MANILA (Mabuhay) — Relieved Special Action Force (SAF) commander Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas on Wednesday insisted that he did not break the chain of command when he communicated with suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima for the planning of the January 25 Mamasapano operation.
Reading a prepared statement during a hearing in the House of Representatives on the clash, Napeñas detailed several meetings where they planned for the operation, dubbed as Oplan Exodus. The meetings included one with President Benigno Aquino III at the Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang on January 9, 2015.
“I could not be accused of breaking the chain of command, even Justice Secretary [Leila] De Lima said chain of command does not exist in civilian organization like the PNP,” Napeñas said.
On Tuesday’s hearing at the Senate, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima clarified that the possible liabilities of police officials involved in the Mamasapano incident must be determined using civil service rules and not according to military law, as the military is stricter when it comes to the rules on chain of command.
Napeñas, during his speech at the House probe, also denied media reports that it was Aquino who gave the go signal for the Mamasapano operation during the meeting at the Malacañang.
“The President never gave me any instructions. Had it been the president who directly ordered me to execute, I will not have second thoughts on exposing it, and it will not be my problem,” he said.
He said since Aquino did not order a stop on the operation, he decided to proceed with it. The SAF commandos started arriving at Mamasapano in Maguindanao as early as January 21.
Napeñas said prior to the January 25 operation, which resulted in the deaths of 44 SAF policemen, rehearsals and fire exercises were undertaken by those involved.
“Before the end of December 2014, a new communication system was set up at the Maguindanao police office in Shariff Aguak which will later on serve as tactical command post,” Napeñas said
“The participating troops moved to the respected staging area on Jan 21 to January 23. Then they moved to [General Santos], including ground commanders. From the above, I believe it is clear the PNP SAF did its best in the preparations and planning operations against Marwan and Usman. Unfortunately, not all of our men did make it out alive,” he added, referring to suspected terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Basit Usman, the targets of the operation. (MNS)