MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III should not be made to appear in the investigation on the Manila hostage crisis, one of his allies in the Senate said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in a forum, Sen. Francis Escudero said it would be "OA (over-acting)" for the body investigating the hostage-taking incident to summon the President.
"I don't think the subordinate can call on the superior given the fact that the subordinate is only the alter-ego of the President," Escudero said.
"Hindi naman siguro dapat pa na hilahin ang Pangulo sa isyung ito." (I don't think the President should be dragged into this issue.)
President Aquino has been criticized for the botched response to the hostage crisis, which many say is the biggest test of his administration so far. Critics said he should have been hands-on in responding to the crisis.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier said the President is willing to undergo questioning if summoned to the investigation on the August 23 hostage crisis.
“If the Secretary of Justice would find it necessary, and this is an independent probe, I’m sure the president will be more than welcome to shed light his participation,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
The Incident Investigation Review Committee (IIRC), headed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, is set to begin its clarificatory hearings on the August 23 siege on Friday.
On Tuesday, De Lima said that although there is no plan yet to invite the President to the hearings, it is something they cannot rule out.
Escudero said President Aquino's Cabinet secretaries should answer in his behalf.
"Masyado nang pinapababa ng ganyang uri ng pagpapatawag hindi lang ang Pangulo at ang katauhan niya kundi ang opisinang kinakatawan niya," he said.
(That kind of summons would only denigrate not just the President but the office that he represents.)
Meanwhile, Escudero wants Robredo to inhibit himself from the investigation because the agency he heads is among those being probed.
"Para sa akin ito ay dapat at marapat na pangunahan na lamang ng DOJ (Department of Justice) at NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) at merong mga observer mula sa Hong Kong authorities at wala ng iba upang matiyak na magiging parehas at pantay ang imbestigasyong isinasagawa," he said.