Getulio Napeñas - Key Figure In The Mamasapano Massacre
Under his watch, General Getulio Napeñas failed on a mission that resulted in his men getting killed. The mission was to arrest two terrorists. It was a disastrous military operation, leading to the death of 44 troopers and triggering national anger.
Mar 09, 20234 Shares508 Views
If one must talk about retired generals who got embroiled in a controversy that shocked the Filipino people and made global headlines, the name Getulio Napeñaswill come up.
This former general gained national and international attention in 2015 for leading the operation that resulted in the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as Marwan.
The attention could have also been converted into recognition and admiration if not for the death of dozens of specially-trained policemen.
Should Getulio Napeñas be held accountable for the casualties of the said military operation?
Napeñas retires; vows to continue seeking justice for 'Fallen 44'
Getulio Napeñas is a retired Philippine police officer who served as the Director of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2013 to 2015.
He is best known for leading the SAF operation that resulted in the deaths of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.
The incident, which became known as the Mamasapano massacre, was a controversial and highly politicized event in the Philippines.
Napeñas was later relieved of his post as SAF director and faced scrutiny and criticism for his handling of the operation.
In 2015, he ran for a seat in the Philippine Senate as a candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a political coalition composed of several opposition parties.
Former Vice President Jejomar Binay led UNA.
During his campaign, he focused on issues related to public safety and security, highlighting his experience as a law enforcement officer and his leadership of the PNP-SAF during the 2015 Mamasapano clash.
However, Getulio Napeñas was not successful in his bid for a Senate seat. He placed 34th out of 36 candidates in the 2015 Philippine Senate election.
Despite this, he remained active in public life, speaking out on issues related to law enforcement and national security.
Computer-generated visual of the Mamasapano massacre, with the 55th Special Action Company, MILF and BIFF
The Mamasapano massacre, also referred to as the Mamasapano clash, was a violent encounter between Philippine security forces and Muslim rebels in the southern province of Maguindanao.
Mamasapano is a town in Maguindanao, located on the island of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines. It is approximately 60 kilometers north of Cotabato City and 100 kilometers south of Marawi City.
It was one of the deadliest encounters in the history of the Philippine National Police, with 44 dead police officers.
The tragic incident that took place on January 25, 2015 sparked controversy and criticism of the Philippine government’s handling of the operation.
Getulio Napeñas was the Philippine National Police - Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) director when it happened.
PNP-SAF members were sent to Maguindanao on a mission to arrest two high-profile terrorists.
One of them was Zulkifli Abdhir, aka Marwan, a Malaysian terrorist and bomb maker.
He was a senior member of the Southeast Asian extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), making him one of the most wanted terrorists in Southeast Asia.
Marwan was believed to have been involved in numerous attacks in Southeast Asia, including:
the 2002 Bali bombings which killed over 200 people
the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia
He was also suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, a militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden.
SAF troopers reportedly killed him during the Mamasapano clash, but there were some questions about his actual death at the time. The senate made Getulio Napeñas explainthis matter.
Headshots and names and ranks of some of the SAF 44 members in their police uniform and beret
An investigation was conducted by the Board of Inquiry (BOI) appointed by the PNP to look into the incident.
The BOI found that there were lapses in planning and coordination, which resulted in the deaths of the SAF personnel. The BOI also identified individuals who had command responsibility for the operation, with one of them being Getulio Napeñas.
PNP-SAF Police Chief Inspector (PCINSP) Max “Mac-Mac” Jim R. Tria, who served as the group’s commando sniper, was known as “The Last Man Standing” during the Mamasapano Massacre because he was the last one who died.
The lifeless body of Tria, 27, was found holding two hand grenades, reported Munting Nayon. He was laid to rest in Virac, Catanduanes.
The Philippine government formed a fact-finding commission to investigate the Mamasapano Massacre, which produced a report that recommended criminal charges against several government officials, including former President Benigno Aquino III.
In 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman filed charges of graft and usurpation of official functions against Aquino, former PNP Chief Alan Purisima, and former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas.
Aquino was accused of allowing Purisima, who was under suspension at the time, to participate in the operation, and of not informing other officials about the mission.
In 2019, the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court dismissed the charges against Aquino, ruling that he had no criminal liability. The court, however, upheld the charges against Purisima and Napeñas.
Getulio Napeñas is now a retired officer, and the families left behind by those SAF members who got killed continue to call for accountability.