MANILA — Having an actionable intelligence is what qualified resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Alan Purisima to be part of the police’s Operation Plan Exodus, a palace official said.
Asked whether the meeting between the two is proper, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a briefing Wednesday, said the meeting between the President and then-suspended PNP chief should not be questioned.
”If he was in possession of actionable intelligence at that point and that was part of the operation,” he said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said the meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Purisima in the Presidential residence last December is not unlawful “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.”
Questions about Purisima’s involvement in the police operation in Mamasampano, Maguindanao is among the reasons for the hearing held in the Senate last Monday and Tuesday and in the House of Representative Wednesday.
The PNP’s Special Action Force (SAF) operation is targeted to serve the warrants of arrest and capture Malaysian Zulkipli bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman, reportedly 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 January 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).
The said operation made a general feeling of ill among Filipinos after it was learned that there was no proper communication among the government’s security forces resulting to the large number of casualties among the SAF members.
During the hearings, some sectors said it seems that the Mamasapano incident resulted to a gap between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Lacierda stressed that the Aquino administration is not doing what he called an “inductive reasoning” or assessing that there is a rift between the two institutions because of what happened in Mamasapano.
”That’s a wrong way of looking in it,” he said reiterating that the President is still awaiting the results of the PNP-formed Board of Inquiry’s investigation on the incident.
The Presidential spokesperson said including Purisima in the planning to arrest the two terrorists is not questionable even if he was already suspended then since the PNP does not follow a chain of command type framework like in the military since PNP is a civilian organization under the Constitution.
”And let us remember also that the President is the Chief Executive of the executive branch. The Philippine National Police is with the executive branch. So he acts as the chief executive of a civilian agency, like any department, so he has control and supervision over each and every department or agency within the executive branch,” he added.