The Senate must do the job right

27

Perhaps, it was for this that Providence, and the Supreme Court, plucked Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile from premature retirement and life-threatening confinement, and returned him to the Philippine Senate. We needed him for one last act (???) of service to the nation.

Of all the republic’s senators, JPE alone has the necessary gravitas and knowhow to persuade the chamber to re-open its unfinished and inconclusive inquiry into the Mamasapano incident or massacre that brutally took the lives of 44 SAF (Special Action Force) elite commandos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on January 25, 2015.

JPE had the courage to demand on the Senate floor why no committee report was submitted to the Senate plenary for debate and approval. He contended that there were many questions that were not asked and were unanswered in the earlier inquiry early last year. He contended that unless these questions were satisfactorily answered, the Mamasapano massacre would not find closure, and the SAF 44 and their surviving families would not get the justice they are desperately seeking from the government.

In short order, thanks to his tenacity, Enrile secured a consensus among his Senate colleagues for the reopening of the Mamasapano hearings. And they fixed the date for the inquiry on January 25, 2016, the first anniversary of the tragedy.


This stunning development has met skepticism and cynicism on many fronts and from many groups. But as the hour of the new inquiry, nears, Monday, January 25, support from the public for reopening the inquiry has been overwhelming. The people, no less than the senators, want to know what really happened in Mamasapano.

Presidential inhibition is the real problem
Certain parties, notably Malacañang, have floated the charge that the new inquiry is politically motivated. They have demanded that senators running for office in May should recuse or inhibit themselves from participating in the hearings. It has predictably fallen on deaf ears. When the inquiry is gaveled to order on January 25, all the nation’s senators, except for the sick and disabled, will be there.

One veteran Senate hand describes the situation to me this way: “In all the demands and counter-demands for inhibition in the projected reopening of the Senate inquiry, there is one thing that should be recognized at the outset: It was President BS Aquino’s inhibition in revealing all that he knows and what he did not do on January 25, 2015 that has kept the whole story from being told and prevented closure of the tragedy.

That policy of presidential inhibition and non-cooperation is not about to change, judging by the last statements from the Palace. Assurances from senators like Bongbong Marcos that the President will be treated fairly and with utmost respect have been dismissed out of hand.

Said Marcos: “President Aquino should not be afraid of attending the hearings. We won’t make things difficult for him. All we want to know is (1) what were his instructions to his commanders in the highly secret operation; (2) what was the reason why DILG Secretary Mar Roxas was not informed of the operation; and (3) why was the command structure of the PNP not told about the Mamasapano operation.”

Coloma’s shield of verbosity    
Aquino’s response to the Senate request that he attend the Senate inquiry and answer questions, has been to hide behind the numbing verbosity of Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., who expresses at will what he thinks is or should be in the President’s mind.

Coloma explained Aquino’s decision to snub the inquiry, by saying that the President has expressed his sentiments and said his piece on the incident many times last year. Sentiments? We want to know what he knows and what he did.

Coloma persisted: “There have been a number of investigations conducted and completed on the matter by the PNP [Philippine National Police] Board of Inquiry, House of Representatives, Senate and the Commission on Human Rights and also the DOJ [Department of Justice] and NBI [National Bureau of Investigation]. The Office of the Ombudsman also conducted its own probe. The President repeatedly discussed this issue in many of his public appearances last year.”

But the fact remains that Aquino never once explained in detail what he knew or did on January 25.

Coloma sought to douse a statement of Senator Enrile that they will zero in on the participation of Aquino in Oplan Exodus when the congressional probe reopens on January 25.

Coloma declared that there are constitutional parameters that should be followed regarding an invitation by Congress for the President to appear in any of its investigations, especially since the executive and legislative are co-equal branches.

Coloma maintained that should the members of the legislature deem it right to invite top government officials, including the President, the invitation should be in accordance with the dictates of the law.

“If they have prepared questions, the executive is ready to answer them even before the resumption of the Senate hearing on January 25,” Coloma said.

“We just hope that the time of our lawmakers and government officials would be spent justly instead of wasting it [in]politics,” he concluded.

Will Senator Poe chair the new inquiry?
Another point that has been the subject of discussion is whether, Sen. Grace Poe, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, will chair the resumption of the Mamasapano hearings.

As most people will remember, it was Sen. Poe in tandem with Sen. Francis Escudero, who directed the thrust of the earlier inquiry. It was they who decided not to call President Aquino to testify (in executive session or in writing). It was they who abruptly decided to end the hearings.

And it was they who decided not to submit a committee report to the Senate plenary for debate.

It was Sen. Poe who decided to offer the media and the public an executive summary of her committee report. She extracted every ounce of publicity from the innocuous statement that “President Aquino was ultimately responsible for what happened in Mamasapano on January 25, 2015.”

I wrote in a column last year that Sen. Poe’s decision not to submit a full committee report, and her decision not to call President Aquino to testify turned the Senate inquiry into a travesty. All the histrionics about “ultimately responsible” signified nothing.

Ms. Poe failed her mission for the Senate the first time around. The chamber should not entrust to her inexpert hands this exceptional second chance afforded the chamber to do what is right in the Mamasapano inquiry, and for the fallen SAF 44.

The Senate will not fail them and the nation this time. JPE will see to that.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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27 Comments

  1. Thank god JPE is back….. it’s going to be his final mission in service of the filipinos abnoy is calling it a political move but in binay longest inquiry they just sat and glorified on the moment with his boyfriends mar and the 3 stooges namely trillanes cayetano and koko i swear i woundnt trust those 3… And why poe statement “ultimately” made her unqualified to be the commander in chief ? It showed incompetence, it would be like abnoy’s administration all over again she would be clean but all the people she will appoint will be not because she doesnt have leadership qualities and experience that the country is needing badly… After her statement i crossed her out my list and only one person is left binay will lead this country to the glory it was once was! Manong is right study the facts and backgrounds none of the candidates but binay has the experience and education required to guide us

  2. What good could we expect from those leaders who hide the devil behind the curtain. Can we trust the country under their selfish and bias leadership. Filipinos need clean environment for good. When so much dirties being covered as in the case of Mamasapano tragedy, the country would be totally rotten as being felt right now. JPE is right and must earn the support of majority Filipinos.

  3. When the 3 stooges in the Senate.. there were no parameters when it comes to inviting Binay..

    Now they’re saying that the time of the Senate and Gov’t Officials should be spent justly and not be wasted on politics.. hindi nyo sinabi yan noong si Binay ang iniimbistigahan (kuno)..

    anyhow.. this is just an opinion.. I will still vote either between Duterte or MDS..

  4. I have concern in the reopening of the Mamasapano case because, we know, Sen. JPE’s role in dismantling then Sen. Manny Villar’s presidential candidacy when Sen. JPE investigated Sen. Villar for the C5 anomaly just months before the 2010 elections. Sen. JPE may just be using this avenue to wreck Mar Roxas’ and Sen. Grace Poe’s candidacy for the coming presidential elections. If Sen. JPE intends to determine Pres. Aquino’s accountability in the Mamasapano massacre, it may be better to do this after Pres. Aquino steps down in June 30, 2016. By then, Pres. Aquino cannot hide in the immunity from suit as he will no longer be president. He will no longer be able to decline a Senate inquiry w/o the risk of being arrested for contempt.

    • Let it be.. let it be…JPE is not running for any position… he is also running out of time for his final mission so let it be..let it be…wide open for us to know what really happened to our Great Fallen Heroes..

  5. I must say that the pronouncement that the president is “ultimately” responsible for the mamasapano fiasco is almost a brilliant formulation designed to perhaps assuage the general albeit suppressed feeling that pnoy was indeed personally guilty from the start of the snafu that costed the lives of the fallen 44. Let’s face it the spin masters were at it from the start of the enquiry and true to their calling they have come up with the “ultimately responsible” as a fitting pronouncement at the end of the hearings and grace Poe should be happy with it why because it sounded like a tough indictment against pnoy. But really what does “ultimately” responsible mean? It means nothing but that perhaps someday, maybe before the gates of heaven pnoy will be finally made responsible but until then it remains in limbo don’t it. “Ultimately” my gosh! Not everyone will be lulled into giving grace Poe credit for tough decision making although I must congratulate these spin masters they are getting truly adept at their craft. I just hope that in the reopening this “ultimately responsible” bulshit will be discarded and real responsibility is pinned and pronounced against the moron.

  6. I see the deliberately “un-plenaried” Poe report in the shape of big swords (as Damocles’) hanging by the thinnest horse hair above each of the heads of Aquino, Catapang (ng …), Escudero, Delima, Gazmin, Pangilinan, Poe, Purisima, Roxas, et al.

    As written by Cicero; “Damocles, a court SYCOPHANT, was enjoying himself immensely… until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, that was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the TYRANT Dionysius explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like. The story ends with Damocles repenting. Then he eagerly returned to his poorer, but safer life.”

  7. when grace poe said , “there is no need for Aquino to appear before the senate mamasapano hearing, and ended that same hearing by merely announcing to the Fil. people that ” the senate hearing found out that Aquino is ultimately responsible for the mamasapano incident, I just lost whatever respect for grace poe as a public official representing the fil. people , I was so disgusted that right on our very face, she just disregarded the death of the saf-44 (the pains Fil. people were feeling ) .. Thanks to sen Enrile , mabuhay ka Enrile and more power to you

  8. The only service that the Ponce carries out is one that benefits him. He was #2 during the Marcos era, he only supported the revolution because Marcos discovered he was plotting against him. He led a counter revolution against the Civilian Govt. He has had so many mistresses and affairs and has (allegedly) stolen a vast amount of money from the people during his years of “public service”. He was so ill he had to be released from confinement, yet makes a miraculous recovery to start work again immediately.
    He is the epitome of what is wrong with the Philippines political scene.

  9. Sir,
    The background of Sen. Enrile speaks for itself.
    He is the real Mc Coy to handle such inquiry in pursuit of authentic truth and justice.
    At least No stand down order in the Senate.

  10. Leodegardo Pruna on

    JPE indeed would be scoring his last hurrah in the Mamasapano fiasco as it pins down the inept leadership. Let the music begin. God bless the Philippines.

  11. Concerned-Citizen on

    Senator Poe’s ad “Ayusin natin ang Pilipinas”, eh, papano niya ma aayos ang Pinas, samantalang yun affidavits at coc ay di niya na ayos lagyan ng tamang detalye. Di ba taliwas ito sa katotohanan? Pano mo ma aasahan ang ganyang tao?

    • Isa syang Senador na hindi nakaka alam kong ano ang isinasaad ng Saligang Batas ng Filipinas. So mas naiintindihan nya ang pag sawalang bahala sa isang tinawag na constitution. Ipinag pipilitan nya na honest mistake daw yon at poydi na mabaliwala ang mga nakasaad sa citizenship issue nya na kaya nyang labagin dahil sa mayron naman syang backer na nag babayad sa kanyang abogado na kumikita na in millions mula ng pumotok ang kanyang palpak na stado ng kanyang mga papalis na doubtful in content.

  12. Florencio Abad on

    JPE is lucky to be out. He should be in jail with his cohort.. Estrada and Revilla. Jail is where they belong.

    • He was never lucky. The arguments presented and jurisprudence made it imperative for the fascist administration of benigno to release him.

    • GOD bless Sen. Enrile! thank you Lord for his release. Now, let us see how Aquino and his cohorts would dance this travesty of travesties!

    • I think Aquino and his yellow cohorts should be jailed for the high crimes they have committed against the people and the constitution.

  13. The “half-baked” natural-born Filipino citizen, Ms. Poe, has shown her incompetence and bias in chairing the committee on Mamasapano investigation. Yet, she is acting as if she is the only one who can lead the nation by insisting that she run for president. By all means, she should not chair any investigation on the subject. I fully agree that no one, no one, is best suited for the chairmanship on the investigation. but Senator Enrile.

    Forget about the ‘Steve Harvey’ in Malacanang. He talks faster than he thinks; in circles explaining things and end up having non-sense explanations.

    • That gives him the advantage of experience and wisdom. FYI, he is even an amicus curiae of the Supreme Court. Hence, he has the legal expertise to course the reinvestigation to its logical conclusion. Tell me another senator who has better academic credentials and experience than Manong.

    • In this present set-up, I wholeheartedly trust JPE to chair the re-investigation! He has the capability and knowledge on how to chair the committee. Never Poe again!

  14. JPE said there’s new evidence so I’m glad they will reopen the case. I hope there will be clarity on who should be put behind bars.

    I trust Senator Poe to chair the new inquiry, she has shown she is capable and unbiased.