A retired police official surfaced on Saturday to say that he has proof of an alleged cover-up of the massacre of dozens of police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, a year ago.
Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso, in a news conference, claimed that he has a recording of two officials talking about an attempt to conceal what really happened during a clash between members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as well as fighters of other armed groups in Mindanao.
The two persons in the recording said the alleged cover-up is needed because the massacre would affect the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Valeroso declined to name the officials in the recording, which he said was taken a day or two after the SAF team carried out the operation to capture international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.
Although the police commandos were able to kill their target, 44 SAF members were mowed down on January 25, 2015.
Valeroso said a copy of the recording was emailed to him on Tuesday.
He added that he will submit a copy to the Senate, which will hold another investigation of the Mamasapano massacre.
The former police official said families of some of the slain policemen had requested copies of the recording but he turned them down, saying the recording is yet to be verified by experts.
The Senate will reopen its investigation of the massacre on January 27. The inquiry will be led by the Senate Committee on Public Order headed by Sen. Grace Poe
Two other panel–the committees on peace and unification and on finance –will conduct the investigation.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who requested the reopening of the probe, earlier said he has evidence to show that President Benigno Aquino 3rd allowed the massacre of the policemen.
Some Palace officials have been invited to the Senate hearing.
Meanwhile, the Palace said on Saturday that the President will lead an awarding ceremony to recognize the 44 police commandos for their acts of heroism during the encounter with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao.
Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon 3rd said Aquino will hand medals to families of the SAF troops during the PNP’s 25th anniversary on Monday.
Quezon added that Aquino approved on Thursday the conferment of posthumous awards on the fallen elite commandos.
“This is the awarding ceremony that will take place, I believe, in Camp Crame. The President authorized the award and among the awards that will be conferred is the Medalya ng Kagitingan or the PNP Medal of Valor,” he said in a radio interview.
The Medal of Valor, the highest award in the country, will be conferred on Chief Inspector Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron.
Tabdi was the head of the SAF 84th company which led the “main effort” in the operation to capture Marwan while Cempron was the lead gunner of the 55th company.
When asked why only two SAF members will receive the Medal of Valor, Quezon said the 42 other slain troopers will receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal as previously recommended by the National Police Commission.
“My understanding is that besides the awarding of the PNP Medal of Valor, which will be [given]to two individuals, there will also be the Medalya ng Kabahayanihan or the PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal, which will be awarded to the SAF 44,” he added.
Aquino has been strongly criticized for his perceived indifference to the plight of the SAF and for allowing then PNP chief Alan Purisima to take part in the operation despite the latter’s suspension at the time.
Aquino’s public approval ratings dipped to their lowest in the aftermath of the clash, with different independent probes pointing out his lapses in planning of the operation.