Enrile questions US participation in ‘Oplan Exodus’
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile questioned on Wednesday the involvement of the United States government in the law enforcement operations of the Philippine National Police—particularly the Special Action Force (SAF)—when it is not covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“This is something the government must explain—why allow a police matter to include US participation. I’m not saying I’m correct but this has to be looked at,” Enrile said while grilling former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas at the ongoing Senate probe on the bloody Mamasapano clash.
“The VFA, to my recollection, deals with military only. It doesn’t cover police operations which are actually enforcing criminal laws handled by a police organization and these criminal laws are territorial except for a few exceptions,” he said.
Prior to this statement, Enrile asked Napeñas to elaborate the extent of the US involvement in “Oplan Exodus,” the SAF-led operation against international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir or “Marwan” on January 25 last year. The raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos.
Napeñas said through the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) based in Zamboanga City, the US government helped SAF in terms of “real-time intelligence support, training, equipment, humanitarian support through medical evacuation and investigation.”
“The investigation, I’m referring to the finger of Marwan given to them to match his DNA with (that of) his brother,” Napeñas added.
After killing Marwan in his hut in Barangay (village) Tukanalipao, members of the 84th Special Action Company or Seaborne gave his finger to a Federal Bureau of Investigation representative for DNA analysis.
Enrile then asked if the civilian members of the JSOTF-P came from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Napeñas said: “The intelligence (personnel) provided real-time (monitoring), they should be working in that outfit (CIA).”
Napeñas added: “But the word “CIA” was not mentioned in our meetings.”
“SAF is a unique unit of the PNP conducting counterterrorism operations. That’s why they (US) are dealing with us,” said Napeñas.
When asked by Enrile if US assistance to SAF is covered by the VFA or “some arrangement” of the US government with Philippines, the senatorial aspirant said: “Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not aware, your honor.” JLDJ/IDL
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