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January 31, 2016

At Disqus I offered my view on how the breach in the chain of command contributed to the disaster in the Mamasapano.  (with a few changes and corrections)

Because Purisima was suspended, he could not legitimately, let alone effectively, exercise the power and authority of a PNP chief. He had to do it unofficially and surreptitiously, even perhaps reluctantly. In fact, he was in far away Nueva Ecija all that time! The chain from the commander in chief to the PNP chief therefore was essentially broken. Napeñas was practically reporting to no one and had no one effectively supervising and guiding him as it should be because Purisima had no official role, a nonentity as far as the official chain of command was concerned. Espina, then acting PNP chief, should be the one filling the part which included coordinating the entire affair with his counterpart in the AFP, AFP Chief Catapang.  But because Espina was out of the loop and knew nothing about the operation, he could not do so quickly, decisively and authoritatively. So Napeñas was all on his own calling on officials of the AFP who were outside his own organization, and moreover higher in rank. That is not the protocol. He should be calling his boss, in this case, Espina, and Espina would be the one calling the AFP Chief. ( As it was, Napenas was calling and reporting to Purisima instead) Then it would be the AFP Chief barking the orders to the field commanders. (Even then, the AFP Chief would have first to clear the matter with the President because Espina is not his superior.) There was of course some reluctance of AFP personnel to act based on calls from Napeñas because Napeñas is from PNP and they were trained to receive guidance and orders from their commanders WITHIN the AFP.  Sadly nothing of clarity was forthcoming because the chain of command was broken at the very top.

It could be added that the animosity and rivalry of the two organizations had actually worsened the situation.  This issue surfaced flagrantly once more in the last Senate hearing.

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