There’s a scene in the film “Something’s Gotta Give” which crystallizes acutely what the nation faces with the government’s decision to unleash multiple inquiries on the Mamasapano massacre under the guise of searching for the truth.
In the scene, Jack Nicholson, playing a ladies man and looking like somebody who has gotten away with something, pleads with his 50-something loved one Diane Keaton to forgive him. He says: “I’ve never lied to you. I’ve always told you some version of the truth.”
Diane replies angrily: “The truth doesn’t have versions, okay?”
It’s a point that should immediately be raised with the chief investigator of each inquiry into the massacre.
Eight different inquiries
The last time I counted with my fingers, eight different inquiries were being set up for funding and launching. Each one wants to come up with a version of the truth. The inquiries, in no particular order of importance, are:
1. PNP Board of Inquiry
(constituted by DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, with PMA classmates of suspended and resigned PNP Chief Purisima in the panel)
2. Senate committee inquiry, with Sen. Grace Poe as chief investigator.
All senators are welcome to join the party
3. Justice department inquiry
(Constituted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima)
4. Investigation by the International Monitoring Team
5. Investigation by the proposed truth commission or fact-finding body, if it is created by congress
6. Joint inquiry by the two houses of congress (proposed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte)
7. Investigation by the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF)
8. Investigation to be personally conducted by President Aquino (as he announced in his second speech on the massacre)
Will each inquiry produce its own version of the truth? When all versions are finished, will they add up to something that can be called the truth? What will be presented to the grieving families to satisfy their demands for justice?
You have to be dense and clueless like President Aquino not to see what is happening here.
The whole point of all this inquiring is to cover up what happened. It is to come up with the uniform finding that President Aquino is innocent of wrongdoing. He did not send all those young brave commandos to their deaths. He dutifully shed tears.
Inquiry by politicians a travesty
The latest inquiry to take off is the Senate inquiry, which got off and running yesterday.
The hearing was called by the Senate committee on public order chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, who’s been itching for some time to conduct an inquiry and pose as a hotshot lawyer and investigator.
I don’t know what happened at the hearing yesterday. I did not have the stomach to endure another Senate inquiry on live TV.
As I have already stated in this column, I believe that only an independent and comprehensive inquiry conducted by a commission or fact-finding body created by Congress for the purpose will have the credibility and authority to satisfactorily investigate the events and circumstances surrounding the incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Congress must vest it with powers and give it a budget sufficient to conduct a full-scale inquiry. The members must be persons of undoubted probity.
An inquiry by a congressional committee – even by a joint committee of the legislature—does not qualify as a substitute.
An investigation conducted by politicians, especially politicians allied to the administration, is a travesty of the needed process. It cannot conduct an inquiry that will bring closure to this gaping wound in national life.
Senator Poe thoughtlessly compromised her inquiry and herself when she made public statements commending President Aquino for accepting Alan Purisima’s resignation, and commending Purisima for resigning. Will she have the gall to call Aquino for questioning; what will she do when he expectedly refuses? Will she haul him to the Senate in the same way that they dragged Mayor Junjun Binay to the Senate chambers for refusing to testify.
Senate President Drilon compromised the whole Senate when he preempted any inquiry by declaring that the president bears no responsibility or culpability for the massacre. Senator Antonio Trillanes went further by exonerating both Aquino and Purisima.
Why the TV networks insist in putting them on live TV is grotesque.
An absolute need to know
An inquiry into Mamasapano is imperative; it is a serious national undertaking that must be conducted with care, impartiality, professionalism and total integrity. No stone should be left unturned until all the pertinent facts are gathered.
The fact that the President may have to be authorized to appoint the members of the fact-finding commission should not paralyze us into inaction. A two-step process like that followed by the Judicial and Bar Council for selecting candidates for the Supreme Court may work to insure the body from politics.
The certitude that President Aquino will have to called to testify should not also throw a monkey wrench on the inquiry. He can testify in executive session if necessary.
The multiple inquiries are a distraction and a waste of money. We have to turn our undivided attention on a real inquiry.
There is today, right now, an absolute need to know what really happened in Mamasapano, and why it happened.
The conscience and honor of the nation are on the balance.