MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III did not violate any law when he consulted then-suspended and now resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Alan Purisima.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in an SMS distributed by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, said the Chief Executive is free to consult anyone if this will help him in his decision-making.
”No law prohibits the President from exercising his discretion to get the views of a suspended official on a particular matter if this would raise the confidence level of the President’s executive decision-making, so long as the act does not involve the performance of official functions pertaining to the post from which the official concerned was suspended from,” she said.
The President has been questioned why he consulted Purisima for the operations to serve the warrants of arrest and capture Malaysian Zulkipli bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman, bomb experts who had links with the terror group Jemaah Islamiya.
The government said Marwan, who has a USD 5 million bounty, was killed during the police’s elite group’s operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.
However, 44 members of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (SAF) also died during the operations after what the government said was a “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Several sectors have questioned Purisima’s participation in the police operation but the President earlier attributed this to the latter’s knowledge on the specific details about the terrorists whereabouts, which he knew even before he was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2014.