Chain of Command

Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima said he did not give orders but merely advised Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napenas on the operation to capture 2 high-profile terrorist targets. At the Senate hearing on Monday, Purisima said Napenasknows very well that he can’t and should not follow orders from anyone who is not in the chain of command.

Purisima, who was serving his 6-month suspension for a graft case at the time of the Mamasapano operation on January 25, said he was merely advising Napenas.

According to Alan Purisima that during his preventive suspension, he did not give any orders to any PNP official or personnel regarding Oplan Exodus. But if ever  he uttered words to that effect, it was in the form of an advice, not a directive or order. A command should be followed, an advice may not be followed but if your  boss told you that this is what you should do. You are left with no choice but to follow what he says.

The lack of coordination among security officials, including the Armed Forces, is being seen as the fatal flaw that led to the death of 44 police commandos. Eighteen members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and several civilians were also killed.

Earlier in the hearing, Napenas took responsibility for the operation, saying it was his judgment call to follow the advice of Purisima not to inform PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas about the critical operation.

He said Purisima sent him a text message on January 19 asking: “What’s your plan?”

Napenas said he only informed Purisima of the possible dates of the actual operation.

“It’s me who decided to go on that window of January 23 to 26,” Napenas said.

He said there was no direct order “but I based that decision to go based on a continuing operation.”

Purisima said he found out about the Mamasapano incident already on the day of the jump-off.

General Purisima should not have had a hand in the planning of the operation.

“Suspension means you cannot perform the normal functions of command, administration and even leadership,” he explains and adds:

“This long silence of President Aquino with regard to the whereabouts and actions of Purisima is another important part of the problem to bring out a better solution for a better future for the whole country.

“Unless that is resolved, we are going to have more such fiascoes and not just by the incumbent but in the future. We must resolve and understand this whole thing of the loop and the chain of command both for the civilians and the military and police.”

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