Aquino blames Napeñas anew for Mamasapano deaths: I didn't order him anything illegal

Photo by Julliane Love de Jesus/

Facing criminal charges over the deadly Mamasapano raid, former president Benigno Aquino III maintained anew that the orders he gave to former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas on the ill-fated operation were “logical” and “legal.”

In a lengthy press conference on Friday afternoon, Aquino pinned the blame on Napeñas for risking the life of his men in a “suicide” operation that that led to the death of 44 SAF commandos.

Aquino scored Napeñas for lying and committing to him that he will deploy 160 personnel from SAF’s Seaborne company when its actual strength was only at 75 personnel.

Thirty seven Seaborne members led the assault on the hut of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir or “Marwan” in Barangay (village) Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Marwan was killed in the attack.

“Pinromote kita, second star, at ang sukli mo bobolahin mo ako? (I promoted you [Napeñas] to second star and you returned the favor by fooling me?)” Aquino, shaking his head, said.

Aquino, after posting bail at the Sandiganbayan for his graft and usurpation charges, called for a press conference to give his side of the story—complete with a powerpoint presentation containing the details of the police operation.

At the time Napeñas presented the plan to the former Chief Executive, Aquino said he had already warned that a “pintakasi” might occur since the area of operation had an expected 3,400 armed group members.

That was why he repeatedly told Napeñas to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) before launching the operation.

But Napeñas, in his earlier statements, said that he decided to inform the AFP “time-on-target” or on the day of the operation to protect it from being “compromised.”

Even after his term as president, Aquino said he would study the details of the operation’s planning and aftermath during his downtime to see “what went wrong.”

Aquino recalled that when he met the SAF survivors from the Seaborne company, one of them said the mission was “highly dangerous like a suicide mission.”

He said he was asking himself what drove Napeñas to push through with the mission despite the high risk.

“I kept asking na anong pumasok sa isip nito na susugal ng ganon katindi (what came over him to take such big risk). What was driving him. Ito maraming nag-speculate, ‘yung reward, ‘yung “pride chicken o magreretire na gusto ng feather in his cap (Many speculated: he was after the reward, or his arrogance prevailed as he wanted to reap the honor because he was retiring) but I don’t know and honestly, I never got to talk to him after January 25,” Aquino said.

Prior to the debacle, he said he trusted Napeñas, like how he trusted everyone he appointed and promoted within the PNP.

“Hindi ko siya pinapagawa ng bagay na ilegal (I didn’t order him anything illegal),” he reiterated.

Asked if he was keen on filing charges against Napeñas, Aquino said he has to think first if it would be “for his personal interest or for the interest of the country.”

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