Aquino not liable for death of SAF44 – ex-solgen Hilbay

Former Solicitor Gen. Florin Hilbay INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — Should former President Benigno Aquino III be held liable for the botched Mamasapano operation? Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay does not think so.

“Hindi. Sa aking pananaw, nagbigay siya ng isang utos sa kanyang subordinate. Hindi nagawa ng kanyang subordinate yung utos na ‘yon. Hindi pwedeng managot ang isang pinuno sa kamalian ng kanyang subordinate,” Hilbay said during the “fast-talk” round of a senatorial debate Sunday night.

On January 25, 2015, 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed during a counterterrorism operation launched by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on orders of Aquino.

Two years after, Aquino, former PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, the former SAF commander, were charged with graft and usurpation of official functions for bypassing the PNP chain of command.

READ: SAF 44 and ‘Oplan Exodus’ in Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Aquino was blamed for allowing Purisima, who was suspended at the time, to handle the operation.

Other top police and military officials were also allegedly kept in the dark about the operation to prevent any leaks.

READ: Aquino faces raps for usurpation of authority over Mamasapano mess

The former president has repeatedly denied his accountability saying the ground commander disobeyed his instruction to coordinate with the military, which he said could have provided artillery and air support to the commandos.

However, Napeñas said that Aquino should own up to the debacle, having sent the commandos to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan in the morning of January 25, 2015. /cbb

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