MANILA — Malacanang on Tuesday vehemently denied allegations that there is a plan to whitewash results of the Board of Inquiry investigation on the Mamasapano incident.
This after President Benigno Aquino III, in his meeting with Christian leaders in Malacanang Monday, explained what he knew of what really happened in Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 that lead to the death of 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF).
The President received flaks for this with critics saying he is pre-empting the Board of Inquiry report, which is still being finalized by the Board.
Amisdst this situation, Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reiterated that there is no plan to cover-up lapses of the operation to arrest Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Filipino Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman, alias Basit Usman.
“Ang nais lang naman natin dito ay malaman ng ating mga mamamayan ‘yung katotohanan at ‘yung buong kaganapan,” he said in a briefing.
(We only want the public to know the whole truth and what really happened [during the Mamasapano clash].)
Coloma explained that what the President disclosed during his meeting with the Coalition of Christian Leaders are not new but just an elaboration of his statement made last February 6.
”Kaya sa kabuuan, ‘yung ginawa ng Pangulo kahapon ay nagbigay siya ng mas komprehensibong paglalahad doon sa mga nailahad na niya noong February 6 hinggil sa: number one, ‘yung instances na pwede na sanang na-abort ‘yung misyon at naiwasan ‘yung sinapit ng SAF 44 at ikalawa, hinggil doon sa lack of coordination,” he said.
(As a whole, yesterday, the President gave a comprehensive statement of what he said on February 6: Number one, the instances when the mission could have been aborted to avoid what happened to the SAF 44; second, about the lack of coordination.)
The President mentioned three instances wherein Napenas could have aborted the operation and prevented having casualties on the side of the government.
The first time the plan could have been aborted is when only 13 of 38 SAF members who belong to the main group, which is the SAF 84 or Seaborne, were able to cross the river.
Second is when the SAF 55, which is the blocking force, was delayed in going to their positions to be able to support the main group.
And since there was a delay in the positioning of the SAF 55 the other back-up groups were also delayed in going to their positions.
Coloma said in all these instances, Napenas could have cancelled the operation since he was stationed at the command post and knew of what is happening at the ground.
He said the President stressed on the coordination between the SAF and the military even before the plan was implemented.
“Kahapon, inexplain niya fully. Ang point ‘nung pag-e-explain ay hindi para manisi, para lamang bigyan ng kumpletong pagsasalaysay ‘yung buong kaganapan,” he said.
(Yesterday, he [President] explained everything fully. The point of explaining is not to lay blame but to give a complete statement of everything that happened [in Mamasapano].)
”Hindi po layunin ng Pangulo ‘yung manisi or blame passing. Ang pangunahing layunin ay magbigay ng liwanag tungkol sa buong kaganapan dahil iyon ang hiniling nang Coalition of Christian Leaders at iyon nga po ang ginawa niya kahapon,” he added.
(It was not the President’s objective to pass blame. His main goal was to shed light on what really happened [in Mamasapano] because that was the request of the Coalition of Christian Leaders. That’s what he did yesterday.)