SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. admitted on Tuesday that government failed to give justice to police commandos mowed down by Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last year.
In a privileged speech, Marcos called on concerned agencies to make up for lost time and end the quest for justice of the families of the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) slain during an operation to capture terrorists.
“As a member of government and Congress, it fills me with shame that in all these months that have passed, despite the grand pronouncements of immediate action and investigation, our government has not moved forward in meeting this appeal for justice,”
said Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government.
He noted that even President Benigno Aquino 3rd acknowledged the delay and expressed dismay on the slow investigation of the case.
“What the nation feels is beyond dismay, beyond impatience, beyond just sadness but a loss of part of our humanity as Filipinos. We feel this when we see that we have failed our very own sons, husbands and fathers, our very own declared heroes,” Marcos said.
“We must move now and move quickly to bring them justice. It is nothing less than a defining moment for us as a nation,” he noted.
The senator confirmed existence of a taped conversation between him and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles that happened several days after the Mamasapano tragedy but he denied giving authority to anyone to record that meeting.
Marcos said the existence of the recorded conversation was brought to his attention by a friend.
But the senator maintained that he has no idea where the recording came from.
“There were like 50 people inside my office, so I don’t know who recorded our conversation,” he told reporters.
Marcos said Deles visited him in his office to discuss the Mamasapano incident, particularly the involvement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the encounter.
“Essentially, what happened was they were saying that even if the massacre happened, the deliberation on the BBL must continue,” he added, referring to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
But the senator told Deles that he will not allow deliberations on the BBL to continue as if Mamasapano did not happen and he even raised the need to have the incident investigated thoroughly.
Retired police Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso earlier said he had obtained a copy of the recorded conversation between a government official and a lawmaker and he will submit this to the Senate when it reopens its investigation of the massacre.
Marcos, howeve, did not say if Valeroso’s recording is the same taped conversation he had with Deles.
Senate President Franklin Drilon mentioned the taped conversation during an interview on Monday but he noted that it is not new because the media already reported it last year.
The Manila Times on February 12, 2015 published an article entitled “Deles clears MILF,” which is based on a conversation between the senator and the peace adviser.
In that conversation, Deles reportedly tried but failed to convince Marcos that the MILF should not be faulted for the death of the 44 SAF men.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs headed by Sen. Grace Poe will start its inquiry into the Mamasapano incident today, January 27, but it is not clear if the committee will allow the taped conversation to be played during the proceedings.