President Benigno Aquino 3rd does not have to submit an affidavit to the Senate on his knowledge about a bungled operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25, 2015 that left 44 police commandos dead.
“At this point, I don’t see why there would be a reason for the President to submit an affidavit,” Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon 3rd said on Saturday.
Quezon noted that various statements of key officials and players have been taken during investigation of the incident.
“Huwag po nating kalimutan na nagkaroon na ng hearing ang Senado. It was a very extensive hearing. Humarap ang mga miyembro ng ehekutibo, ng PNP [Philippine National Police], ng AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines]. Inilatag nila ang kanilang testimonya at ang mga impormasyon na hiningi ng ating mga mambabatas in aid of legislation [Let’s not forget that the Senate already held an extensive hearing. Members of the executive branch and officials of the PNP and AFP attended these hearings],” he said.
But Quezon admitted that the Palace was clueless on the new evidence that will be presented at the reopening of the Mamasapano probe on January 27.
“So ang hindi pa natin alam at hindi natin malalaman hanggang sa araw ng hearing ay ano ba ang maidadagdag pa ng mga senador o gusto pa nilang malaman at kung mayroon bang ebidensya o batayan ang mga magiging tanong nila [We will not know until the day of hearing what additional information or evidence will surface],” he said.
“At this point, it’s very speculative because all we have are sorts of thoughts being put out by some senators, but up to now I don’t see where there would be any difference at all. We’re very confident because we have put forward the version of events and the facts and the testimony,” Quezon added.
Sen. Grace Poe, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Order, earlier said the President cannot be compelled to appear before the Senate inquiry.
Poe, however, said she is hoping that Aquino would submit an affidavit to the committee.
In the previous Senate probe, the President authorized release of the transcript of his text messages to former PNP chief Alan Purisima on the day of the operation intended to neutralize foreign terror suspects.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government will heed the Senate invitation and respond to pertinent questions about the Mamasapano operation “in the interest of transparency and public accountability.”
Coloma added that the government has always been open and forthright in addressing all concerns about the Mamasapano incident.
Among those invited to the Senate hearing were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang, Purisima, and former PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas.
“The objective of this hearing is to ascertain what really happened during those times. They should be able to voluntarily give any information that they know,” Poe said.