MANILA (Mabuhay) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday warned of hasty conclusions such as President Benigno Aquino III being “ultimately responsible” for the Mamasapano incident just because he knew about the mission to capture Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and other suspected terrorists in late January.
“Ang dapat ingatan natin ung mga hasty conclusions, hasty and reckless conclusions na just because alam ng Pangulo iyong operations ay he is now deemed to be really liable or deemed to be really accountable to each and every aspect of that operation,” De Lima in an interview.
“Kaya gusto ko rin malaman kung ano ang basehan ng Senate report,” she added.
The joint committee of the Senate in its report has found Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the results of the mission after he allowed the the suspended Philippine National Police chief Director-General Alan Purisima to oversee its planning and execution.
The operation led to the killing of Marwan but also to an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and its breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters despite an existing peace agreement with the MILF. More than 60 people were killed including 44 police commandos.
In an interview, De Lima admitted she had yet to read the Senate’s report, not even its executive summary, on the Mamasapano clash.
De Lima said she would “strongly” dispute the Senate panel if it would point to the chain of command as its reason for blaming Aquino, the same way the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry did.
“Even if the Senate agrees na may chain of command sa PNP, I’m sticking to my position. Hindi ako magbabago, kasi iyan ang reading ko ng Constitution ng batas, lalo na ng jurisprudence,” she said.
Besides, De Lima said that Aquino has “already owned up responsibility [and accountability]. Pinanindigan na niya iyan.”
De Lima also said the DOJ’s own investigation would seek to validate the Senate’s findings that the January 25 could be considered a “massacre.” Apart from the 44 elite policemen, also killed were 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation of Front, and five civilians.
Meanwhile, De Lima said it would be up to the Ombudsman, and not the Department of Justice, to determine suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima’s criminal and administrative liability, if ever, in the Mamasapano clash, since his salary grade is above 27. (MNS)