Purisima, Napeñas and the lack of coordination in the Mamasapano massacre

Ex-SAF commander Getulio Naspeñas and Ex- PNP chief Alan Purisima

Ex-SAF commander Getulio Napeñas and Ex- PNP chief Alan Purisima

The two days Senate hearings on the Mamasapano massacre already have given the public the perception that the succeeding sessions would be a repetition of the same, and that is – questioning the role of then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima, accusing relieved Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas for breaking the chain-of-command and the utter lack of coordination in paying a high price – 44 police commandos massacred – for the killing of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, when Oplan Exodus was put into action.

The utter lack of coordination was frustratingly expressed by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who said it would have made a whole lot of a difference had he been made part of the highly dangerous covert mission to go after Marwan and his accomplice, Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman.

While we may not have heard of PNP officer-in-charge Director General Leonardo Espina complaining that he, too, like Roxas, was kept in the dark about Oplan Exodus, surely, whatever input he may had had could also have made a difference.

The fact alone that Purisima seemed to have been in control of the situation, even when he was on a suspended status, from secretly discussing with President Aquino (PNoy) about the covert mission and its intricacies, to facilitating the meeting of Napeñas with PNoy so the former could apprise the latter about Oplan Exodus that was soon to be executed, only shows how significant Purisima’s role was in the operation. It did not matter really whether he was advising or not, the fact is that his opinion seemed to have the blessing of PNoy who trusts him – blindly.

Thus, what else could Napeñas do but follow the ‘advise’ of Purisima when the latter told him not to inform Roxas and Espina of the operation. To Napeñas, it was as if PNoy was telling him the same thing, and it was a big folly to go against it.

What made Purisima’s ‘advise’ even more disturbing was when Purisima said that he will be the one to inform Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. about Oplan Exodus.

Purisima’s idea of having Roxas and Espina out of the loop, and making himself responsible of informing Catapang about Oplan Exodus was nothing but a recipe for a disastrous mission.

It was bad enough that Purisima intentionally ordered the PNP chain-of-command to be broken, but taking the responsibility of coordinating with the military, when Napeñas could have done it better and sooner as he was in the best position and situation than Purisima, was equally a tragic mistake. Napeñas was the expert, not Purisima.

Napeñas may have realized the consequences of Purisima’s arrogant and selfish decision, but like a good soldier he simply had to abide by it, thinking that it also had the sanction of PNoy.

Now the Mamasapano massacre is putting Napeñas in dilemma.

It is also putting the Mindanao peace process in peril, while PNoy continue keeping his deafening silence.


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