MANILA, Philippines – Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima declined to give details of his supposed communication with President Benigno Aquino III on the disastrous operations aimed for the capture of two terrorists in Mamasapano town that ended in a clash with Moro rebels, killing 44 Special Action Force (SAF) elite police.
During the probe on the Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Purisima withheld disclosing information as he believed that he should first seek permission from President Aquino.
“I am invoking executive privilege because it involved communications between me and the President concerning national security,” he said.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon demanded answers from Purisima who refused to pronounce Aquino’s role in the police operations.
“Purisima is in the best position to answer… For me that’s (executive privilege) out of order because under the rules, he’s supposed to answer our questions,” Colmenares said, clarifying that only the president can invoke such privilege.
The next hearing will be held on February 17. The House committee expects Purisima to answer all inquiries by then.
Despite Colmenares and Ridon’s motion, neither President Aquino nor Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa will be summoned in the following hearing.
Last week, Purisima resigned from his position as PNP director general after the public’s rage on the Fallen 44. He was one of the authorities held responsible for the gruesome death of the police commandos. Aquino, on the other hand, allegedly authorized Purisima in the operations while keeping other military officials in the dark.
PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina, who was also questioned in the hearing, admitted that they were not well informed of the operation.
“Personally, wala akong alam kung ano ang alam ng Presidente dito, lalo na dito sa Mamasapano, dahil ako mismo wala akong alam,” he said.
(Personally, I cannot identify what the President knows about the operations, especially in the Mamasapano [encounter], because even I am not aware of it.)
Sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas earlier said that it was Purisima’s order to keep the covert operation. He also said that he met with Aquino days before the operation.
With report from Cyra Moraleda