10 February 2015

Justice Secretary: No law prohibits President Aquino from consulting former Police Chief Purisima
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has said that President Benigno S. Aquino III did not violate any law when he consulted then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Alan Purisima regarding the police operation to apprehend two terrorist suspects in Maguindanao.

“No law prohibits the President from exercising his discretion to get the views of a suspended official on a particular matter if this would raise the confidence level of the President’s executive decision-making, so long as the act does not involve the performance of official functions pertaining to the post from which the official concerned was suspended,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Tuesday quoted Secretary de Lima as saying.

Coloma was responding to a question from reporters whether the President violated any law when he consulted Purisima over the operation. According to the President, Purisima was helping him with the “jargons” to better understand the operation.Suspended chief of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas has told the Senate inquiry that he, Purisima and PNP Intelligence Group Director Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez briefed the President regarding the operation last January 9 at Bahay Parangap, inside the Malacañang Compound.

Coloma noted that Bahay Pangarap is the official residence of the President “where he also receives visitors and conducts meetings.”

He declined to give further comments, saying it would be “inappropriate to give comments at this time because the testimonies given by individual resource persons need to be understood in the proper context.”

“It is also important to await the findings of the PNP Board of Inquiry and other fact-finding bodies which are conducting similar inquiries,” he added.

The police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 succeeded in neutralizing Malaysian terrorist suspect, Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, but led to the death of 44 members of the SAF. The other terrorist suspect, Abdul Basit Usman, however eluded arrest. PND (ag)