House inquiry worth the cost and the wait


After bravely and patiently watching for two days the second and third hearings of the House inquiry into the Mamasapano incident, I will say that the recent hearings are worth all the cost (probably millions because it features scores of congressmen and resource persons) and all the waiting (the inquiry was hurriedly aborted after just one chaotic hearing last February).

My prayer that the House inquiry could serve as the nation’s best hope for clarity and closure on this national tragedy appears to have been answered.

The hearings, this second time around, were orderly, focused, and expertly steered. Bickering and grandstanding were reduced to a minimum. The questioning was crisp and incisive; the witnesses responded forthrightly, and no one wiggled away with half-truths and evasions.

Most significant, the most sensitive points for inquiry were squarely addressed. The country’s representatives did not mince words or slink away from the challenge. The House spread its net in a way designed to catch many fishes – even if the biggest fish of all (Aquino 3rd) was gifted with a pardon by his loyal subject, Speaker Belmonte. (In America, in stark contrast, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush submitted themselves to questioning by the US Congress.)

I shall get to the most significant disclosures shortly, point by point. I will desist from making a glib comparison of the Senate and House inquiries, pending the completion and submission of the House report.

For now, taking into account the earnest efforts and merits of the two inquiries, I will simply say this: There is no upper and lower house in our Congress. The old and conventional disparagement of the House as the junior chamber no longer holds true. The traditional seniority of the Senate has been tarnished by scandal. They have both been smeared by the addiction of their members to pork and Malacañang bribery.

What we have is truly a bicameral legislature, much like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces and a split personality.

Tough and thorough oversight    
To the credit of the House, the hearings dispelled for me the belief of many that congressional oversight from the House of Representatives would not be as tough and through as that exercised by the Senate.

This is evident in the questions and revealing disclosures during the hearings. My list below covers only a part of the ground covered.

Question: Why did the AFP fail to provide timely and effective response to the request of the Special Action Force (SAF) for rescue and assistance? Who stopped the Philippine Army mechanized brigade from delivering artillery fire to help prevent SAF casualties?

From repeated questioning on this, the finger of suspicion narrowed down to Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Mindanao, as the one who held back army troops from unleashing artillery fire to save the beleaguered SAF units. He kept invoking the excuse that there was not enough information about the position of SAF units, which was adequately answered early in the morning of January 25.

SAF director, Gen. Getulio Napeñas testified that he and his troops were left up in the air by their superiors – in effect that many of the SAF commandos were sacrificed in Mamasapano.

To this, AFP chief of staff Gen. Gil Catapang responded angrily that trust between the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) is high, but it is only Napeñas who distrusts the military.

Iqbal, man of many names
Question: Is MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal a Filipino? How many passports does he have? What is his real name?

Answer: “Mohagher Iqbal” is a nom de guerre, a common practice of leaders in a revolutionary organization. In fact, he has other aliases.

Under questioning, Iqbal declared his citizenship is Filipino; but his identity is Bangsamoro.

He has a Filipino passport. And he has only one passport.

He declined to reveal his true or real name, but he said his real name is known to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Is a formal document signed with an alias binding? Secretary De Lima ran away from this question.

Aquino: above and beyond command chain
Question: Is President Aquino subject to the chain of command of the PNP and the AFP? Is he subject to the penalties for violating the chain?

Answer (from Secretary De Lima): President Aquino is above and beyond the chain of command of the military and the police. The PNP is just another civilian agency of the government.

Question: What did Aquino mean when he took full responsibility for what happened in Mamasapano?

Answer (from De Lima): Aquino meant that he owns responsibility and accountability for what happened.

So responsibility and accountability are the same thing.

Question: How is justice for the slain commandos to be rendered. What has the government uncovered that can enable the nation to reach closure on Mamasapano and hence start the process of healing and rebuilding?

Answer: The Department of Justice is in the process of completing its investigation of the incident, through its special investigation team, which includes the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). De Lima said the DOJ report will be released on April 16.

De Lima also disclosed that the DOJ has in custody a confidential witness who saw what happened in Mamasapano.

She assured the families of the victims and the public that charges will be filed in due course against all those who were responsible for the killings. The same goes for those who may be guilty of administrative offenses.

SAF dead, when Aquino acted
Question, throughout the 25th of January, when the incident was unfolding and the situation was life or death for the SAF commandos, did President Aquino issue any instruction to the military and police commanders for their rescue?

Answer (from General Guerrero): His only instruction was: “No friendly fire,” in order to avoid government troops and police from firing at each other. That was the sum of Aquino’s intervention in the tragedy that was unfolding.

By the time Aquino issued his cryptic instruction, many of the commandos were already slain.

One curious indicator of how seriously everyone treated the two House inquiries, was the premium value that the interrogators and the witnesses attached to the time allotted them. Many asked for more time — even just seconds – to make or complete their points. Oftentimes, some representatives lent their time for questioning, like it was pasa load in wireless phones.


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  1. mahiwagang utos ni pnoy “no friendly fire” – para bagang ang iyong pamilya ay hostage at pinagbabaril na at ang utos ng ama..huwag magpapaputok baka magkatamaan kayo mga pulis at sundalo sa paligid…@#$%(((!

  2. Vicente Penetrante on

    Yes, it is very refreshing to hear the army officers who participated in the rescue of the SAFs and the SAF ground commanders, especially Mangahas telling Del Rosario to “Man up, Sir!”
    It has been boring that the group with the President in Zamboanga on Jan. 25 – from Roxas and Gazmin to the full of medals military and police officers – were all covering up for the President with their demeanor and answers in the Senate and House probes.
    “Man up, Sir!” should be told to Roxas. He answers too much in defending the President. He should stand up taller to replace his beloved President.

  3. As far as appearance of Pres Aquino in the investigation, nag tulotulong ang mga Liberal party para supilin ang kahilingan ng Makabayan Block. Kahit na it was already downgraded to sending him set of questions to answer. Para sa akin walang matibay na kredibilidad ang imbistigasyong ito. Dapat mag appear si Pres Aquino. Sa bi nila malaking kaabalahan sa kanya bilang presidente. Pero para sakin Ito ay malaking service para sa taong bayan at sa bansa. Ang magkaroon ng kalinawan ang bawat issue tungkol sa kanyang partisipasyon. Yong mga Liberal naglilingkod lam ang yan sa kanilang partido. Sabi nila coequal branch daw ang Executive, Legislative at Judiciary na hindi kailangan mag appear si Presidente. Eh bakit si Chief Justice Corona pinolbus sa Senado? Eh ang number one subject of investigation dito ay ang Presidente. Ano ba yan?

  4. Gen Pangilinan invoking that there is not enough information. So Gen. Pangilinan is waiting for more information to come while he is enjoying the comfort in his airconditoned office. Kung kulang pa ng info, did he moved his butt to gather info na siya ang nakakaalam kong ANONG klasing info yan? Sa mga pangyayari, sorry to say na he lost his nerve. Nerve of urgency. Wala man Lang pressure sa kanya. Hindi nag sink in sa kanyang body system na it envolve lives of SAF commandos. Para sa akin this is the highest incompetency! RESIGN! Pero alam natin na hinobug sila ng ilang taon sa military training para maging makapal at magkaroon ng pusong bato!

  5. Lumabas at napaka linaw na si Aquino ang may kasalanan lahat at ang mga general na kasama nya sa Zamboanga on that fateful hours and day, pati na rin si Roxas at Gasmin dahil pinabayaan nilang mapatay ang SAP 44, Ilan oras ang naganap na bakbakan wala silang ginawa kundi mag titigan!

  6. Yes PNP is a civilian agency. But what about the nature of its FUNCTION in the community? They have guns, ammunitions and authority to control peace and order. Are they not subject to Chain of Command? What Justice De Lima is trying point out is that PNP is civilian in nature. Yes as far as organizational structure is concerned it is a civilian agency. In my own opinion, PNP is subject to the chain of command. Somebody is giving orders and somebody will execute orders. There is a commanding officer. If there is a commanding officer then there are higher officers among themselves. Among the chief of staffs there is the commander in chief. Who is the commander in chief then? As it pertains to Mamasapano incident, obviously there is a highest command. If there is highest command there is chain of command. Where is Pres Aquino then?

  7. Mamasapano and the massacre of the fourty four SAF troopers had revealed the most hideous state that the country is in – the Philippines is a weakened state.

    The three branches of government do not promote laws to govern a sovereign nation, each of the branch of government service does not exercise its mandate of being independent and takes command from one branch – resulting in a weakened political institution and causing instability.

    The last line of defense, the military and police force, had made themselves vassals of politicians, in return for a promised promotion in rank and privileges, their use of force are against the civilian population whom they have sworn to protect and serve, both of these armed forces are now pitted against each other by their political patrons – resulting in chaos in the chain-of-command and demoralization of the rank and file.

    Philippines is now in the crux of fate, as to whether there are still patriots among those who serve in the government and armed forces, to rise above their selfish interest and consider the precariousness of the situation for which the country is now standing on, if this goes unpunished and continue to cause to weaken our country – the future of the whole population would be bleak and blighted.

  8. Lost Command an SAF Commandos! May tuyo ang utak and Commander-in-Chief, di ba?

  9. apdelacalzada on

    If there is no chain of command in the PNP what is the purpose of giving ranks to the officers of the PNP. And why is it they will they give order to their subordunates not request.

    • The reasoning being peddled by DOJ sec de lima is bereft of intelligent mental thinking that is simply unacceptable and plain “rubbish” as the British calls it.

  10. CS Catapang has all the options to help if he wants to. He can always intruct the PAF to have their assets fly and respond to the situation. From the time the call of reinforcement was asked until the estimated death of the SAF troopers is more than 6 hours. So even if the PAF Fighter planes will come from villamor or basses in Luzon, it will definitely reached Mamasapano in 3 hours which is quite long already and the pilots can radio back exact coordinates of various combatants. An example of the usage of Air Assets is when the Cory Aquino’s government is under threat of losing from the RAM led coup and US came to the rescue by having 2 fighter planes fly by metro manila and the coup dessipated.
    CS Catapang is with Pinoy in Zamboanga on that fateful hours and day. It is very doubtful that these high personalities of the country’s security cluster did not have briefing regarding the call of reinforcement that fateful morning. Instructions and orders were definitely given by the President to these officials, but when these orders caused high fatalities on the government troopers, these high officials now are now covering its other mistakes.
    The fact is reinforcement was asked and received by these high officials in the early morning and until the later part of the day no help came from the AFP.

  11. This Mamasapano hearing in congress should be stopped. It looks like this hearing is designed to drive a wedge between the PNP and the AFP. As a citizen I am calling on the PNP and the AFP not to allow anybody to divide you. Stick to your duty to protect our country’s constitution and it’s citizens.

    It was clear that the SAF was not reinforced. At the very least the AFP could have fired blank artillery rounds earlier and not at 6pm. The AFP’s hesitation was understandable because somebody up there made a cloudy decision because his advisers were all pro BBL ( mga ATAT sa BBL for what reason only them know). Do not blame the AFP, do not blame the PNP SAF. Do not even blame our President. He is just a man (from the song “I don’t know how to love him”) and with all those people whispering advises on him he got very confused. He is our President. We elected him. We should support him in this crucial time. By supporting him it does not mean that we should just accept the BBL blindly. We should support him by not giving in to instigators to sow troubles in our country. Let him be our President until 2016. MILF and the BIFF are the ones to blame.

    Mr. President I repeat my call, please fast tract the strengthening of our AFP and PNP. Fire those who are involved in the purchase of helicopters from Rice. If we could not purchase arms from other countries due to restrictions let us manufacture ourselves, we have the capability to do that, and export the excess just what Iran did.

  12. Cres Malifier on

    Medyo mababaw pala ang kaligayahan ninyo, Sir Makabenta. Tumulong pa rin sa cover up and mga proAquino congressmen, sir.

  13. It was revealed during the two hearings that the real hero was Gen Napenas and the villains are generals Pangilinan, Guerrero and Catapang with the most evil behind their back who probably issued a secret order to stand down to give way for ceasefire mechanisms is our inutile and incompetent President Aquino. Let’s junk the BBL and allow the next President for a more fair peace negotiation or the most practical solution would be to improve the existing ARMM and concentrate on giving more social services to the poor areas where the rebels are holding their camps and at the same time conduct all out campaign to wipe out all outlaw elements.

    • At bakit naman kailangan antayin pa ang susunod na pangulo? Ano naman ang kasiguruhan na ipagpapatuloy ng susunod na pangulo yang BABALA? Ang solusyon sa lahat ng yan ay trabaho at mayroon trabaho pag may itinatayong negosyo, planta o imprastraktura sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Mindanao. What will be the incentive to put up all of these? Make the entire ARMM area a Free Trade Zone. We have already all the assets ready to fund all of these beginning the middle of this year – not only in Mindanao but the entire country. Wag ka na lang mainip, hijo.

  14. Iqbal says he is Filipino. This is what he says now.
    Iqbal says he only has one passport. This is what he says now.
    And 3 weeks ago, Iqbal commented : baka na photoShop.
    Three weeks, anyone who asked Deles will her hear answer. That Iqbal is Iqbal is Iqbal. Three months ago and 2 weeks ago, Deles always said the MILF and Iqbal in particular should be trusted. They always tell the truth. April 9 2015 — does Deles still trust Iqbal?

    • Maxtar Tudtud on

      Yes ,deles is so brainwashed that she will always trust iqbal. Me, i do not trust deles, i think she is a traitor to the Philippines.

    • if the congressmen are really interested to find out what passport and the real name of iqbal and murad are, they could ask the dfa and also request the japanese gov’t to provide congress of the copy of iqbal’s and murad’s entry documents to japan when they met boy sisi and his cabal at a hotel near the airport. am sure they can give congress the info should the gov’t asks for it. kaya lang hindi yata interesado ang mga congressmen at senado e. moro moro lang kasi itong palabas na telenovelang ito.

  15. The item about Iqbal being a fake-identity raises other questions. Where else has he been, and when? Congress-PHilippines should find all of Iqbal’s writings (also of Murad’s writings) in their other nom-de-querres. Do they espouse super-violence against gobyerno-Pilipinas in these other writings? And hasn’t Murad also worked with Osama Bin Laden? Now what about Iqbal and Jaffar. Who are they working for now?
    —- BaBALA may truly be a babala for worse wars in the next years.

  16. No friendly fire! Napakalinaw ng utos! Ang signal na tanda ng pag-abandona sa SAF 44 !! Sino ba ang kaibigan ni Aquino, di ba ang MILF?
    Alam ng mga general kung ano ang tunay na ibig sabihin nito!
    Dapat talagang ang sisihin ay ang mga general at si Aquino!
    Wag na nilang paikot-ikotin pa!
    Binaliwala nila ang US, ngayon sila ang nakakaalam ng sitwasyon kung ano ang nangyayari!
    Sa sobrang takot o pagsisipsip pikit mata nilang mga general na sinunod ang utos ni Aquino!
    Hindi karapadapat ang ganitong pinuno!