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Miriam blames Pnoy

  • Written by Bernadette E. Tamayo
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 4600
Featured Miriam Defensor Santiago Miriam Defensor Santiago

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes that President Benigno Aquino III and three ranking Philippine National Police (PNP) officials were responsible for the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers due to their failure to properly execute a rescue plan for the commandos trapped during a firefight with Muslim rebels last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
   
The 44 SAF men died during a clash in barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town with combined forces from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after they killed Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.
 
She said that it is “useless and it’s not possible” to pinpoint the blame for any single person for an operation of this nature. “It’s useless because 44 people have already died and we cannot resurrect them. It’s impossible. The defense being raised is that the operation has been kept secret except among three people: President Aquino, (former PNP chief) General (Alan) Purisima, and (former SAF director) General (Getulio) Napeñas. It’s impossible to pinpoint who among the three of them is responsible.
   
“We can segregate them from the rest of the people involved because of the admissions made during the hearing that they had consultations that were just the three of them, including Intelligence Group Director Fernando Mendez,” she said.
   
“So, by their own admission—this is an admission against interest and constitutes very strong evidence—there were only four people there. Para natin masabi kung sino dito sa apat na ito ang talagang may kasalanan, ‘yon ang mahirap dahil we have no evidence,” said Santiago.
   
She added: “But certainly this was all part of the discharge by the President of his functions as commander-in-chief of the Philippine Armed Forces. So, in effect, all four must assume responsibility for the failure—in fact not only failure, but the massacre that took place.”
 
“I am naming President Aquino because I don’t think it serves public interest to fudge the issue—to never mention his name, like he was some sacred cow. I don’t think he needs my protection. He can stand for himself,” said Santiago.
   
Asked whether she believes that the President had a direct hand in “Oplan Exodus” and that he allowed Purisima to participate in the execution of the plan despite the fact that the latter is suspended from office, Santiago said: “The answer is categorically, yes.”
   
“He had a direct hand from the very beginning according to his own admission. Iyun lang, ang version niya is, in the due course of the four years time that it took to catch this terrorist, he dropped out of the line of command, because anyway, people already understood what his position was. I don’t buy that,” she said.
   
“Ito naman si Gen. Napeñas, walang choice. Kasi kung pipiliin nila si Purisima to take responsibility, aaminin nila that he violated the terms of his preventive suspension. That’s why it had to be Napeñas,” she said.
      
Pressed whether she can say that the President has been forthcoming about his role in the operation, Santiago said: “No, not completely. I watched him on television when he said, ‘Matagal na ‘yang pursuit of the terrorists Marwan and Usman, and I was informed during the entire course of that pursuit around Mindanao.’ And then he said, ‘So hindi ko na kailangang magsabi na i-go na yang SAF adventure; hindi na kailangan sa akin manggaling ang order dahil alam nila that I had approved the mission and that they are free to take action to achieve the objectives of the mission, which was to serve warrants of arrest on Usman and Marwan.’ I don’t believe that for a minute. I’m sorry.”