Malacañang–if it really has nothing to hide–should welcome the reopening of the Senate inquiry into the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident that killed more than 60 persons dead, including 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Sunday.
“It is unfortunate that instead of awaiting the outcome of the investigation, Malacanang insinuates bad faith in the reopening of the Mamasapano probe,” Marcos, an independent candidate for Vice President, said in a statement to the media.
The senator was reacting to an earlier comment by President Benigno Aquino 3rd that politics could be behind the reopening of the Mamasapano probe.
“So, if Malacañang really has nothing to hide, it should welcome the reopening of the investigation. I believe majority of the Filipino people sincerely want answers and would be discerning enough to recognize any attempt at grandstanding merely to score political points,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government said.
Marcos is one of many senators who backed the reopening of the Mamasapano inquiry initiated by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile in a privileged speech delivered in October 2015.
Enrile was not able to participate in past Mamasapano hearings because he was in detention when Sen. Grace Poe’s Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted the probe.
Poe, after conducting 10 hearings, came up with a draft committee report signed by 21 senators stating that the President was ultimately responsible for the outcome of the Mamasapano mission.
A crucial piece of information learned by her committee during its investigation was a decision of Aquino to allow then-suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, a close friend of the President, to be in charge of the operation that led to the death of the SAF men.
Poe has set the reopening of the probe for January 25, the first anniversary of the massacre.
But Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano has called on his colleagues who are running for higher position in this year’s polls, to follow his example and inhibit themselves from the inquiry.
Cayetano said while the reopening of the probe is necessary, senators who are also candidates in the May 2016 elections should stay away from the proceedings to ensure that the investigation remains impartial and free from partisan politics.
He particularly mentioned Poe—a presidential candidate—who will be presiding over the probe.
Poe already gave assurances that she will not allow hearings to be used for politicking and grandstanding.
As for concerns that she might use the hearings to put in a bad light former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd—also a candidate for President—she said she has no intention of grilling Roxas during the hearings and that she will only serve as a moderator during the inquiry.
In response to claims that the reopening of the probe is politically motivated, Poe stressed that she was not the one who asked for the reopening of the investigation.
In fact, she said, she is already satisfied with the findings of her committee contained in the 120-page draft report that was signed by 21 senators.
Roxas, DILG chief at the time, was with the President in Zamboanga on January 25, 2015.
As Interior chief, he could have brought information he received to Aquino’s attention much earlier so that coordination between the military and police could have been hastened, but he did not.
Aside from Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang and PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina was also with the President.
Marcos said he wants to find out why almost a year after the incident, no criminal charges in court have been filed against those responsible, despite the government’s promise that justice will be served.
“The families of the policemen slain in the Mamasapano massacre do not ask for anything from the government except for justice,” he added.
Marcos wants former Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to be invited by the Poe committee to the hearings in order for her to explain the delay in the filing of criminal charges against those who participated in the killing.