FILE PHOTO: Former President Benigno Aquino III
Former president, Benigno Aquino III once again insisted that he is not responsible for the deaths of the 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015.
Instead, Aquino pointed to former SAF director Getulio Napeñas as the one responsible for the ill-fated operation.
The former president said, Napeñas failed to properly coordinate with other government agencies despite his order to ensure the sufficient number of back-ups for the operation.
He also denied any US involvement in Oplan Exodus whose primary objective was the capture of international terrorist Zulkifli Binhir alias Marwan — one of FBI’s most wanted.
Aquino also cleared presidential adviser on the peace process, Teresita Deles, from accusations that she was the one who advised the former chief executive of not sending air assets since the operation would gravely affect the then peace negotiation.
This was because it was believed that some members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)were protecting Marwan and Usman.
Aquino denied leading the troops to their death as he emphasized that Oplan Exodus should have been coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He also has no knowledge where the P5 million-peso reward from the US went to.
Aquino also defended his decision to award medal of valor to only two of the killed SAF members.
He claims he based it on the recommendation of the PNP board, and that it had undergone the right process.
He said he agrees with President Duterte’s measures to reevaluate the awarding of medal to other slain SAF commandos.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, meanwhile, was not convinced with the arguments of the former president.
Aguirre argued that Aquino is just sparing himself from any liability, saying Aquino had a failure in the said operation.
He added that Aquino’s mobile phone should be subjected to forensic examination to determine the conversation he had with the officials who conducted the botched operation.
“He [Aquino] was always saying that [it was Napeñas’ fault]. But he is the one telling a lie. He said he never gave instructions to then suspended PNP Chief General [Alan] Purisima. Then what did he do? He texted with Gen. Purisima and gave orders on what was happening to Marwan and Usman. That means he was on top of the situation. He knows what was going on,” said Aguirre. — Bernard Dadis | UNTV News and Rescue