Pascua Pascual Napeñas is the man at the centre of the Mamasapano Encounter that resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force men of the Philippine National Police. The Police Chief Superintendent was the Commander of the SAF during the ill-fated Mamasapano Encounter and he was immediately suspended after the operation. And as of yesterday after President Benigno Aquino and Resigned Chief PNP Police Director General Alan La Madrid Purisima’s statement he has effectively become the immediate bearer of the Mamasapano Tragedy. What will he say and not say before the Filipinos when the eight investigative bodies start the work? Will Napeñas fall figuratively on his sword? Will he tell the unvarnished and embellished truth about what happened on that fateful day? What will he do?
What is known about Getulio Pascua Napeñas ? He became Commander of the SAF December 11, 2013. Who was he before he became the SAF Commander?
Napeñas belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Sandigan Class of 1982. He was one of the officers who was part of the initial batch of officers of the PC SAF, which became the SAF, when it was created May 16, 1983. He was the commander of the Philippine Police Contingent to Kosovo and he was also one of top of his class and training in special action force. Napeñas also served as Chief Directorial Staff and Deputy Director of SAF before he became the Regional Director of Police Regional; Office CARAGA, where he earned praise for his work. He was respected and had a reputation for aggressive and specialised in special force operations.
It must be crushing for Napeñas now. Clearly the man is a career officer and a man of honour who had worked hard to rise in the organisation. He is respected and considered skilled in his job. And now because of Mamapasano he has become the defacto scapegoat to the disaster.
The question is did he commit a mistake? Clearly a mistake was done no doubt about it, but did he commit it or did he carried it out? Did the assumptions about Mamampasano proved to be flawed? Why commit ground forces into s hostile area without air or artillery support? Why did he ignore the chain of command? A career officer who ignored the chain of command. Was the chain of command bypassed and re-routed? Did he carry out an order that was clearly a mistake?
As the Commander he does bear responsibility for this. But the responsibility goes beyond him. Purisima, despite the spin, resigned because of it. President Benigno C. Aquino III has slowly, begrudgingly and meekly owed up to it and ultimately this would be one of the legacy of his Presidency that will not be forgotten, whether he likes it or not. Like past Presidents before him he will be remembered for this: Aguinaldo had the deaths of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna; Quirino had his Golden Arinola; Marcos had Jabidah, Martial Law and the Ninoy Aquino Assasination; and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had her I am sorry moment. Aquino will have the Fallen 44 around his neck till his dying days.
What will this highly respected and skilled Commander do now? What will this man of honour do now? What will Getulio Pascua Napeñas do now?