MANILA, Philippines -- Resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima committed “usurpation of authority” and broke the chain of command with his advice to keep Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina in the dark about the disastrous January 25 mission to get wanted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”
This was the accusation Tuesday of Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as he questioned Purisima on his role in the mission, which is said to have killed Marwan but at the cost of 44 Special Action Force commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Fighters and at least five civilians in Mamasapano, Maguindanao and the peace process in Mindanao in peril.
When Marcos asked Purisima, who maintained that he had no direct hand in the Mamasapano mission after his suspension on graft charges in early December, why he had “cut out” Roxas and Espina, the former PNP chief said this was because the operation plan required that everyone not directly involved should be informed of the operation at “time on target,” or when the SAF units were already on the ground.
“But this is the acting chief of the PNP,” Marcos pointed out. “This is not only usurpation of authority, (this is) breaking of the chain of command.”
“It is very clear that you, (who were already) suspended, were issuing orders to keep the acting PNP chief in the dark,” he added.
When Purisima reiterated that he “did not give any orders, only advice” to sacked Special Action Force commander Director Getulio Napenas, Marcos retorted: “Nevertheless that advice was followed as an order.”
Purisima maintained this line of reply when Marcos asked: “So you did not trust the Secretary of Interior and Local Government (or) your second-in-command?”
“Hindi po ganoon, Your Honor, nakasaad sa operation plan (It wasn’t like that, Your Honor, it was in the operation plan),” he said.
Purisima’s reticence also tested Drilon’s patience when the Senate president asked him if there was “anything in the operation plan not to inform the Secretary of Interior and Local Government or the acting PNP chief.”
“I don’t know,” Purisima answered, to which an incredulous Drilon asked if, on the basis of “operational security,” he made “the judgment call” not to inform Roxas and Espina.
When Purisima stuck to the line that he “did not give an order, only advice,” Drilon snapped: “I give up.”
Purisima also admitted that, despite his suspension at the time, he took it on himself to inform Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., about the operation during "time on target."