefight with MILF and the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as they were about to leave the area. – With Delon Porcalla, Roel Pareño


PHILSTAR

‘SAF troopers got Army soldiers drunk before Mamasapano raid’
By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2015 - 12:00am


Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - Special Action Force (SAF) troopers deliberately excluded the military from the Mamasapano operation by inviting Army officers for a drink on the night the elite police entered the area to arrest wanted terrorists, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said.

Citing information from a Senate executive session, Trillanes said the SAF had wanted to take all the credit for the operation, which led to a fierce firefight that resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos.

“On the same night the SAF operated, they invited the brigade commander and the battalion commander of the Army for a drink. The intelligence officer of the PNP (Philippine National Police), they invited to a drink,” Trillanes told radio station dzMM on Saturday.

“Their objective is to ensure that the Army would not be able to operate because they want to do the mission alone,” he added.

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SAF officials have denied that the policemen involved in the Mamasapano operation were motivated by the juicy rewards.

The police commandos involved in the Jan. 25 operation were targeting Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman. Marwan carried a $5-million bounty on his head, while a $1-million reward has been offered for Usman.

Marwan was killed during the raid, while Usman managed to escape and is believed to be hiding in Maguindanao.

The mission, however, proved to be costly as 44 SAF members were killed in a clash with the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups.

The lack of coordination between the military and the police has been blamed for the clash, which erupted as the government and the MILF push for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a measure that will implement the peace deal they signed last year by creating a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao with greater economic and political powers.

The Mamasapano clash has created a rift among the military and police as the two institutions have blamed each other for the bloody incident.


INIQUIRER

Aquino: Purisima let me down; President wanted Espina involved in Mamasapano mission Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:52 AM | Monday, March 23rd, 2015


President Benigno S. Aquino III and resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima. (Photo by Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau / PCOO)

MANILA, Philippines–He had always defended and stood by Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, but this time, President Aquino appeared to have drawn the line following what he felt was a betrayal by his close friend who disobeyed his orders.

“If ever I [was at] fault here, it was [because I trusted] these people. Why did I fail to detect that they were misleading me?” the President said on Saturday night.

He was referring to Purisima, then the suspended PNP chief, and the sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, who both briefed him on Jan. 9 about the police operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

While the operation successfully took down Marwan, who top security officials said had been recruiting for the Middle East jihadist group Islamic State (IS), it ended in disaster for the SAF, with 44 commandos getting killed in an ambush by Moro rebels.

Seventeen guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace agreement with the government in March last year, and three civilians were also killed in the fighting that lasted 12 hours.

His handling of the debacle has mired Aquino in the deepest political crisis of his presidency, with critics calling for his resignation and, according to the most recent Pulse Asia survey, 79 percent of Filipinos not believing he had said everything he knew about the Mamasapano debacle.

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The deaths of the SAF commandos have drawn widespread public anger and thrown into doubt the completion of the peace process with the MILF.

The scandal that broke following the disclosure that he took part in the planning and execution of the SAF mission forced Purisima to resign as PNP chief.

When Aquino accepted Purisima’s resignation on Feb. 6, he said in a speech that he did so with a heavy heart as he praised his friend.

Espina should know

On Saturday, the President stressed that knowing full well Purisima was suspended, his only directive to him was to coordinate with the PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

Aquino said he stressed this to Purisima because on Jan. 8, at a meeting for the visit of Pope Francis, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia informed him that Espina was “not in the loop” in the hunt for Marwan, his compatriot Amin Baco and their Filipino associate Basit Usman.

The President said he wondered why, but he did not pursue an answer during the meeting.

By sheer coincidence, however, Purisima sent him a text message that day to inform him that Napeñas wanted to brief him about the counterterrorism operation.

Aquino said he told Purisima he was free to meet Napeñas on Jan. 9, after he arrived from an official trip to Romblon province.

Because he already knew that Espina was out of the loop, Aquino said he emphasized to Purisima the need to inform the PNP officer in charge.

“I told Alan that it has come to my attention that Dindo Espina does not know and he is not [in] the loop and you tell him, tell him everything, to which I believe there was an acquiescence. I would not have let him go had he said, ‘Sir, he should not know.’ I would not agree to that. Now [on Jan.] 25, that was when I found out that that was also another order that was not carried out,” Aquino said.

Why was Espina not in the Jan. 9 meeting?

‘Subject matter expert’

The President said Purisima was the “subject matter expert” in the hunt for the terrorists and even before he was suspended, Purisima had been briefing him on different police operations.

“Alan would have to brief Director Espina, who was the understudy and had to catch up, and then he (Espina) would brief me. [But] then I [could] have the guy who was on top of all this before,” Aquino said.

He stressed that Purisima was at the meeting “not to command or plan anything but just to help me understand what Napeñas and his people were talking about.”

Coordination with MILF

Aquino also said that Napeñas’ PowerPoint presentation showed coordination with the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, which is required under the peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

The President also said that he stressed the importance of coordinating the police operation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines days before the departure of the SAF commandos for Mamasapano.

“If there were concerns [about] operational security, then I told him (Napeñas) to talk to one person in the AFP who could coordinate once the operation is about to begin,” Aquino said.

After the debacle in Mamasapano, Aquino said he texted Purisima to ask him why his orders to brief Espina were not carried out.

“I asked him, ‘I told you this. I ordered you to do this. Why wasn’t it done?’”

And what did Purisima say?

No answer

“He did not respond. I guess there is no answer,” the President said.

Aquino did not answer directly when the Inquirer asked him if he and Purisima remained friends.

Instead, he said: “At one point, I will have to ask them (Purisima and Napenñas), ‘What were you thinking? Why did this happen?’ We’ll just finish all this and I will ask him (Purisima) and Napeñas as well, ‘What’s wrong with my orders to you?’”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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