Aquino: US role in ’Oplan Exodus’ limited to equipment
Former President Benigno Aquino III has denied speaking to any American about the January 2015 covert police operation known as “Oplan Exodus” but admitted the United States has been assisting the country in certain operations.
In a three-page statement issued Thursday, Aquino said he was only in touch with Filipinos for the police operation, which was hatched to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his aide, Abdul Basit Usman.
“Wala po akong Amerikanong nakausap ukol sa operasyon bago ito maisagawa at habang ito’y isinasagawa sa Mamasapano. Sa pagkakaunawa ko po, tumulong ang Estados Unidos doon sa equipment at hardware na pinanggalingan ng intelligence,” he said.
While the US has been helping the Philippines in certain operations even before his term, Aquino said he only talked to Filipinos regarding “Oplan Exodus.”
“Ang sa akin, Pilipino ang mga kausap ko. Pilipino ang nagbibigay-ulat sa akin, at Pilipino ang nagsagawa ng misyon. Ultimong asset na nakalapit kina Marwan, asset ng ating gobyerno,” he said.
Aquino issued the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte slammed him for his failure to acknowledge his own shortcomings in the mission, which led to the bloody Mamasapano clash.
Over 60 people, including 44 Special Action Force troopers, died in the gunfight that ensued while “Oplan Exodus” was being carried out.
In his speech before the families of slain SAF troopers last Jan. 24, Duterte asked Aquino why he and other officials were mum about the alleged involvement of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the operation.
“Let it be brought to the open. It was an American adventure with the cooperation of some and apparently with your blessing,” he said, addressing Aquino.
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