MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. expressed his opinion that there was no breach in the chain of command, on the part of President Benigno Aquino III, in the event of the disastrous January 25 raid conducted by commandos from the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Forty-four elite police were slaughtered in the operation.
Speaking on Wednesday to members of the press, Catapang said: “I don’t think so. There was no break in the chain of command,” as he explained that Aquino, as commander-in-chief, cannot be held liable for the turnout of the operation.
Catapang emphasized that in November 2014, Aquino informed him of the SAF’s plan to conduct the raid in order to capture terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman, and that he was also ordered by the president to keep in close coordination with the SAF regarding the operation.
According to the AFP Catapang, it was likely a failure on the part of the AFP and the PNP to comply with Aquino’s directive to maintain close coordination that led to the tragedy..
“You know, we were ordered by the President to coordinate and I think we failed in that order to coordinate,” he said.
“I think that’s the price we have to pay for not having a well-coordinated plan on how to support them if and when there will be problems during the execution of the operation,” he added, notingthat it is now the job of the Board of Inquiry to pinpoint where exactly this coordination failed.