MANILA — Malacanang on Tuesday declined to comment on the on-going Senate hearings regarding the Mamasapano incident.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said “it may be inappropriate to give comments at this time because the testimonies given by individual resource persons need to be understood in proper context.”
He said that understanding the proper context of the resource persons’ testimonies “ is possible only after reading the complete transcript of the proceedings.”
”It is also important to await the findings of the PNP-Board of Inquiry and other fact-finding bodies which are conducting similar inquiries,” he said.
There have been lots of information that have come out from the hearing, which started Monday.
Some sectors have raised questions and among these was why President Benigno Aquino III allowed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Alan Purisima, who was suspended at that time but resigned from his post last week, to be part of the PNP’s Special Action Force (SAF) operation.
The SAF operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao was aimed at serving the warrants of arrest and capture Malaysian Zulkipli bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman, bomb experts who are linked with the terror group Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and who are being hunted by the US.
The government said Marwan, who has a USD 5 million bounty, was killed during the police’s elite group’s operations in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, 2015.
However, 44 SAF members also died during the said operations after what the government said was a “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Reports said the President discussed high-level, covert operations with Purisima in the Chief Executive’s official residence, Bahay Pangarap.
Coloma said it is normal for the President to receive visitors and conduct meetings at Bahay Pangarap.
He reiterated the President’s statement on Purisima’s involvement on the operation, saying that Purisima was then the head of the PNP and was the one who knew specific and confidential details about the operations since it was formulated in May 2014.
Earlier, Aquino said he was in direct contact with SAF chief police director Getulio Napeñas Jr. for the Mamasapano operation.
”… ‘Yung, if at all, baka ‘yung jargon tinutulungan ako ni General Purisima to understand it. But he was involved ‘yung up to the point in time, directly, that he was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman. Tapos after that, if at all, ‘yung siya ang very knowledgeable about the whole thing; ipinapaliwanag sa akin ‘yung intricacies of what the plan being presented to be was…,” he said.
Asked on why Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas was excluded from the meetings for the operation against the two terrorist, Coloma cited anew the President’s reply that answers “will be borne in the Board of Inquiry.”