CLAIMING that truth behind the tragic January 25 Mamasapano incident is yet to be uncovered, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has asked the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to reopen its investigation in order for the Senate to be guided accordingly.
In a letter addressed to Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the committee, Cayetano on Friday said further investigation must be conducted by the committee amid seemingly conflicting findings of various investigative bodies that probed the case.
He cited the Ombudsman’s recent approval of a recommendation to conduct preliminary investigation proceedings and administrative adjudication against dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and Dir. Gen. Alan Purisima, sacked Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas Jr. and other junior officers and some survivors of the incident.
The senator said the decision of the Ombudsman to include the junior officers and survivors could have a chilling effect on the entire police chain of command.
“I was sadden and dismayed over the decision to charge the junior SAF officers when not a single MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] member who took part in the massacre of 44 SAF men has not been charged,” Cayetano noted in his letter.
He said the junior officers simply followed orders to capture a high-value terrorist–Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan–because they would face charges of insubordination if they refused.
“This must not be allowed to happen, for not only does it compromise the situation of our police personnel, it also affects their ability to fulfill their roles to maintain peace and order throughout the country,” Cayetano explained.
While admitting that there are varying liabilities in the operation that claimed the lives of 44 SAF men, he said the Ombudsman’s decision demoralizes both police and military officials in the front lines who were merely obeying legitimate orders from their superiors.
The Senate, according to him, must once and for all reveal the entire truth behind this massacre, saying finding justice for the deaths of the 44 elite policemen should be a prerequisite for conducting peace talks with armed rebels and securing the safety of the entire Mindanao region.
The Poe committee had released its report on the incident but it is yet to be presented in plenary.
Meanwhile, Poe, in response to Cayetano’s request, said she would look into the possibility of calling for a caucus that is traditionally held by the Senate days after the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino 3rd on July 27.
She explained that while she prefers the committee report on the Mamasapano be discussed first in plenary for deliberations to determine if there really is a need for further public hearings, a caucus would be a good alternative.
“It [caucus]could be another way to get the consensus of the Senate as a whole on the matter,” Poe said.