MANILA – Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on Monday clarified that he was just giving advice when he told to sacked Special Action Force (SAF) chief Police Director Getulio Napenas not to tell to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina about the actual planning of ‘Oplan Exodus’ operation in Mapasapano, Maguindanao.
”I did not give any order to any PNP official or personnel regarding the Oplan Exodus. But if ever I uttered words to that effect, it was in the form of advice, not as directive or order,” Purisima said during the Senate inquiry into the incident that killed 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) commandos on January 25.
Purisima said Napenas, being the SAF commander, should know very well that he should not follow orders from anyone who is not in the chain of command or suspended officer.
The former PNP chief, who resigned last week amid speculations that he directed the operation, insisted that he has no role in Mamasapano operation that killed one of its targets – international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
”During that time, Napenas informed that they have already jumped off, that was already in the morning,” Purisima said.
When Senator Teofisto Guingona III inquired what motivated Purisima to advice Napenas not to inform Roxas and Espina about the ‘Oplan Exodus’, Purisma said he was just following the SAF’s plan that they will give information time-on-target or during the actual operation.
”What was your motive in giving advice not to tell acting PNP chief and Secretary Roxas and you even said you to Napenas not to worry about Gen. (Pio) Catapang?,” Guingona inquired.
”There is motivation your honor. That is just following what was written in their plan that they will give information time on target and that included me,” Purisima said.
Guingona turned to Napenas who told the Senate panel that although he acted on his own, “it was based on the text message to me by General Purisima” on Jan. 19.
”I received a text message from Gen. Purisima on January 19, 2015 at 6:31 in the evening. He asked: Leo what is your plan? I responded: sir good pm. The plan for the operation is a go on the timeline which is January 23 to 26….”
Napenas said his message to Purisma was based on the continuing operation to capture Marwan and Basit Usman, another high-valued target, that include “Oplan Wolverine” on April 25, 2014, and ‘Oplan Terminator 1 and 2’ in November last year.
”It is (Oplan Exodus) a continuing operation which was previously approved by Police Director Purisima when was still the chief of the PNP,” Napenas said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked to interpret Purisima’s statement not to inform Espina and Roxas about the operation.
”Gen. Purisima is the focal person who is constantly being asked by the President as to the mission. This was manifested by the fact that when we we’re presenting mission updates, he is being constantly consulted by the President,” Napenas answered.
Napenas said he was aware that Purisima was already suspended and not already part of the chain of command when they met on January 9 together with President Aquino at the Bahay Pangarap.
Napenas said he took Purisima’s supposed advice as ‘statement considering he was the one being asked by the President on the intricacies of the operation and he is the one principal officer who has the intelligence pocket.”
The sacked SAF chief confirmed that President Aquino gave instruction to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) about the operation.
Napenas also clarified the President has no instruction not to send reinforcement when the 392-member SAP team encountered with combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedomg Fighters (BIFF).
Maj. Gen Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also denied reports that the President gave instruction to the AFP not to send reinforcement.
”There was none. In fact, I don’t have direct communication with the President,” Pangilinan said.
”We just want to clarify that because there are a lot of propagandists trying to shift the issue that there was an order that’s why a lot of our SAF troops killed because President Aquino allegedly ordered not to reinforce,” Trillanes explained his line of questioning.
Due to lack of coordination, the PNP SAF men suffered 44 casualties and 15 wounded during a whole day firefight.
Contrary to the MILF’s claim that only 18 were killed from the BIFF and MILF combined forces, Napenas estimated that their enemies suffered at least 250 casualties.