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Senators: BOI report reinforces PNoy's liability on Mamasapano incident

President Benigno Aquino III gestures in one of his national addresses on the January 29 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 Special Action Force members were killed. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Senators on Friday expressed concern over the Board of Inquiry’s findings that no less than President Aquino broke the chain of command that contributed to the delay in the sending of reinforcements to the besieged 84th Seaborne and 55th Special Action Company (SAC) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Juan Victor Ejercito, however, are leaving it to the President on how he will deal with the Filipino people in the wake of the chief executive's statements last Monday where he blamed sacked Special Action Force (SAF) chief Director Getulio Napenas for the debacle.

Oplan Exodus is the covert operation implemented by the SAF that led to the killing of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but at the cost of the lives of 44 SAF troopers.

“It reinforces what I've said all along. The confusion in coordination between the PNP and SAF and even the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is because of the break in chain of command,” Marcos said.

“Again, why did the President do that. The Filipino public has long waited for that answer. This is what I meant that the President should step up,” said Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government.

Marcos suspended the hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law until the truth on the Mamasapano incident has been uncovered.

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Ejercito recognized that proper coordination would have been better had the right chain of command at the police force was followed.

“The mission started on the wrong foot because the chain of command was broken. How can there be a proper coordination when there is no chain of command? Unfortunately, it was the President himself who broke it,” Ejercito said.

Kudos to BOI

Former senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out that President Aquino broke the established chain of command of the PNP when he dealt directly with Napeñas and bypassed PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina during the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus, “not because he allowed Purisima to participate in the planning and execution of the oplan.”

Lacson said Purisima – being suspended then by the Ombudsman -- was not part of that chain during that time.

At the same time, Lacson congratulated the members of the BOI team for being able to come out with a credible report despite the limitations of the panel.

“Having said that, the BOI and all the people behind it must be commended by the Filipino people for doing a splendid job of coming out with the truth with utmost objectivity and conviction to finish their job to its logical conclusion, without fear or favor,” Lacson said.

Noting how the team dealt with President Aquino’s role as commander-in-chief in the implementation of "Exodus," Lacson commended the BOI for coming out with the report “no matter who may be subjected to possible criminal and administrative investigation that may ensue later using the materials and evidence gathered by the board as reference.“

“This, despite the limitations that are inherent to their mandate not to mention their situation,  being active police officers whose careers may suffer on account of their findings,” said Lacson, a former police chief.

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