MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 February) – President Benigno Aquino III on Friday announced he had accepted the resignation of suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima, who had come under fire for his alleged role in the Jan. 25 clash in Maguindanao that left several police commandos dead.
In a televised national address delivered in Filipino, Aquino said it was a difficult decision to make given his long-time association with Purisima. He said that even when he was still with the opposition Purisima never abandoned him despite the risks to his career [as [police official].
In the same speech, Aquino vowed the government will continue to hunt down Basit Usman, who is said to be a lieutenant of suspected Malaysian bomber Zukipli bin Hir alias Marwan, the primary target of the Jan. 25 operation in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.
Marwan was believed killed in the January 25 encounter in Mamasapano based on the result of the DNA test done on a biological sample taken from the clash site. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the test, said the sample matched with the DNA sample taken from Marwan’s brother who was being detained at Guantanamo in Cuba.
Aquino cited Purisima’s role in the plan to get Marwan and Usman. However, he did not categorically say if the former PNP chief had a direct hand in the Jan. 25 raid.
The president placed the burden on sacked PNP Special Action Force commander Director Getulio Napenas Jr. to explain what went wrong with the operation.
He said that as a veteran of Mindanao, he expected Napenas to possess “situational awareness” and be the first to know what was happening every second.
Aquino asked why Napenas neither aborted nor changed the plan.
He said the need to either abort or change the plan increased since Napenas knew there was no coordination, and there was a slim chance for the armed forces to reinforce [the beleaguered policemen] for lack of time to prepare.
He added Napenas will have a chance to answer these and other questions before the board of inquiry that will investigate the Mamasapano clash.
It was the second time that the president addressed the county apparently to assuage public clamor for authorities to divulge what really happened on Jan. 25, when 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force were killed in a clash with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The police commandos clashed with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Eighteen MILF members and at least four civilians also died in the clash.
Aquino warned the government was determined to get Usman regardless of who was harboring the suspected terrorist.
Referring to both the BIFF and the MILF, the president said he was expecting either group to surrender Usman to authorities.
He said the government will do everything to arrest Usman and warned that nobody should get in the way. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)