It took a feisty, yet sickly, lady senator in the person of Miriam Defensor-Santiago to straighten out ex-PNP Chief Alan Purisima and make him realize that he could not escape the blame for the untimely and gruesome death that befall the Fallen 44.
Santiago’s scorching rebuke on Purisima’s unethical and clandestine leading role in Oplan Exodus, which was a covert police operation to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Moro cohort Basit Usman, despite being out of the PNP organization because of his preventive suspension by the Ombudsman, made him look like a loser.
Or is it the look of a person haunted by guilt, who, before Santiago’s attendance in the senate hearing, has vehemently denied he was calling the shots, saying, he was only giving advice?
This time, however, he could not deny his involvement as he admitted that he felt he was accountable for the botched operation that took the lives of 44 police commandos, and that is why he resigned.
This, after Santiago asked Purisima: “Who was responsbile above the level of the SAF commander? Lahat na lang ituro niyo sa SAF commander! 44 are dead and you are all pointing fingers at the SAF commander!”
Being accountable is being answerable for the death of the Fallen 44, who were mercilessly massacred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Thus, it becomes undeniably true also that the one answerable is also liable or responsible for whatever blunders and flaws that resulted to numerous deaths from government forces in an area controlled by Muslim rebels.
What made it even more damning for Purisima is that he kept Oplan Exodus exclusively for himself, President Aquino, and former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas, while ensuring from the latter that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina be kept in the dark until such time that the police commandos were deployed in enemy territory.
The question now is: Since Aquino had his ears only for Purisima on this covert and dangerous operation embarked by the police, what does that speak of him as the President and commander-in-chief, who wantonly disregarded the important people in the important chain-of-command and relied solely instead on the information/updates given him by a friend and protégé, who didn’t even have the right and moral obligation to participate directly in delicate police operation by virtue of his status as suspended PNP chief?
In retrospect, there were only three people who deliberately knew about the police special forces’ mobilization and activation of what is to be known as Oplan Exodus: Naspeñas, Puriima and Aquino.
Before Santiago’s appearance in the Senate hearing, Sen. Grace Poe and the rest of the senators seemed to have put the blame on Napeñas for the death of the Fallen 44. This, after none of them was able to enunciate the right ‘sound bite’ that Santiago frustratingly uttered to make Purisima admit his culpability.
“You only advised, you only ordered, really? Bakit salita ka ng salita? Bakit hindi ka nanahimik sa estate mo sa Nueva Ecija? Kung hindi ka siguro nakisali doon, buhay pa sana sila! (Why did you keep on talking? Why did you not keep quiet at your estate in Nueva Ecija? Probably, if you did not force yourself to participate, they will still be alive.) Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? You should hear yourself talk!”, Santiago told Purisima during the hearing.
All eyes now are looking at Aquino, the president and commander-in-chief, who allowed events to happen the way it happened, and waiting for him to tell the truth.
President Aquino is the last man standing and he is the one bearing the truth.
Lame duck president Aquino may be, and telling the truth may not bring back to life the Fallen 44, but the truth is the only way we can start moving forward and, perhaps, salvage the creation of the now uncertain Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.