PNoy hands off on SAF probes

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 19 2015 08:43 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2015 04:52 PM

MANILA - There is no cover-up or whitewash of the investigations into the Jan. 25 encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao and President Aquino is keeping his hands off the inquiries to let the truth come out, Malacañang insisted yesterday.

In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also said he had no information yet on whether the National Security Council (NSC) or the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) would be convened.

But he said Congress has been working on the administration’s priority measures, including the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), despite the Mamasapano clash where 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) were killed.

“The President or the executive branch got no involvement in the ongoing investigations and hearings aside from the resource persons who were called,” Coloma said.

Coloma denied allegations that it was the Palace who wanted the congressional investigations or hearings suspended or stopped because its officials would benefit from such decision of the lawmakers.

“From the very beginning, the President cited the importance of knowing the complete narrative and finding out the whole truth,” Coloma said.

“The determination and the belief in those principles are unshaken,” Coloma said.

Coloma said in the President’s Feb. 6 national address, he had told the people about what he knew at the time and let the investigations take their course so that the full story would be known.

He reiterated that the President would make a decision to speak at the right time when asked if Aquino would discuss what he knew about the Mamasapano incident.

The Senate is continuing its hearings and while the House of Representatives has suspended its own investigation, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said it would resume in two weeks.

Belmonte also dismissed speculations that the Palace had a hand in stopping the House probe.

Coloma said the Board of Inquiry (BOI) formed by the Philippine National Police to investigate the Mamasapano tragedy would come out with the results of its inquiry on Feb. 26.

He did not say whether the President could be invited by the BOI and answer questions regarding Mamasapano, only that he would speak at the right time. Aquino has had two televised national addresses on the Mamasapano incident.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said President Aquino’s continued refusal to publicly disclose the extent of his involvement in the planning and execution of the Mamasapano operation is fuelling the anger among Filipinos and depriving justice to the victims.

Romualdez said it was obvious that Aquino was hiding many things as the various statements and testimonies of his Cabinet, police and military officials contradict his own.

“I think it is about time that he just show up and come up with the truth… We all know what is happening, you all know what is happening — we’re all being taken for a ride that’s why the people are angry,” he said.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said it does not help that Aquino “has a very incompetent set of people around him and that is causing all of this confusion.”

He said that the people around Aquino were the same people that caused the downfall of former President Joseph Estrada, and tried to oust former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Meanwhile, former police and military officers who are now House members issued a joint statement calling on Aquino to “show decisive leadership” in the aftermath of Mamasapano.

“We make this call in the midst of the rage and anxiety not only among the ranks of the police and military because of the brutal killing of their comrades, but also of our countrymen,” the lawmakers said.

The statement was issued by Reps. Romeo Acop of Antipolo, Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan, and Samuel Pagdilao of the ACT-CIS party-list group. –With Paolo Romero

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