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There was a major police operation against high-profile terrorists, but the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s commander-in-chief cannot be reached.
During a prayer gathering with Christian groups on Monday, President Benigno Aquino III admitted that his phone was turned off when PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) officers launched an operation to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkfli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Basit Usman last January 25.
“Aminin ko, nakapatay ‘yung telepono ko. 7:00 more or less ‘nung pagbangon (ko) binuksan,” Aquino said in his narration of events related to the Mamasapno incident.
So why Aquino’s phone unreachable at the time of the Mamasapano operation, and during the early hours of the deadly encounter?
Aquino’s spokesman, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, replied via text message, “I don’t understand your question. It is normal for anyone to turn off their phone when they go to sleep.”
The Palace official also admitted that Aquino “was informed of the window of the SAF operation”
Pressed further if Aquino habitually turns off his phone when he goes to sleep, Lacierda said he would assume that Aquino does so, “as any normal person would do to get a good rest.”
Aquino’s spokesman further said that like in previous administrations, there were “protocols in place when urgent info is required to reach the President” even late at night.
Sent at 5:45 a.m.
Sent at 5:45 a.m.
The President said he only received at past 7 a.m. a text message sent at 5:45 a.m. by then-suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima providing updates about the operation against Marwan and Usman.
A transcript of text exchanges between Aquino and Purisima presented before the Senate showed that the now-resigned PNP chief indeed informed the President about the results of the Mamasapano operation at 5:45 a.m.
Aquino, however, was only able to reply at 7:36 a.m.—almost two hours after Purisima informed him that Marwan was killed during the mission, and that SAF troopers were already at the “withdrawal phase.”
By the time the President replied, the SAF troopers were already engaged in a firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Forty-four police commandos, 18 MILF fighters and at least five civilians were killed in the clash. —NB, GMA News