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Opposition kingpin Juan Ponce Enrile on Saturday labelled President Benigno Aquino III as "the worst president this country ever had".
The Senate minority leader made the statement in a media forum where he gave his assessment of Oplan Exodus or the police mission that resulted in the infamous Mamasapano encounter in January 2015.
He said the mission's failure could be laid entirely at the feet of President Aquino.
"Yung mga sundalo, theirs is not to reason why, theirs is just to do and die... Who can defy a president? In this country, a president is the precipatory power. He is the head of state, head of government, chief executive, commander in chief, and the top policeman," Enrile said in a media forum.
"Sabi ni (Justice Secretary Leila) de Lima, walang command chain ang police. Paano aandar yung kapulisan kung walang command chain? The command chain is from the chief executive," he added.
Enrile was defense secretary in the Marcos and the first Aquino administration.
The 91-year-old opposition lawmaker said he did not expect Aquino to turn out to be a "lousy" leader.
"I measure him, he's the worst president this country ever had," he said.
"He is the one guilty," Enrile later remarked.
He said while then Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas made his share of mistakes during the police operation, he couldn't have defied orders from the president even with the knowledge that these instructions were inadequate.
"Sinasabi ninyo tanga si Napeñas. Ipagpalagay nating tanga, pero sino ang mas tanga? Yung inutusan na tanga or yung nag-utos ng tanga?" Enrile said.
He then cited, despite his misgivings about the US, President Barack Obama's famous order to get US forces to safety after taking down Al Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden as an action Aquino should emulate.
"The president can use the power of being the king, the head of state... he is the only one who can save anybody in this country. He can pardon you... he can use the powers of the police or the military to save your life if necessary," Enrile remarked.
"Ang narinig ko na lang na sinabi, okay, be calm, keep your head. 'Di natin pababayaan ang tropa natin- patay nang lahat sila nung sinabi 'yun," he added.
While the US downplayed their involvement in the operation, Enrile said the bounty on suspected bombmaker Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan showed how much Washington valued his capture or death more than the Philippines did.
"The dollar reward is $5 million. At P40 per dollar, that's P200 million. What is the reward given by PNoy? P7 million. That is the worth of Marwan as a threat to us compared to the threat to America," he said.
Recent statements by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg also proved the government's attempt at portraying the Mamasapano encounter as a purely Filipino attempt at combating terrorism as false.
"Kinonfirm na ni Goldberg na they participated at the request of the Philippine government. What more proof do you need? Second: if this is solely a Philippine project why was there a dollar reward bigger than the peso reward?" Enrile said.
The country's inability to defend itself at home made it clear that the government was unprepared to engage China, whom Enrile insisted had designs on the Philippines.
Sen. Enrile: They cannot even handle Mamasapano, do they think they can handle an invasion? pic.twitter.com/T4qCq8FGxy— Rie Takumi (@rie_takumi) February 13, 2016
"This government is not serious, they don't understand what's going on... They talk big. They cannot even handle the Mamasapano, do you think they can handle an invasion?" Enrile said.
"China is a vulnerable country. But against us, they can impose their will," he added. — APG, GMA News