MANILA — Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina on Wednesday appealed to let the Board of Inquiry (BOI) determine the truth on the Mamasapano, Maguindanao clash that resulted to the death of 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) last Jan. 25.
“A BOI was created for purposes of meeting the objective in knowing what I and the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) Mar Roxas, and everybody in the hierarchy would like to know what really happened. The BOI (would) cover the police ops (operation) that transpired,” Espina said during a press conference held in Camp Crame.
He added that they have now the statements and continues to interview men and women involved for the ongoing investigation regarding the incident.
”As of now, hindi ko talaga alam mga nilalaman lahat ng mga statements but they have taken 293 statements from a possible 420 plus or more to be interviewed so that we achieve the objective to know what really happened from start to end, and we were given one month,” he noted.
Espina also said that he was informed by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) head Director General Benjamin Magalong that they are still waiting for the report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“The other day, we met with our AFP counterparts (and) they assured us (that) they will give full cooperation with the BOI. We will base all conclusions on facts and not conjectures or hearsays,” he said.
The PNP-OIC also reacted to the statement of former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas who earlier admitted that he was reporting directly to suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima.
Purisima was suspended on December 2014 due to alleged questionable transactions.
The sacked PNP-SAF chief also admitted that Purisima told him not to inform PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina about the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“Hindi ako puwedeng dumiretso kay (DILG Secretary) Manuel Roxas II kasi ma-violate ko ang chain of command,” Napenas said in a separate press conference when asked if Purisima also ordered him not to tell Roxas.
The relieved PNP-SAF commander also maintained that their mission was successful and offered to resign if the DNA test on the samples collected by the commandos during the operation proved they had missed Jemaah Islamiya (JI) Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
“Magre-resign na ako kung hindi si Marwan ang target. Malaki ang kredibilidad na siya ‘yung target at namatay sa operation (I will resign if the target was not Marwan),” he said.
For his part, Espina said he has no knowledge if it’s true that Napenas reports directly to Purisima.
“But strictly speaking, (sa) chain of command natin I stand as OIC, I should have been informed,” he added.
Espina also maintained that the PNP as peacekeepers still backs the peace process with the MILF.
“We behave according to the protocol of the discussion. We expect the other party to behave,” he said.
The PNP OIC also called on the Moro troops to return the weapons and equipment they took from the slain 44 SAF men.
“To the….. who encountered my people and who have our equipment, isoli ninyo. Pinatay ninyo na lahat ng tao ko pati equipment namin kukunin ninyo. May usapin tayo. That’s not yours, don’t sell that,” he said.