KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/28 January) – Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, who was sacked as director of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) following the tragic death of 44 of his men in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday, is not new to Mindanao, having served in the island before.
He was the provincial police director of South Cotabato in 2005 and served the area for at least two years.
South Cotabato Governor Daisy P Avance-Fuentes personally picked Napeñas to be the provincial police director then.
Before he was installed as South Cotabato police director, he served as commander of the Philippine police contingent to the United Nations peace keeping force in Kosovo.
“I have full confidence on Napeñas based on his records,” Fuentes said then.
According to her then, he is a “young, aggressive and highly respected” police officer who specializes in special action force operations.
Napeñas is a valedictorian or had topped various trainings in special action force which he had attended, she added.
“We chose him because we wanted somebody who will have the respect of his men and one who, in terms of academics and experience, has exceptional record,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes said then PNP Director General Edgardo Aglipay had endorsed to her the assignment of Napeñas in the province.
She said Aglipay acknowledged that Napeñas is “the best person you can get if he agrees to be there.”
Fuentes said Napeñas told her then that South and Central Mindanao is not new to him, as he also had stints in Sultan Kudarat province and in Parang, Maguindanao while still a young police lieutenant.
Before he was assigned as PNP-SAF director in December 2013, Napeñas was also the PNP regional director for Caraga or Region 13.
Napeñas was suspended after the alleged misencounter last Sunday in Mamasapano, Maguindanao between the PNP-SAF forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The elite police commandos also clashed with the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The PNP-SAF members tried to serve an arrest warrant against Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman, alleged top operatives of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiya.
Zulkifli, a Malaysian, carries a $5 million bounty for his arrest from the United States government, while $1 million is offered for Usman, a Filipino.
The MILF said the clashes between its forces and the PNP-SAF could have been avoided if only the latter coordinated with the mechanisms under the peace process between the government and the MILF.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas described the deadly clashes between the PNP-SAF and the MILF elements as a “misencounter.”