Purisima offers to quit PNP post
Delon Porcalla, Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - February 6, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Under fire for the deaths of 44 elite police commandos during a raid on a terrorist hideout in Maguindanao, suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima has reportedly offered to resign.

There was no word last night on whether President Aquino had accepted the resignation offer of a man known to be one of his closest aides.

It was not clear if Purisima was quitting the service or just the top PNP post. Legal experts assert he cannot leave the service yet because he is still serving a six-month suspension order from the Office of the Ombudsman. Purisima was suspended on Dec. 4, 2014 over graft charges.

Malacañang refused to make a formal announcement on the development although there were reports that President Aquino had told some members of his Cabinet about it. Officials said the President did not discuss the resignation with them during a meeting at the Palace.

“I have no information on that,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters in an informal briefing late afternoon yesterday.

But reliable sources said Aquino announced Purisima’s resignation in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at the Bahay Pangarap. Insiders claimed he still had no idea of the ramifications or consequences of Purisima’s resignation, which the latter relayed in a letter.

A source said the suspended PNP chief cannot simply leave the service if he wants to, especially now that he is under investigation for corruption.

“This is why all public officials seek clearance from their own individual offices and from the ombudsman,” a source pointed out. “You cannot simply leave because you want to. That is prohibited under the law. And that is very basic.

“If he leaves office then he cannot be entitled to his retirement benefits,” he said.

Insiders also revealed that Aquino had insisted on delivering another national televised address today to accept full responsibility for the tragedy in Mamasapano.

“He wants to end it all by taking the blame,” a source related, adding that everybody was laughing because this was the first and only time that two Palace factions – Balay and Samar – agreed on a position: to dissuade Aquino from making such a TV address.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II of the Samar and Balay groups, respectively, reportedly advised Aquino against appearing on TV to accept responsibility, as such would only complicate and worsen the situation.

“Can you imagine that? It’s the President against everybody,” the source said, laughing.

Purisima’s lawyer-cousin Kristoffer James Purisima, however, claimed the PNP chief has not tendered any resignation.

“As far as I know, Police Director General Alan La Madrid Purisima has not tendered any resignation,” the lawyer said in a text message.

Purisima and the Aquino administration have been drawing flak for the bloody Jan. 25 mission of the Special Action Force (SAF) to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli Abdul bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindano.

The commandos were leaving the village after killing Marwan when they came under intense fire from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) guerrillas.

A Board of Inquiry formed by Roxas is expected to look into Purisima’s possible breach of protocol in the Mamasapano operation.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said he welcomed Purisima’s resignation but stressed he should not be let off the hook.

Binay’s spokesman for political affairs Rico Paolo Quicho said Purisima must face any investigation into the Mamasapano incident.

“Resignation should not be used as a subterfuge for the truth in the bloody encounter in Mamasapano,” Quicho said.

A full-time chief PNP

Earlier yesterday, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina revealed his support for calls for President Aquino to appoint a full-time chief of the PNP.

Espina admitted he could not function effectively because his hands as OIC are tied.

“I must admit the OIC has some functions like for example to ensure the salaries are given to employees. But as OIC, I cannot designate police officials in permanent status and discretionary,” he added.

Espina said he does not know the whereabouts of Purisima. “We don’t talk to each other,” he said.

Senators, meanwhile, also called on Aquino to appoint a permanent replacement for Purisima.

“For the good of the nation, I urge the President to immediately select a competent replacement for General Alan Purisima, one who will be able to effectively lead the Philippine National Police and overcome its many challenges in these trying times,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

Sen. Francis Escudero said Purisima’s replacement should be named as soon as possible.

For his part, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on President Aquino to also reveal the truth about the Mamasapano operations.

“If the resignation is because he meddled in the operations of the Special Action Force, the question is: Who authorized him (Purisima) to proceed with the operations? Isn’t it that the President has the sole authority to do that?” Marcos asked.

Appointing a new PNP chief, Drilon said, is the first step toward restoring morale in the PNP, “which has been greatly affected by the recent turn of unfortunate events.”

“In order to effectively carry out the functions of the PNP, the government has to make sure that their morale to the service remains high, and their dedication to pursue justice remains strong,” Drilon said.

Drilon pointed out appointing a permanent PNP chief “is crucial so that chain of command in the PNP will again be fully observed.”

The Senate president noted that the “breakdown in the PNP chain of command” caused by the appointment of an OIC had caused further division in the police force.

Drilon also urged Purisima to cooperate with all the investigating bodies tasked to uncover the truth behind Mamasapano.

“He should attend the hearings in the Senate next week on the Mamasapano encounter. His cooperation is crucial in getting the full truth, which we owe to the families of the slain commandos, and in seeking accountability and justice for his fallen comrades,” Drilon said.

Escudero, Marcos and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Purisima’s leaving the top PNP post would somehow ease public outrage.

“If true, at least he saved the President from the trouble of having to fire him if only to stabilize the PNP as an organization,” Escudero said.

Trillanes said the move “will definitely help pacify those trying to pin blame on General Purisima but it will not address the issues of the SAF personnel and the people crying out for justice for the 44 slain SAF troopers.” – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Christina Mendez


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