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'Don't tell Mar,' Napeñas quotes Purisima

File photo shows Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former police chief Director General Alan Purisima conferring in a Senate committee investigation. Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — It was then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima's idea not to inform the PNP chain of command of "Oplan Exodus," relieved Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas said Monday.

Napeñas said before the Senate panel investigating the deaths of the 44 SAF men in the anti-terror operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that Purisima had a say on the covert operation even after he was suspended from his post by the Ombudsman in December 2014.

"Wag mo muna sabihan yung dalawa, saka na 'pag nandun na. Ako na ang bahala kay [Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio] Catapang," Napeñas quoted Purisima as saying.

Amid accusations of violating the chain of command, the disgraced SAF commander said that Purisima gave the supposed instruction shortly after their meeting with President Benigno Aquino II on Jan. 9, 2015.

Napeñas said it was in Bahay Pangarap, Aquino's residence at the Malacañang compound, that "Oplan Exodus" targeting Jemaah Islamiyah operatives Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman was named.

Napeñas, Purisima and police intelligence director Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez briefed the president on the planned operation. Napeñas also confirmed what Aquino mentioned in his first national address after the deadly encounter in Maguindanao—that he ordered "sufficient coordination" with the AFP.

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"His excellency [President Aquino] cited the coordination with the AFP that he had earlier stated in his press statement,' Napeñas said.

Aquino defied?

After the mission briefing, Purisima stayed behind with President Aquino.After the suspended PNP chief's tête-à-tête with Aquino, however, he then told Napeñas not to inform Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas III and police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina about the Oplan Exodus.

It was also decided that the military leadership would only be informed when the SAF assault team has reached its target destination.

"Under [Oplan Exodus], coordination with the AFP would be 'time on target' in order to avoid another compromise," Napeñas said.

READ: Napeñas: Past ops on Marwan failed when AFP was alerted

In his January 28 televised address, however, Aquino expressed dismay that his order to coordinate with the Armed Forces was not carried out.

"If my order to ensure sufficient coordination had been complied with, then perhaps it was pushed to the limit, resulting in very minimum compliance," Aquino had said. "In fact, I was surprised to learn that the heads of the Western Mindanao Command, or even of the 6th Infantry Division, had only been advised after the first encounter."

Oplan Exodus in Mamasapano, Maguindanao turned into a clash between the SAF and gunmen from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, killing 44 police commandos.

Purisima, who also participated in the Senate hearing on Monday, denied that what he told Napeñas was an "order."

"Napeñas knows very well that he cannot and should not follow orders from anyone who is not in the chain of command such as from suspended police officer,"  Purisima said.

READ: Purisima on Mamasapano: I gave advice, not order

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