MANILA, Mar 10 (Mabuhay) – Opposition Senator JV Ejercito on Tuesday scored President Benigno Aquino III for putting the police panel that investigated the January 25 Mamasapano clash in an awkward position.
Ejercito said Aquino preempted the submission of the report of the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (BOI) – which is set on Thursday – when he publicly blamed relieved Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. for the supposed errors in the implementation of Oplan Exodus.
“It put the Board of Inquiry in an awkward position as it just announced it was asking for an extension yesterday morning, then Aquino preempted by narrating his account of the Mamasapano incident extricating himself and putting the blame on Napeñas,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito said it was hard to believe that Napeñas fooled Aquino when the President was with the top police and military brass, as well as top officials of the security departments, at the time of the mission.
Forty-four SAF members were killed when the operation resulted in a clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). The clash occurred despite the peace agreement signed by the government with the MILF last year.
The MILF, which said it was acting on self-defense, claimed it lost 18 of its men in the encounter. Five civilians were also reportedly killed in the incident.
Poe disappointed with PNP-BOI
For her part, Senator Grace Poe, who led the Senate investigation on the same issue, expressed disappointment over the BOI’s failure to submit its report on Monday as it earlier promised.
“Nagbitaw na po sila ng salita na ito (report) ay magiging handa kaya nga po ang iba ay nag-iisip kung ano po ang nangyari noong Sabado at Linggo na bigla silang nagsabi na kailangan pa nila ng oras,” she said in a radio interview.
“Alam niyo po bago pa magbitiw ng salita, dapat nakakasiguro ka na na halos kumpleto na kung magbibigay ka ng petsa so hindi nga natin maintindihan. Ayaw nga natin sila pagdudahan kaya lang siyempre we cannot help it, especially kapag naging ganito yung statement,” she added.
Poe, however, does not want to link the deferment on the submission of BOI report to Aquino’s speech, which happened on Monday afternoon. She said the BOI can just use Aquino’s statement in their report since the body was not able to interview him.
“Siyempre yung pagdududa hindi naman talaga tayo makakasiguro, pero hindi ko alam kung yung pagsasalita ng Pangulo, dahil hindi nga siya nagbigay ng statement sa BOI diumano, siguro ay pwedeng magamit din ng BOI ang salaysay ng Pangulo doon sa kanyang extemporaneous statement sa kanyang event sa Malacañang,” said Poe.
Chiz defends Aquino
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero believes Aquino did not intend to put the blame on Napeñas.
“Surely, Napeñas had lapses and had several opportunities to either abort the mission or save lives as the day went on. However, the action/inaction/lapses, as the case may be, of the MILF, GRP/ceasefire committee, PNP, Purisima, AFP, and PNoy should be the proper subject matter of any fact-finding, whether by the Senate or the BOI,” he said in a text message.
“PNoy, I guess, was simply narrating his account of the Mamasapano massacre and did not intend to simply pin Napeñas as that is not his function but, rather, that of the investigative and/or fact-finding bodies,” he added.
Hours before Aquino made the statement, BOI chief Director Benjamin Magalong said he will submit the report on Thursday.
The report was originally scheduled to be submitted by the end of February, but was deferred to March 6. Last week, it was announced that the report would be submitted, Monday, March 9.
Magalong also said that resigned PNP chief Director Alan Purisima refused to be interviewed by the BOI. The BOI also expressed intentions to interview the Aquino but did not receive a reply from the Office of the President. (MNS)