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Palace: No Aquino-Roxas meeting on firing Purisima, Ochoa

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang denied on Thursday that President Benigno Aquino III met with Interior Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II who demanded to sack suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda belied a newspaper report which alleged that Roxas barged into a meeting between Aquino and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima last Tuesday to recommend the removal of the PNP chief and Ochoa due to the Mamasapano tragedy.

"No such incident occurred. The February 3, 2015, 1:00 p.m., meeting with Secretary Cesar Purisima, which the article referred to, did not push through," Lacierda said.

"This article is premised on something that never took place. During a time of mourning for our country, we call upon all sectors to practice prudence and refrain from adding to the grief of our countrymen," he added.

The newspaper report cited an anonymous Palace source who claimed that Roxas warned Aquino against keeping Purisima.

According to the source, Roxas told Aquino that keeping the embattled PNP chief will trigger his downfall.

The source added that Roxas also sought the sacking of Ochoa, the  head of the Anti-Crime Council who was allegedly ordered by Aquino to fund the January 25 covert operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Aquino's refusal to fire the officials angered Roxas who walked out on the President and banged the door, the source further claimed.

Citing another anonymous official, the same newspaper earlier reported that it was Purisima who planned the entire operation and reported directly to Aquino.

In his televised address on January 28, Aquino admitted prior knowledge of the police operation, but said the Special Action Force chief had observed "very minimum compliance" with his directive for proper coordination.

Aquino said Purisima had coordinated with him on the operation, but only before the police chief’s suspension last December.

He also skirted questions on whether he gave the go-signal for the botched operation, saying not all activities of law enforcers require his clearance.

ALAN PURISIMA AND EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PACQUITO OCHOA ANTI-CRIME COUNCIL AQUINO AQUINO AND FINANCE SECRETARY CESAR PURISIMA INTERIOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY MANUEL ROXAS MAMASAPANO OCHOA PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO PURISIMA ROXAS
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