By Kathlyn dela Cruz | ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima was again placed on the hot seat on Tuesday as he was repeatedly asked by senators why he "ordered" the director of the Special Action Force (SAF) to keep PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the dark about the Mamasapano operation.
At the continuation of the Senate inquiry this morning, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. grilled Purisima, who was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman last December for a graft case, why he felt the need to keep Espina and Roxas out of the loop in connection with the January 25 operation.
"This is not only usurpation of authority. This is also breaking the chain of command... You, as a suspended chief PNP, were issuing orders to keep the acting chief PNP in the dark on a very critical mission," Marcos told Purisima.
Purisima, however, refused to accept the senator's statement that he issued an order to relieved SAF director Getulio Napeñas, insisting that he merely gave him advice prior to the execution of the mission to take down terror suspects Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.
"I did not give any orders. I gave advice," Purisima maintained.
But Marcos pointed out that Purisima's supposed advice was nonetheless followed as an order by Napeñas, who coordinated with Espina as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) only when the SAF troopers were already engaged in a firefight with Muslim rebels in the morning of January 25.
Forty-four elite police commandos were killed in the bloody encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Marcos asked Purisima if the reason why he wanted to keep the two officials out of the loop was because he did not trust them. Purisima said no.
"Hindi po ganun. Ang nakasaad po sa plano ng PNP SAF ay 'time on target,'" Purisima said. "The operation said that it should be 'time on target' for everybody. So I just followed the principle on the 'time on target.'"
He added that the "advice" was "for operational security purposes."
In connection with Purisima's answer, Senate President Franklin Drilon later also asked the suspended and resigned PNP chief: "So you did not trust the operational security responsibility of the two gentlemen?"
But Purisima again insisted, "I was already suspended. I was only giving an advice... That is not a judgment. That is only an advice to the director of SAF."
Drilon then stated, "I give up."