20 questions for President Aquino on the Mamasapano bloody encounter

Bulatlat is reposting the March 30 letter submitted by Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio to Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer, chair of the committee on Public Order and Safety and Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, chair of the committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity who both head the joint panel investigating the tragic Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash.

The seven representatives of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives – Bayan Muna’s Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate, Gabriela’s Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, and Kabataan’s Terry Ridon laud the decision of the Committee on Public Order and Safety, together with the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, to resume its investigation into the bloody encounter in Mamasapano on 25 January 2015.

We believe that this will help serve the search for truth by the people – 67 of our fellow Filipinos who lost their lives as a result of the encounter and the displacement and damaged livelihoods caused to the affected communities – as well as the demand of the Filipino people for accountability from those responsible.

In light, however, of the findings of the Senate Committee on Public Order and the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry, it is necessary for the House of Representatives to investigate further into significant issues raised but not completely resolved by the said bodies. These issues are, namely, the knowledge and participation of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the extent of intervention by the government of the United States. An analysis of both the Senate and BOI reports will lead to the conclusion that it is only the President himself who will be able to shed light on these matters.

Considering the above, we ask that Congress, through its Committee on Public Order and Safety, respectfully invite President Aquino to attend the hearings on April 7 and 8 to answer the following questions:

1. Why did you authorize or allow the participation of then PNP Chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus even though you were fully aware that he was already suspended at that time?

2. If he were only an “expert adviser,” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC Espina and AFP Chief of Staff Catapang and that he did not follow said order?

3. Why didn’t you, as the commander-in-chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the SAF, instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?

4. When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF director Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?

5. Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?

6. What did you and Purisima talk about during the January 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, “Sabihan mo na ang dalawa [referring to Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Gen. Espina] kapag andun na. Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang”?

7. How many times did you text Purisima and other officials about the operation in Mamasapano before, during and after January 25? Could you provide the House of Representatives the contents of all these messages? Was there any instance that you made voice calls to Purisima and other officials on the matter? We also request for the transcripts of these voice calls.

8. You said that you were irked at Purisima because you could not make sense of his conflicting texts. Why did you not call him to clarify matters? Why did you not call other officials such as Gen. Catapang and AFP generals involved in the rescue operations or even Sec. Roxas or Gen. Espina to know what was happening?

9. You were aware of the probability of “pintakasi,” that the SAF troopers will be attacked by any and all armed locals in the area. Why did you not order coordination with the CCCH even just hours before the operation was launched?

10. WESTMINCOM Commander Gen. Guerrero testified that you were getting updates throughout the day at his headquarters in Zamboanga. Who were the officials updating you and what was the information they gave you?

11. With all the updates / information you receive in the morning about the SAF engagements, why did you not get the sense of urgency to mobilize necessary forces and resources to reinforce and rescue the SAF commandos?

12. What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if there were any? Did you issue any pronouncement to them or any one to consider the peace process with the MILF in implementing the rescue operations?

13. Were you aware that the CCCH was working towards a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting? When were you informed of this?

14. Did you give any orders to stand down? Did you not give order/s to Catapang and/or Pangilinan not to fire the artillery in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where the 55th SAC were engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?

15. Why was there no air support during the Mamasapano operation? Were you aware that two helicopters and two airplanes that could have provided air support to the SAF were deployed to secure you in Zamboanga ?

16. What can you say about Napeñas’s statement that you left them hanging (“iniwan kami sa ere”) and that this is the highest form of betrayal? Gen. Napenas claims that the agreement in the Jan. 9 meeting was “time on target.” Did you expressly disapprove “time on target coordination” and ordered Director. Napenas to coordinate with the AFP one day or more before the operations?

17. Why did you say, in response to a question after your first speech on January 28, that Purisima “was involved up to the point in time, directly, that he was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman,” when facts show that he was actively involved in the planning and actual execution of Oplan Exodus while suspended?

18. Why did you allow US intervention in the operation – from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the very conduct of the operation, as is obvious from the presence of six Americans at the tactical command post? Why did you find it necessary to work with the US, but not with DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP Chief Gen. Espina, or AFP Chief Gen. Catapang?

19. What is your legal basis for allowing this intervention by the US military in a PNP law enforcement operation – a purely internal matter – even though this is not covered by the MDT, VFA, and EDCA?

20. What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in the Mamasapano operations? (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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