President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said deadly Mamasapano incident in 2015 was a sad consequence of running after the $5-million bounty for the head of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as Marwan.
Speaking before the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division in Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, Duterte said Oplan Exodus was all about Marwan's bounty.
"Katong sa Mamasapano, it was a question of greed. Puro sila ano, sa SAF, somebody directing them para makuha nila reward $5 million," Duterte said, claiming that the SAF troops were directed by someone who was after the bounty.
("What happened in Mamasapano, it was a question of greed.")
In an anti-terror operation in January 2015, 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao as they went after Marwan.
Promise to troops
Last January while campaigning for the presidency, Duterte claimed he was with then-President Benigno Aquino III in Zamboanga City during the Mamasapano incident.
According to Duterte, it was then-Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who invited him to join Aquino at the Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City on January 25 last year.
Duterte had then refused to disclose details of his attendance at the airbase, saying these were confidential.
On Wednesday, Duterte promised law enforcers that there will not be another Mamasapano incident during his watch.
Duterte said, "These are the things na dili mahitabo sa akong panahon. Dili ko musugot anang tinorpe na desisyon. It's very stupid. Maasahan na nila iyan. Dili ko musugot ug in-ana [These are the things that will not happen during my time. I will not allow another clumsy decision. It's very stupid. You can count on me. I will not allow it to happen]."
Former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas, meanwhile, said he had no idea about the $5 million bounty supposedly being the motivation for the operation, reitarating it was Aquino who ordered the mission.
"Ang nag-utos at nag-direkta sa planning, preparation, at execution ng operation kay Marwan ay si PNoy mismo. Kung 'yong reward money ang motive nya, hindi namin abot at malaman dahil 'di nya sinabi," Napeñas said in a text message to GMA News Online.
"Sa totoo lang, hindi ko naman pwede tanungin sa kanya 'yan noong nag-briefing ako sa Bahay Pangarap na, 'Mr President ang motive mo ba sa pag-utos sa amin ay 'yong reward money?,'" Napeñas added.
"Alam namin na ang reward ay mapupunta sa informant, at hindi SAF ang may hawak sa informant, kaya wala ni kusing natanggap ang SAF na reward." —with Amita Legaspi/VVP/JST, GMA News