WE laud Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile for calling for the opening of plenary debates on the tri-committee report on the Senate’s Mamasapano inquiry. This is something Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares did not bother to do, disappointing everyone except the people in Malacañang who want to squash any further public discussion on the matter. Why, we would like to know, did Ms. Poe suddenly zipped her lips after she announced her finding sometime during the inquiry that President Aquino must be held accountable for the massacre?
As if to help and please BS Aquino, she turned over the report to the Ombudsman, who expectedly wants its work on the massacre to be kept quiet and not lead to anything unpleasant for Mr. Aquino.
The debates about the findings of the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano massacre on January 25 are imperative because Senator Poe failed to do the correct and proper thing–she never sponsored her report on the Senate floor or open it to questioning and debate. She did not even bother to get the senators to sign the report.
Reopening the inquiry is wrong
Debates on the committee report is a thousand times better than the reopening of the inquiry, which Senators Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero have jointly and wrongly proposed.
Debates will advance the national interest by securing an authoritative and factual account of what took place on that tragic day in January, and why the government and the military failed to provide support and rescue operations for the beleaguered SAF commandos.
Reopening the inquiry will only be turned into a tool for publicity seeking by senators who are keen to ride on it to promote their political plans in 2016. It will waste time and money.
Since Senators Poe and Escudero worked like a wrestling tag team in the conduct of the Senate inquiry, they are the principals who should explain in the plenary debates why the tri-committee did not submit a final full report to the Senate, and why the report has not been acted on.
Senator Enrile speaks for the people when he says that nothing should be swept under the rug, and everything must be openly debated with respect to the Mamasapano Massacre inqury report.
Here at the Times, we long ago concluded that the Senate inquiry became a travesty when Senator Poe failed to submit a full report to the plenary, and when she contented herself with releasing to the public an executive summary of the report.
We have read both the committee report and the executive summary submitted by Senator Poe. We were troubled by the lack of rigor and conclusiveness in the final report, and by the many questions that it opened up and left unanswered. Specifically, we found it extremely disturbing that while the tri-committee declared that President Benigno Aquino 3rd was “ultimately responsible” for everything that happened in Mamasapano, it never moved to summon him to testify in person perhaps in an executive session or at least answer some questions in writing.
The tri-committee relied instead on Aquino’s public statements, which were evasive and self-serving. His failure to disclose his role in the failed operation left a huge hole in the inquiry and clouded its conclusions. No declaration that the President was ultimately responsible can extenuate this serious shortcoming of the Senate inquiry.
We also want to know why the Senate finance committee took such a prominent part in the inquiry into Mamasapano, since the matter under investigation had nothing to do with the appropriation or expenditure of public funds.
Was the Poe-Escudero tandem formed during the Senate inquiry, or before it happened?
We should get an answer why no rescue operation by the military was ordered on the day of the incident, when all the top military and police officials and the President were in Mindanao at the time.
We hope that in the coming debates these gaps and unanswered questions about Mamasapano will be answered.
We believe Senator Poe herself should welcome the opportunity to complete the task that she left unfinished. She can redeem herself and assure the Senate leadership that it did not err in reposing in her inexperienced hands the conduct of that important inquiry.
The families of the slain SAF commandos, who have been waiting for so long for justice to be rendered to their loved ones, will welcome this effort by the Senate to bring closure to its inquiry.