Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Thursday that President Benigno Aquino III and the three other officials who met  in Malacanang before the Mamasapano operation should assume responsibility for the death of the 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).

The three other officials who knew the anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao are resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, relieved PNP-SAF Director Getulio Napeñas and Intelligence Group Director Fernando Mendez.

They were also present during the meeting in Malacañang on January  9 for ‘mission update” on the operation together with Aquino.

“The defense being raised is that the operation has been kept secret except among three people: President Aquino, General Purisima, and General Napeñas. It’s impossible to pinpoint who among the three of them is responsible,” Santiago said.

“We can segregate them from the rest of the people involved because of the admissions made during the hearing that they had consultations that were just the three of them, including Mendez. So, by their own admission—this is an admission against interest and constitutes very strong evidence—there were only four people there,” she added.

Santiago also stated that the operation was all part of the discharge by Aquino as commander-in-chief of the Philippine Armed Forces.

“So, in effect, all four must assume responsibility for the failure—in fact not only failure, but the massacre that took place. I am naming President Aquino because I don’t think it serves public interest to fudge the issue—to never mention his name, like he was some sacred cow. I don’t think he needs my protection. He can stand for himself,” the senator said.

Santiago however said that she will not support any move against the president.

“I am against the removal of President Aquino in any means except those that are legal. As president, he can only be impeached. Thereafter, he can of course be sued. Therefore, my criticism should be taken as a surgical operation to determine what should not be done again,” she explained.