Ex-SAF director on Mamasapano clash: Why not file a case against PNoy?

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Former Special Action Force (SAF) head Director Getulio Napeñas

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A key personality in the controversial Mamasapano encounter two years ago is asking why no complaint was filed against former President Benigno Aquino.

"Bakit kami lang? Bakit hindi kasama yung nag-utos ng operasyon na yun? Si Presidente Aquino, bakit hindi sya kasama sa kinasuhan dun sa Sandiganbayan eh siya nag-utos at nagbigay ng basbas at nangasiwa ng operasyon na yun talaga," former Philippine National Police (PNP)-Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas told CNN Philippines' Balitaan in a phone interview.

[Translation: Why only us? Why was the administrator of the operation exempted from the cases filed in Sandiganbayan? President Aquino gave us the orders and the directive for that operation.]

Napeñas and former PNP chief Alan Purisima are facing graft and usurpation of authority charges. Purisima is also under investigation for possible violation of the police chain of command. He was actively involved in decision-making before and during the encounter, while under preventive suspension.

Authorities also filed multiple homicide charges against Aquino a few days after his term ended. The former president dismissed these as mere harrassment.

The Mamasapano clash on Jan. 25, 2015 killed 44 SAF commandos, 17 rebels and at least five civilians, as well as violated a ceasefire deal with Moro rebels. It was an operation to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias "Marwan," who has a $5-million bounty from the US government.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday Aquino should be held liable for the incident.

"You could have just simply say, 'Eh ako 'yung gumawa nito (I did this). Ako 'yung nag-order ( I ordered this) but I left it to Purisima to do the direction. But I made the crucial decision, and maybe, along the way, I was also giving my inputs with the sense of being the in charge, the highest official there,'" Duterte said in an event with families of the SAF commandos.

The President also said he is forming a commission to establish the truth behind the controversial operation.

"I will appoint men of integrity and honor and kung tanggapin nila, then, I'll choose mostly the justices of the Supreme Court. Maybe, a few from the civilian sector, maybe a lawyer," Duterte said.

Napeñas supported the move.

"Yung commission na yun, independent, yung hindi tainted ng politics. Unlike yung mga imbestigasyon dun sa Senado at saka dun sa (House of Representatives), may halong politiko na yun. Kung yung independent talaga na commission yung magsasagawa ng imbestigasyon, maganda yun para lumabas talaga yung katotohanan," he said.

[Translation: The commission should be independent and untainted by politics. In Senate and House of Representatives' investigations, politics is involved. If the commission would really be independent, it would be nice so the truth will be revealed.]

Aquino is expected to release a statement on Thursday that will responde to Duterte's remarks.