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As I See It

P-Noy made Napeñas the scapegoat

/ 12:11 AM March 11, 2015

Poor Getulio Napeñas, the sacked commander of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force. President Benigno Aquino III (P-Noy) has made him the scapegoat for the Mamasapano massacre. Speaking before a gathering of evangelical church leaders, P-Noy said Napeñas disobeyed his order to coordinate with the military. But he did not mention the role played by his friend, resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima.

It was Purisima, after conferring with the President on Oplan Exodus, who told Napeñas not to tell Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer in charge Leonardo Espina about the operation. He also said he himself would “take care” of the Armed Forces chief of staff, which could mean that he would coordinate with Gen. Gregorio Catapang.

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And since Purisima gave the order (it was only “advice,” he claims) to Napeñas after conferring with the President, the SAF commander would be justified in thinking that the order to ignore Roxas and Espina on the operation came from the President himself. P-Noy did not say either what he and Purisima talked about after Napeñas left the room, and after which Purisima gave his “advice” to Napeñas.

P-Noy also did not say why he was dealing with Purisima who, by then, had been suspended as PNP chief by the Ombudsman, and not with PNP OIC Espina. Indeed, there was no mention of his friend Purisima at all in his entire speech, although it is clear that the latter had a big role in planning the operation to catch international terrorist Marwan and his Filipino protege Basit Usman.

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Neither did P-Noy mention that Oplan Exodus accomplished its mission: to get Marwan. Instead of saying “mission accomplished,” he said Exodus was a “mission impossible.”

Had Exodus been aborted, as P-Noy had said, the 44 SAF commandos would still be alive today but Marwan would still be out there teaching rebels how to make bombs that would kill not only 44 but perhaps hundreds or thousands of civilians, including women and children.

It is painful to lose one’s father, husband, brother, or son in a gun battle, yes, but policemen and soldiers know the risks when they go out on an operation. They know that they can get killed, but they accept it and they should be commended for accepting it as part of the job.

Napeñas gallantly accepted responsibility for the tragedy but P-Noy, as Commander in Chief, should have also acknowledged responsibility instead of looking for scapegoats. Soldiers and policemen have a saying regarding their responsibility to one another: “Walang iwanan (no desertion).”

The Commander in Chief should not desert his troops. He should accept his responsibilities like a man.

* * *

Last Dec. 15, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima led a dawn raid at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa. The raid was to ferret out contraband and luxurious items being used by certain favored prisoners who were being allowed by corrupt prison officials to build and live in their own “kubol, or private apartment, within the NBP compound.

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De Lima and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu declared the raid “a success.” Purportedly, a lot of luxury goods, firearms and drugs were discovered and confiscated. De Lima and Bucayu made a big to-do about segregating 19 so-called “high-profile inmates,” most of them of Chinese lineage, and transferring them to the National Bureau of Investigation Detention Center on Taft Avenue in Manila.

There, they were denied visits by relatives and even their lawyers. Expectedly, the lawyers raised a ruckus, as lawyers are wont to do to earn their hefty fees. They filed cases at the Supreme Court and the Office of the Ombudsman against De Lima and other officials.

Curiously, a source from inside the DOJ told me that while the 19 Chinese inmates were supposedly caught red-handed, no case for possession of contraband or guns allegedly confiscated from them has been filed. According to a prosecutor-friend of mine, under DOJ rules of procedure, since the crime was in flagrante, or “caught in the act,” inquest cases should have been filed against the 19 detainees within a few days.

The same source told me that, in all probability, no contraband was in fact seized from the 19 inmates, and that the filing of cases against them is being used by some unscrupulous DOJ officials to extort money from the prisoners who have been held incommunicado since Dec. 15.

I don’t know how true it is, but the source reports that the inmates were told to pay P1.5 million just for the privilege of using a cell phone within their detention facilities.

It seems that there were some takers, and they allegedly paid an advance to certain DOJ personnel. But they balked when told that the P1.5 million was just a down payment, and that for the privilege to continue, they would have to fork out a “maintenance fee” of P500,000 a week. And the advance was no longer returned to them.

In contrast, an influential prisoner reportedly owns the biggest, most luxurious kubol in the NBP compound, and freely uses cell phones and other amenities. His group, in fact, has taken over all the “businesses” inside the NBP, which gross millions of pesos every month.

The move of the DOJ in “neutralizing” the 19 prisoners who were transferred to the NBI Detention Center, our source claims, is a war of sorts between rival factions vying for control of the lucrative trading, legal and illegal, inside the NBP. The payoff to certain DOJ and BuCor officials is said to be “enormous.”

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, Benigno Aquino III, Bilibid raid, BuCor, Franklin Jesus Bucayu, Getulio Napeñas, Leila de Lima, Mamasapano
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