Multiple investigations of the Mamasapano carnage that killed dozens of Special Action Force (SAF) commandos may spoil everything, lawmakers warned on Tuesday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe gave the warning as they pushed for a joint House-Senate inquiry into the incident for efficiency instead of establishing a Truth Commission, which will have retired magistrates as members as suggested by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd.
As of Tuesday, six separate entities are poised to investigate the police operation that left 44 SAF members dead—Philippine National Police-Board of Inquiry (BOI), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), International Monitoring Team, Senate and House of Representatives.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) joined the fray also on Tuesday when it created its
own fact-finding team that will investigate the case of the “Fallen 44.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the DOJ shall investigate the personalities involved in the SAF clash with MILF rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.
She added that the team will be composed of state prosecutors and/or state attorneys under the National Prosecution Service and investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation, an attached agency of the department.
The House Public Order and Safety has invited suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to a hearing set for February 11.
“Congress is the proper party [to investigate this]. We have inherent powers [to probe]. It’s in the law. We just need aresolution [to be adopted to start off the inquiry]. We don’t want this probe to drag and be forgotten,” Belmonte said.
The SAF members were in pursuit of terrorists Marwan and Usman when they were ambushed and killed by the MILF forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
“We don’t need the Truth Commission. There are a lot of sectors doing the investigation. Kapag maraming nagluluto, napapanis [When a lot of people are dipping their hands into a dish, it gets spoiled],” Batocabe said.
There are at least 15 House members who are in favor of establishing a truth panel.
Of the 15, nine are from the opposition—Representatives Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Lito Atienza of Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list, Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list, Lani Mercado of Cavite, Victor Ortega of La Union, Philip Pichay of Surigao del Sur, Aleta Suarez of Quezon, Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga and Diosdado Arroyo of Camarines Sur—while six are from the administration ranks, namely: Representatives Sitti Hataman of Abante Mindanao party-list, Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur, Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, Jorge Banal of Quezon City, Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagay Island and Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina City (Metro Manila).
WITH JOMAR CANLAS