Palace: BOI report won’t be amended
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - March 20, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There will be no amendment to the Board of Inquiry (BOI) report on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident despite President Aquino’s voicing his displeasure at reportedly not being given the chance by investigators to present his side, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

Coloma stressed the BOI report “stands as it is” and that the meeting between Aquino and PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, BOI chairman Director Benjamin Magalong and BOI member Chief Supt. John Sosito – along with other Cabinet officials – allowed the Chief Executive to clarify certain matters in the report. Coloma also called the BOI report “independent and objective.”

“That was the overall sense that we got, there was no animosity there or hostility but what prevailed instead was cordial and frank exchange of views,” Coloma said, noting the BOI officials managed to ask all the questions they wanted to ask the President.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also said the President should not be prejudged based on the findings of the BOI and the Senate as his side was not presented in their reports.

Both reports stated that it was up to the prosecutorial arm of the government to look into the possible liabilities of those directly involved in the operation.

Coloma revealed the President had given the Senate his go-signal to look into his exchange of text messages with suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima regarding the Mamasapano operation and that no one had prevented the senators from making a formal request to hear Aquino’s side of the story.

The Palace earlier disputed the BOI’s findings that Aquino broke the chain of command when he dealt directly with relieved Special Action Force commander Director Getulio Napeñas and Purisima on the Mamasapano operation.

It said the President’s orders to coordinate with Espina and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were disobeyed by Purisima and Napeñas.

The Senate draft report, signed by 20 senators as of Wednesday, said Aquino was “ultimately responsible for the outcome of the Mamasapano mission.”

“It’s a matter of public record. They have their recommendations and the concerned government agencies can use this as basis for further gathering of information, if there is a need for case build-up this can also be used,” Coloma said, referring to the BOI report.

“This means the responsible government agencies can already pick up from where the BOI report left off,” he said.

He cited Malacañang’s agreeing to the Senate request to examine the text messages between Aquino and Purisima.

“But it was reported that there was an objection on the part of Gen. Purisima,” Coloma said.

Coloma said Senate President Franklin Drilon sent a letter as a courtesy to the President informing him of such request.

He said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. relayed the President’s giving his consent to the request “if only to demonstrate” his openness to provide information requested by senators.

Coloma said the President would continue to explain to the public his version of events as part of his “democratic dialogue” with the people.

“There are those asking for additional information and we continue to listen to the sentiments of the people,” Coloma said.

He said the most important consideration is to address the public’s clamor for the truth.

No clearing P-Noy

An emotional Magalong, meanwhile, maintained that the BOI had not cleared President Aquino of liability.

“Why all of a sudden there was (media) report that the President has been cleared? It’s sad because the report made it appear changes had been made in the BOI report. It doesn’t give justice to those people who helped us come up with that report and the investigation,” said Magalong, who is also the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

“The meeting with the President will not change the BOI report,” he added.

“In just one sitting I would change (the BOI report). Ano na lang ako, walang prinsipyo, walang kaluluwa? Masakit talaga (What would that make of me? Unprincipled, soulless? It hurts really),” a teary-eyed Magalong said.

“I think it’s unfair. I consider that report irresponsible, malicious reporting. I am really very sorry. I really got hurt. Some people also got hurt with that. I hope that this will be a lesson to everybody. Let us just state the facts. Let us not spin words,” he added.

Speaking to reporters last Wednesday about his meeting with Aquino in Malacañang on Tuesday, Magalong clarified that the BOI did not attribute any wrongdoing on the part of the President in the Mamasapano debacle.

“We clarified to him that we never mentioned that he violated the chain of command. We just said that the President exercised his prerogative,” he said.

Magalong said Aquino was visibly hurt by the BOI report on the Mamasapano raid that led to the slaughter of 44 SAF commandos. “You could see it in his demeanor,” he said.

He pointed out that the President did not ask him to change anything, and merely explained his participation in the Mamasapano clash.

“There are already people there who are doing their best to discredit us, to discredit the report. I really do not know what is the reason but please, we owe to the people,” he said.

“We are there to seek out the truth. We were able to seek out the truth. I think we have accomplished our mandate to seek out the truth,” he added.

Disputing FVR

De Lima, for her part, balked at former President Fidel Ramos’ contention that an executive order he issued during his term was basis for the application of the principle of chain of command on the PNP and other government bodies.

“If you read that EO, it purports to apply (chain of command) not only to the PNP but to all offices of the executive branch of government. If that is correct, does it mean there is already chain of command in our executive departments? They seem to be confused,” De Lima told reporters in an interview.

“If you apply that EO of FVR on the basis of the PNP, then it also applied to the entire executive branch. Can you imagine now the entire civilian bureaucracy adopting this chain of command concept? That would make us here in the executive branch just like the military. I don’t agree with that,” she stressed.

De Lima said the EO only provided for application of “command of superior responsibility” in cases of accountability of officials on the basis of certain standards like knowledge and negligence.

“Did the higher official tolerate the commission of an illegal or irregular act on the part of his subordinates? That’s the only point of the EO. It does not mean that if the doctrine of command of superior responsibility is applied, automatically there is already chain of command,” she pointed out.- Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edu Punay

 

AQUINO BOI COLOMA COMMAND DE LIMA MAGALONG MAMASAPANO PRESIDENT REPORT
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