Palace denies stand down order in Mamasapano operation
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang disputed yesterday a report of an independent bloc in the House of Representatives that claimed President Aquino issued a stand down order during the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last year that led to the deaths of 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF).

“In all the previous investigations, it had been clearly established that there was no such stand down order and that the high number of casualties incurred by the SAF could have been averted if former SAF (commander) Director (Getulio) Napeñas had coordinated with the (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in a timely manner,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Earlier, Coloma said it was established during the hearing called at the insistence of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile last week that the President did not issue any such order supposedly to save the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) even if its members were attacking the SAF operatives.

Members of the SAF launched the operation on Jan. 25, 2015 to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman in Mamasapano. The raiding team killed Marwan in the operation. Usman escaped but was later killed in another encounter.

The SAF troopers pulling out from Marwan’s hideout clashed with MILF rebels, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups that resulted in the death of the 44 policemen, 18 rebels and five civilians.

Coloma said the nation was also witness to the pronouncements of Napeñas, the military and police officials that there was no stand down order from the President, as Napeñas himself said that former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima told him to order the SAF operatives to hold their positions because Purisima was talking to the MILF.

The Palace official maintained there was nothing to hide on their part and the President had always been open and forthright to find out the truth about the Mamasapano incident.

The House independent bloc said Aquino bore responsibility for the SAF 44 killings, saying that as Chief Executive and commander-in-chief, he failed to provide guidance and leadership in the planning, execution and after-mission conduct of this critical undertaking dubbed “Oplan Exodus” to neutralize suspected terrorists.

Reps. Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list and Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada held a news conference to present their report.

 

ALAN PURISIMA ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ATILDE BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BASIT USMAN CHIEF EXECUTIVE COLOMA CRUZ OF ABAKADA MAMASAPANO MARWAN SAF
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