MALACAÑANG on Thursday said its officials will not skip the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano massacre on January 27 and that all questions that will be thrown at them will be answered to the best of their knowledge.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not bar any of his present and former subordinates from attending the probe that was requested by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile citing “new evidence” that will link the President to the incident.
“The government will heed the invitation of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs and reply to all pertinent questions that may be asked at the hearing in the interest of transparency and public accountability,” Coloma said.
Independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, will steer the conduct of the hearing as she previously did.
Poe’s office has invited 24 resource persons, including Coloma and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
“Government is prepared to participate in the hearing. I am not privy to the full list of government officials who were invited by the committee. Therefore, I have not had the opportunity to inquire from the invitees themselves. Let me emphasize that government has always been open and forthright in addressing all concerns pertaining to the Mamasapano incident,” Coloma said.
Also invited were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin; former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd; former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang; former Philippine National Police Chief Director General Alan Purisima; former PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina; PNP Chief Director General Ricardo Marquez; Chief Supt. Fernando Mendez of the Intelligence Group; Board of Inquiry Chairman Director Benjamin Magalong; former Special Action Force Director Getulio Napenas; and former SAF Deputy Director Noli Talino.
Several active and retired military and police officials complete the list of invitees.
Magalong told The Manila Times that in contrast to Enrile’s claims, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) was unable to get direct testimonies or evidence that would point to Aquino as among those who should be blamed for the death of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
“Honestly, it was not included in our findings and conclusion due to absence of any testimony and evidence,’ Magalong, who chaired the BOI, said.