President Benigno Aquino III was aware that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will only know of the top secret plan for the capture of two high-profile terrorists once the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers sent to nab them were already on the ground, sacked SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas said.
A video obtained by ABS-CBN and GMA showed Napeñas briefing Interior Sec. Mar Roxas, Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin a day after the Jan. 25 clash between SAF troopers and Moro rebels in Mamasapano at the headquarters of the Army 6th Infantry Division.
During the briefing, Napeñas confessed that he kept the SAF’s mission secret from the AFP “considering the sensitivity of [the intelligence] packet” and because of previous failed operations.
Pressed by Roxas on more information, Napeñas said the only officials briefed about the SAF’s mission were then-suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, Sr. Supt. Jojo Mendez, head of the PNP intelligence group, and the President.
“My recommendation when I was briefing the President, sir, is, we will inform the AFP time on target, sir,” he said. “Time on target” means the AFP will only be informed of the plan when the SAF commandos were already in the operation area.
When Gazmin asked Napeñas when he informed he informed the 6th ID about the SAF operation, the then-SAF chief replied that he sent a text message “in between three and four in the morning.”
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th ID, however, disputed Napeñas’ statement by showing Gazmin the text he received from Napeñas.
“It says here, five. The text message was received 5 o’clock in the morning, 5:06,” Gazmin said. “That is not a coordination. You call that a coordination?”
Aside from Roxas and Gazmin, the other officials present at the briefing were AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang, PNP OIC Leonardo Espina and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman.