MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should call for the the swift prosecution of cases in the botched 2015 Mamasapano operation, Senator Grace Poe said Monday following the filing of charges against former president Benigno "Noynoy" III.
"Malaking bagay rin sa pag-usad ng kaso 'pag mayroon talagang pagtulak mula sa ating Pangulo. Siguro dapat ipaalala na ang paghilom ng ating bayan ay napakahalaga sa usaping ito kaya dapat unahin din ang kaso at tapusin na agad," Poe said in an interview with radio DZMM.
Poe, former chair of the Senate committee on public order, had led a Senate inquiry that found Aquino ''ultimately responsible'' for the deaths of 44 policemen who were supposed to arrest Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Filipino cohort Basit Usman.
The Senate panel said Aquino allowed former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Alan Purisima to participate in the planning and execution of the anti-terror raid while under preventive suspension over an allegedly anomalous gun courier service deal.
The Office of the Ombudsman last week ordered the filing of criminal charges against the former president for the Mamasapano bloodbath.
Poe welcomed Aquino's indictment, saying this will give him a chance to present his defense.
"Panahon na rin na marinig mismo sa bibig ng dating pangulo ang kanyang punto at kanyang naging partisipasyon ukol dito," she said.
The senator however admitted that existing laws should be strengthened to clearly determine the command responsibility of officials involved in botched operations.
"Iisipin din natin ito: kung lahat ng command responsibility ay maipapataw sa Pangulo 'pag mayroong napatay sa isang operasyon, may kapalpakan sa operasyon, sa tingin ko, walang mamumuno sa ating bayan na hindi makukulong," she said.
Aquino's camp meanwhile said the former president felt the full facts surrounding the incident had not been presented.
"An initial reading shows that there may have been a misappreciation of some facts surrounding the incident, leading to some erroneous conclusions," Abigail Valte, Aquino's spokesperson, said in a statement.
Aquino previously blamed the carnage on former Special Action Forces (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas who allegedly lied to him and disobeyed orders.