Relieved Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima refused to disclose his communication with President Aquino on the deadly anti-terror operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 elite cops dead.
Citing executive privilege, Purisima said he cannot divulge his correspondence with Aquino on the mission to hunt terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan because it supposedly involves national security.
The former PNP chief, who resigned last week amid public outrage on his role in the botched anti-terror raid wherein 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) were killed, has insisted that he did not call the shots during the operation.
Purisima was suspended by the Ombudsman in December over graft and corruption allegations against him.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares meanwhile said that Purisima cannot invoke executive privilege, saying only the President has such right.
Purisima was invited again to the House hearing on Feb. 17 to answer lawmakers’ questions. The House panel however shot down Colmenares’ request to invite President Aquino to the next congressional hearing to testify on the Mamasapano bloodbath.
Malacanang said on Wednesday that the President cannot be compelled to attend the Senate and House inquiries amid allegations that the President was in the loop during the Mamasapano operation.
“I think those questions can be asked from collateral persons who are involved in the operation,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a report, referring to questions on Aquino’s involvement in the operation.
Lacierda also defended President Aquino’s move to consult with Purisima regarding the manhunt against Marwan despite Purisima’s suspension, adding that no law prohibits the President from getting the views of a suspended official for his executive decision-making.
Previously, sacked SAF commander Getullo Napenas admitted that it was Purisima who brought him to Malacanang to brief the President on the mission.
Napenas also revealed that Purisima advised him to keep in the dark the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II, and acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina during the operation.
Amid the ongoing probe, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said former PNP chief Purisima may be criminally charged for his involvement in the botched police operation to kill Marwan.
“We will have to await the finding of the fact-finding [body], then the possible criminal charge we can slap on him is usurpation of authority, he was under suspension,” Morales said as she also confirmed that her office is conducting a parallel investigation.