BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will be lead the police organization's probe into a bloody encounter between elite police and rebel forces in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
In a text message to reporters, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced the composition of the Board of Inquiry:
The probe will determine the circumstances surrounding the death of 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in a botched law enforcement operation in Mamasapano town, a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Among the PNP’s best-trained personnel, 392 SAF troopers were on a January 25 operation to neutralize bomb makers Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman, among the most wanted in Southeast Asia.
Top government officials – Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and PNP acting chief Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina – were supposedly left out of the loop in the planning and execution of the operation.
President Benigno Aquino III admitted he was directly coordinating with PNP SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas leading up to the operation, but refused to categorically answer if he gave the go-signal for the operation or not.
According to Rappler sources and various news reports, it was suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, a close friend of Aquino’s, who called the shots that day.
Rodriguez is Purisima’s classmate in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, while Po is Purisima’s spokesman. According to a senior police official, however, neither of the senior officers are protegés or known associates of the suspended chief.
Espina, Roxas, and even military forces in the area only found out about the January 25 operation after the troopers had entered the area.
The two groups – from the 84th seaborne battalion and the 5th special action battalion – called for reinforcements as they were trapped in an intense battle with MILF and BIFF fighters.
The military was supposedly unable to enter the area because they were informed too late.
Aside from the PNP's Board of Inquiry, the MILF will be conducting its own probe into the incident. Both houses of Congress are also set to hold separate probes into the encounter. – Rappler.com