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Gordon: Reopen Mamasapano probe

The BoI concluded that Aquino violated the chain of command when he allowed his buddy Purisima in the planning and execution of Oplan “Exodus” while serving a suspension.

Hananeel Bordey

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The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is seriously studying the reopening of the inquiry into the botched Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus that resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Maguindanao in January 2015.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, expressed disappointment over the recent junking of the cases filed against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and ex-SAF Director Getulio Napenas by the Sandiganbayan.

Previously, former President Benigno S. Aquino III was also cleared of any liability on the 25 January 2015 massacre of 44 SAF commandos by combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

It was established that Aquino bypassed then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina.

“I’m severely disappointed. I’m totally devastated by it. Mamasapano is one of the great injustices of our time. We sent people who are simple folks who became soldiers and policemen to their deaths,” Gordon told reporters in an ambush interview.

Gordon, who is a lawyer, questioned the manner the prosecutors handled the case.

“I’ve always been trying to open up Mamasapano but I have senators (who have) investigated (it). To my mind, it seems that the prosecution failed here again. Like what I said, (the success of the case) depends on those who prosecute,” Gordon explained.

“It is a travesty, with all due respect. I don’t know yet, I’m talking to my hat here, but why was it dismissed? A lot of people died, 44 were killed, then no one will be held responsible? That is dereliction of duty,” he said.

Gordon emphasized that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is now mulling over the reopening of the investigation to bring justice to the families of the 44 policemen.

“For now, we are still studying the case thoroughly with the Blue Ribbon Committee before making any steps regarding the reopening of the said case,” he said.

Bato: Aquino liable

For his part, Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, who was part of the Operational Audit Team that conducted ground investigation of the incident, maintained that Aquino was liable for the bungled operation.
“The operation audit report that we made, we really detailed there that President Aquino is really accountable,” De la Rosa said.

“All of them were included in the accountability. On the part of Napeñas, we have a different evaluation. He is not that liable in that case,” he added.

The audit report was used by the Board of Inquiry, headed by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, in arriving at this conclusion.

The BoI concluded that Aquino violated the chain of command when he allowed his buddy Purisima in the planning and execution of Oplan “Exodus” while serving a suspension.
It was established that Aquino bypassed then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina.

Apart from this, Aquino was also criticized for not immediately deploying military reinforcement to the beleaguered SAF commandos who were overwhelmed by the Muslim rebels after neutralizing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

The military only fired white phosporous at around 5 p.m. — hours after the initial firefight erupted, that drove away the rebels. Many believed that had the air support came in when it was sought at around 7 a.m., it could have saved many of the SAF commandos.

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