Press Release
February 12, 2015

Miriam's interpellation questions in Mamasapano hearing

Questions for Gen. Alan Purisima
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
12 February 2015

1. You were placed on preventive suspension on December 19, 2014. Suspension is defined as "the temporary deprivation of a person's powers or privileges, specially public officers." And yet you continued to participate in preparations for a law-enforcement activity.

According to jurisprudence, you overstepped your limits. For example, in the 2009 case ofAldovino v. Comelec, (609 SCRA 234), the Supreme Court held: "In all cases of preventive suspension, the suspended official is barred from performing the functions of his office." Thus, it appears that by participating in secret discussions you have violated the terms of your preventive suspension.

I also add that you were placed on preventive suspension by the Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act, which provides that the Ombudsman may preventively suspend any officer, if in the Ombudsman's judgment the evidence of guilt is strong.

In sum, it appears that you have gone against the ruling of the Supreme Court and that the Ombudsman considers the evidence of guilt is strong in the plunder case filed against you. But I insist on the more important question: What made you violate the terms of your preventive suspension?

2. During the period that you have been serving out your preventive suspension, how many times did you talk with President Aquino about Oplan Exodus?

3. Since you were privy to the preparations for Oplan Exodus, you would necessarily know who was the person in charge of the operation, above the level of the SAF commander. Who was this person?

4. Did President Aquino himself give the direct order for Oplan Exodus to begin?

5. In advising Gen. Napeñas not to tell Secretary Roxas and Gen. Espina about the start of Oplan Exodus, was there a problem of trust with these two public officials?

Questions for Sec. Voltaire Gazmin
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
12 February 2015

1. The Department of National Defense includes the Anti-Terrorism Council created under the Human Security Act of 2007. It is headed by the executive secretary as chair, the Secretary of Justice as the vice-chair, and includes the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of National Defense, Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Secretary of Finance, and the National Security Advisor.

The law specifically states that "The Anti-Terrorism Council shall implement this Act and assume the responsibility for the proper and effective implementation of the anti-terrorism policy of the country." Further on, the law also states: "The Council shall formulate and adopt comprehensive, adequate, efficient, and effective anti-terrorism plans, programs, and counter-measures to suppress and eradicate terrorism in the country and to protect the people from acts of terrorism."

Still further on, the law enumerates the functions of the Council which I shall selectively enumerate:

"1. Formulate and adopt plans, programs and counter-measures against terrorists and acts of terrorism in the country;

"2. Coordinate all national efforts to supress and eradicate acts of terrorism in the country and mobilize the entire nation against terrorism prescribed in this Act; . . . .

"4. Establish and maintain comprehensive database information system on terrorism, terrorist activities, and counter-terrorism operations; . . . .

"6. Grant monetary rewards and other incentives to informers who give vital information leading to apprehension, arrest, detention, prosecution, and conviction of person or persons who are liable for the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism."

I am aghast that notwithstanding the clear provisions of the law on the functions of the Anti-Terrorism Council, news reports and opening statements in this hearing do not mention the Council or what role, if any, it played during Oplan Exodus.

2. How do you explain the obvious shut-out of the Council? Was the Council shut-out because the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government - who was denied information about Oplan Exodus - is a member of the Council? If so, what was the reason for the exclusion?

Questions for Gen. Getulio Napeñas
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
12 February 2015

1. As SAF commander, unfortunately you assume command responsibility for that fiasco. Why did you not coordinate with the military units on the ground, so that you could have provided support to the SAF policemen when they were beleaguered?

2. Why did you fail to inform acting PNP Chief Leonardo Espina about Oplan Exodus? Why did you inform your director-general only by a text message sent by you, and only after the operation was already underway?

3. Why was there a time gap from the time SAF first appealed for help, until helped arrived at the time when it was probably too late?

4. Why were the ceasefire mechanisms not applied to this operation?

5. When did the operation start? The timing was bad, because Muslims are already awake before 5:00 a.m., the time when they start their morning prayers. When the SAF shot Marwan to death, the noise from the shots alerted the MILF base commander.

The situation became worse, because after the neutralization of the target, the SAF started the extraction process, and walked as easy targets into a trap by the MILF and BIFF.

6. Just like the timing, the execution was also bad. Why did the SAF fail to establish a wide security area? For example, why did the SAF fail to occupy vantage grounds around the target? Why did they fail to establish security along the trees around the targets? I understand that the encounter took place in an open cornfield.

The SAF apparently took a defensive position in the corn field without any cover. They could not leave because the route was within the line of fire of the enemies. Literally, they were trapped. Heroically, the SAF police fought until they run out of ammunition. Military analysts say that at that point, it seems that the MILF just walked toward each policeman and shot them one by one. That is why we call it a massacre, and not just a mere encounter.

7. Reportedly, you went to the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division and asked for help, but the people were caught by surprise. Apparently, there were no Quick Reaction Forces; no Target Reference Points for Delivery of Indirect Fire; no air force strike assets to take off and deliver supporting fires; no armored assets ready to move on pre-planned lanes to support the troops; no Forward Observers who could have advised the Fire Direction Center to adjust the fires.

I understand that the Quick Reaction Forces like Scout Ranger battalions are deployed out of Central Mindanao which covers Surigao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Bukidnon.

8. Was there any effort to make the link analysis based on CLAN linkages of security threats and concerns covering MILF, BIFF, MNLF, and other groups?

9. What was the role of the U.S. government in this operation? At the very least, it was the U.S. government which announced financial rewards for the capture and death of the terrorists. How do you respond to the rumors that there was lack of coordination between the DND operatives and SAF, because each group wanted the reward money for itself to the exclusion of the other groups?

Questions for Mr. Mohagher Iqbal Chief Negotiator for the MILF
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
12 February 2015

1. Can the MILF claim with a straight face that you in the MILF did not know that international terrorist Marwan and his local counterpart Usman were hiding and possibly operating within the MILF sphere of control?

2. Apparently, these terrorists felt safe in MILF territory. Why? Even assuming for the sake of argument that the terrorists were in BIFF territory, why did the BIFF consent?

3. Why did MILF and BIFF not coordinate with the government by sharing intelligence information, when the two groups know very well that the presence of terrorists in their midst would cast doubt on their sincerity during the peace process?

4. Why did the MILF join the firefight and attack the SAF men?

5. Did the MILF coordinate with the BIFF in that fight?

6. How come the shooting lasted almost half a day, until all but one of the trapped SAF men was killed?

7. There were rumors that the dead were robbed of all their possessions. If so, who committed the robbery?

8. Is the MILF willing to surrender the rogue leaders who led what appeared to be a carnage, and join the government in chasing down Usman and other terrorist suspects?

9. How do you expect the Bangsamoro Basic Law to pass the Senate with this perfidious tragedy?

Questions for Sec. Leila de Lima
By Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
12 February 2015

1. In international law, why is there a distinction between international armed conflict on the one hand; and non-international armed conflict on the other hand? I ask this question for the education of the public.

(States consider their relationships with other states as different from their relationships with non-state actors. This distinction enables states to refuse to legitimize terrorists and other armed groups.)

2. What challenge is posed by the development and application of humanitarian law to these non-international armed conflicts?

(Non-international armed conflicts are asymmetrical in nature. It involves surprise attacks by small, simply armed groups on a nation with sophisticated modern armed forces.)

3. What is the distinction between a situation of armed conflict and a situation of law-enforcement?

(There are very few international instruments on law enforcement, and the distinction is vague.)

4. Does international law - which is part of the law of the land - cover non-international armed conflicts?

(Yes: humanitarian law and human rights law. For example, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court includes non-international armed conflict in the concept of "war crimes.")

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