A DRAFT copy of the final review of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee’ (IIRC) recommendations in connection to the hostage crisis showed Palace absolving Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno and retired police chief Jesus Verzosa from any charge.

A television report said the Palace legal team composed of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa found Puno not responsible for the outcome of the hostage drama.

The August 23 Manila hostage crisis ended in a bloodbath where eight tourists from Hong Kong and hostage-taker dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza were killed.

The legal team said Puno was not the immediate supervisor of Manila Police District Chief Rodolfo Magtibay and has no legal obligation to ensure President Benigno Aquino III’s orders were followed.

Aquino during the hostage fiasco had ordered to use the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) for the assault, but it was not followed and Magtibay instead use the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team.

The legal team also recommended to spare Verzosa from any administrative or criminal charges, saying he was not part of the local crisis committee.

It did not recommend any charges against Magtibay’s immediate superior National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Leocadio Santiago while hostage negotiator Police Superintendent Orlando Yebra is being asked to explain why he should not be charged.

Meanwhile, charges of simple neglect of duty against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim were recommended for failing to activate the entire crisis management operation center.

Similar charges were also recommended against Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno for abandoning the crisis management operation center before the hostage crisis was resolved.

Magtibay is also recommended to be charged with gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty.

Charges of gross incompetence are also being recommended against Swat commander Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual.

President Aquino, for his part, did not confirm the content of the review, saying the final report will only be made public Monday. (Sunnex)