A lawmaker has urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to certify as urgent the proposal to establish an independent fact-finding panel that will investigate the Mamasapano incident where 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police were killed.
Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said the “urgency and gravity” of the incident requires the swift passage of a measure creating the Mamasapano Truth Commission.
“Being a public servant, it is of utmost importance for the President to have the truth commission institutionalized at the shortest possible time given the clamor for truth by his bosses. As many people say: Justice delayed is justice denied,” Gatchalian said in a statement issued on Sunday.
He maintained that Aquino should be among those who will be summoned by the proposed commission “since there have been persistent reports that he was the one who gave the ‘go-signal’ for the SAF operation.”
“The President should also attend the proceedings of such commission if his testimony is needed and truthfully answer the questions of the panel. He should lead by example,” Gatchalian stressed.
The lawmaker filed on Wednesday House Bill 5404, to be known as the “Mamasapano Truth Commission Act,” patterned after the Davide Commission that investigated the series of attempted coups d’etat against the government of then President Corazon Aquino.
Under the measure, the head of the proposed commission should be a retired Supreme Court Justice while its four members should come from the academe, clergy, or any respectable and duly licensed profession.
The President shall appoint all the members of the commission, which will be have only one year to accomplish its mandate to ensure swift accountability.
Former Justice Secretary and 1-BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd had proposed that the truth panel be headed by former President Fidel Ramos.
Ramos’ track record in the area of peace negotiations, military experience and dependability are “beyond question,” Bello said.
This developed as senators allied with Aquino appealed to the public to go easy on calls for the president to step down.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 4thsaid that while he understands the sentiments of the people, it would be best if the public remained calm and give the government a chance to find out the truth about the incident in Mamasapano and bring to the bar of justice those who are accountable for the policemen’s deaths.
Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said calling for Aquino’s resignation is not the right solution to the crisis.
“If any, the resignation of the President will only be counter-productive since this will lead to a shake-up in the government. In this highly volatile situation, we need a leader. We need the President to lead us out of these dark days,” he said.
Militant party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate and Terry Ridon of Bayan Muna and Kabataan respectively, have appealed to Aquino to step down for the role he played in the operation that claimed the lives of elite police officers.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th said the public should wait for the result of the investigation of the Maguindanao tragedy.
The Senate committee will begin its two-day hearing on the Mamasapano incident today. As of Sunday, only five of the 18 invited resource persons have confirmed their attendance.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina were among those who accepted the Senate invitation, along with relieved PNP-SAF director Getulio Napenas and Mamasapano survivor PO2 Christopher Lalan.
Supt. Raymond Train, the highest ranking officer of the raiding team, will also be attending the Senate panel hearing.