MANILA – At least 250 lawless elements were killed in the bloody encounter that also left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers dead on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima revealed this in his position paper submitted to the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Senator Grace Poe.
”Unknown to many, reports coming from our intelligence assets reveal that more or less 250 lawless elements died during the encounter,” Purisima stated in a 13-page document.
Purisima explained the Operation Exodus is a continuing law enforcement operation aimed at arresting ‘high priority targets’ Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, an international terrorist wanted by the United State, and Basit Usman, commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
”Basit and Usman are involved in any atrocities, as well as in a series of bomb attacks that have killed countless lives and injured numerous others. They are very dangerous terrorists that have trained many fellow Muslim radicals. Thus, they have the means capabilities to spread terror in the Philippines through their connections with international terrorist groups,” Purisima said.
The former PNP chief said the fallen SAF 44 “did not die in vain” after Marwan, who has USD 5 million bounty on his head, was killed in the operation.
Though he was involved in the operations against Marwan since December 2012, Purisima said his direct participation in the Oplan Exodus ended when the Ombudsman slapped him with preventive suspension in November last year.
He said he already delegated the law enforcement operations against Marwan and Usmman as early as April 2014 to relieved SAF chief Getulio Napenas.
”Once the Chief, PNP delegates his authority to a force or unit commander, that commander assumes control and supervision over that mission,” Purisima said.
Purisima said there was no need to inform Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas about the operations as provided in the Republic Act No. 6975.
”To paraphrase military parlance, the DILG and the DILG Secretary are not part of the PNP command line. Although the DILG Secretary is also the ex-office chair of the NAPOLCOM, the NAPOLCOM acts as a collegial body and not through the NAPOLCOM chair acting on his own,” he explained.
Upon advise of Purisima, Napenas informed Roxas and acting PNP chief Deputy Director General Leonard Espina ‘time on target’ about the Oplan Exodus.
Purisima said Napenas would have chosen not to follow his advice and instead inform Roxas and Espina about the mission.
In fact, Purisima said Napenas did not also inform Roxas and Espina about the Operation Terminator 2, also against Marwan, that was conducted by the PNP SAF in December 12, last year. Purisima was already suspended at the time.
”Thus, even without my advice, Police Director Napenas was already predisposed not to inform the OIC and DILG Secrtary about the continuing law enforcement operations against Marwan and Usman,” Purisima said.
Purisima also said Napenas admitted to the Senate inquiry that it was his judgment call not to inform Espina and Roxas.
Purisima insisted that Napenas “knows very well that he cannot and should not follow orders from anyone who is not in his command line, such as from a suspended police officer.”
”Thus, at no time did I usurp any official authority or function while under preventive suspension. I never misrepresented or falsely represented myself to be the PNP chief,” he said.
Purisima also claimed he was also informed by Napenas about the mission time on target.
While he already delegated the authority to Napenas, Purisima assumed the accountability for the mission.
”I assume responsibility for the operation. Consistent therewith, I was the one who informed the President in the early morning of 25 January 2015 as our valiant at gallant PNP SAF troopers were being engaged by hostile forces,” he said.
Purisima denied also reports that he lied to the President when he informed President Aquino at 8:17a.m. on January 25 that the engaged SAF troopers “are supported by mechanized and artillery support.”
”I belief in good faith on the information given to me at 8:03a.m. by Lt. (Rustico) General Guerrero, which stated that ‘’meron ng coordination sa ground tank infantry and artillery support are made available,” Purisima said.
Purisima explained that he provided information to the President at the time of the Oplan Exodus because he believes as a police officer “it was morally incumbent upon me” to come to the aid of his fellow PNP SAF troopers in their time of need.”
”I believe that it is my moral duty and obligation to extend to the PNP SAF whatever assistance I can,” Purisima said.
”It is within this context that all my actions were taken. Although my preventive suspension prevented me from performing the administrative functions of a PNP chief, it did not prevent me from providing advice, inputs and reminders to the force commander,” he added.
He also explained that his resignation was “to allow President to fully address the situation that is affecting the whole nation.”
Attached in his position paper are the timelines of events, SMS and calls “to further clarify factual matters regarding my participation in Operation Exodus.”
”It is my hope that I was able to explain the details and context of Operation Exodus so that we will not lose sight of the valor and bravery displayed by our PNP SAF troopers,” Purisima said.
Poe has said she will submit next week the committee report on the five hearings and five executive sessions conducted by her committee with the committees on peace, unification and reconciliation, and finance.