Osmeña: New Mamasapano probe may hurt President
Evidence to be presented by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile when the Senate reopens its investigation of the Mamasapano massacre may ruin the legacy of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd said on Tuesday.
Enrile had said he has evidence to prove that Aquino allowed 44 police commandos to die almost a year ago.
“I think that if Manong [Big Brother] Johnny [Enrile’s nickname] can prove that, it will definitely hurt the President,” Osmeña said.
“Manong Johnny was ominous when he made that statement that he has new evidence. It will hurt PNoy [Aquino],” he added.
The senator said Enrile’s evidence may even lead to the filing of charges against Aquino when he steps down from office in June this year.
“Johnny cares to hurt PNoy. Maybe to put PNoy in the stockade,” Osmeña added.
Enrile, during the Monday session, confirmed that he has evidence to prove that Aquino did nothing to save the lives of the Special Action Force members who were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other private armed groups while carrying out an operation in Mamasapano, Maguindano.
The minority leader took the floor on Monday and said Aquino actively involved himself in planning and preparation for Oplan Exodus, a police operation launched to capture suspected terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.
Enrile said there are witnesses who want to participate in the hearing but he advised them not to.
But Osmena noted that the President need not attend the Senate investigation that will start on January 27 although there is no stopping Aquino from participating in the hearing through a video conference to answer questions that will be asked during the proceedings.
“I think because of the dignity of his [Aquino] office, we don’t want him to be subjected to that,” the senator said.
Enrile refused to disclose the evidence that he is holding, saying the people should wait for the investigation.
The senator was jailed for more than a year for plunder.
He was accused of getting millions of pesos in kickbacks from the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.
Enrile regained his temporary liberty after the Supreme Court allowed him to post bail for humanitarian reasons.
In the dark
The police general who headed the Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) that also investigated the Mamasapano massacre is also clueless on the new evidence being claimed by Enrile.
Director Benjamin Magalong, who was director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when the board was set up, told The Manila Times that he himself is eager to know the nature of Enrile’s revelations.
“I really have no idea on the new evidence,” said the police official, who had since been transferred to another post after submitting his report on the carnage that happened on January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.
Magalong added that if he is invited again to appear before the Senate on January 27, he would have nothing new to say.
“I have nothing new to reveal. I stand by our report,” he said.
The Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos were deployed to get terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman.
Marwan died during the dawn raid while Usman was killed in May.
The Board of Inquiry report indicated that Aquino bypassed the chain of command of the Philippine National Police when he allowed his friend, former PNP chief Alan Purisima, to implement Oplan Exodus.
Purisima was under preventive suspension when the mission was carried out.
The board was activated on February 2, 2015, days after the January 25 carnage.
The report contained more than 300 signed affidavits of SAF members, military officials, witnesses and other civilians who provided information on the firefight.
Meanwhile, in Malacañang, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. belied Enrile’s accusation that the President “did nothing to save the lives of the then-embattled policemen.”
Coloma said in a news briefing that the President said he did what he had to do as Commander-in-Chief.
Enrile maintained that he has evidence to prove that Aquino was “actively and directly” involved in the botched operation under Purisima’s brainchild, Oplan Exodus.
Coloma said government officials will respond to all of Enrile’s queries during the hearing.