By John Carlo Cahinhinan and Ruth Abbey Gita | SunStar.com
THE Senate committee on local government approved on Friday the bill seeking to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to October 2016.
SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. challenged President Benigno Aquino III to explain his role in the bloody Mamasapano operation on January 25.
"The President should speak up on what really happened, who was really involved, what was the sequence of events, and what was the timeline: where did it happen, where the meeting was, and what was the President's role in the whole Mamasapano situation," said Marcos.
Marcos believed that there was no one could order resigned national police chief Alan Purisima, who is serving a suspension order issued by Ombudsman, to participate in the planning of the covert operation except the President.
"No one will authorize General Purisima to participate in this operation. No one can order General Purisima except for one who is higher than him, the President," he said.
Since Purisima was under preventive suspension, Marcos said the resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief was prohibited from performing his duties as well as issuing orders.
Purisima, however, said in the previous hearing of the Senate, that what he gave to Napenas was not an order but rather an "advice."
"Although my preventive suspension prevented me from carrying out administrative functions, it did not prevent me from providing inputs, advice to the force commander," Purisima said.
Marcos, however, said the "advice" is still considered as an "order."
"The truth is, whether he just gave an advice to the PNP officials, it was still an order for them. Whatever he called it, the truth is, it looked like an order," he said.
Marcos said he wanted to know who authorized the suspended national police chief to join the mission of the Special Action Forces to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, especially now that the President's name had been dragged in the previous hearing of the Senate.
On Monday, sacked PNP-SAF Getulio Napeñas said in a Senate hearing that he and Purisima met the President at the Bahay Pangarap in Malacanang last January 9 for a mission update.
Napeñas added that Purisima ordered him not to tell Armed Forces chief General Pio Catapang Jr. and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II regarding the operation.
"I wanted to ask who authorized the suspended PNP chief to join briefings and meetings and issue orders to his officials. The authorization must have come from an official with higher post. Who ranked higher than General Purisima? Perhaps, it is Secretary Mar and the President. But Secretary Mar was out of the picture since he was not informed. We really have to know who," Marcos said.
At the joint hearing of the House committee public order and safety and the committee on peace, reconciliation and unity on Wednesday, Purisima invoked the executive privilege when asked by Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares if President Aquino has a direct participation in the Mamasapano operation.
"I am invoking executive privilege because it involved communications between me and the President concerning national security," said Purisima.
Purisima said that he will talk first to the Chief Executive before he will disclose the details of their conversation to the panel.
Colmenares insisted that the former PNP chief can not invoke such privilege in the congressional inquiry.
"That's out of order because under our rules he's supposed to answer our questions," Colmenares said.
Colmenares said Purisima was in the best position to answer all the questions with regard to the January 25 operation of the PNP-SAF.
PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina admitted to the House panel that he was "kept in the dark" about the operation while Napeñas said Aquino did not give the go-signal for the operation.
"Personally wala akong alam kung ano ang alam ng Presidente dito, lalo na dito sa Mamasapano, dahil ako mismo wala akong alam," said Espina.
Colmenares moved to summon President Aquino in the hearing but majority of the panel members, who are mostly allies of Aquino, did not approve it.
The joint congressional panel will resume its hearing on February 17.