PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III should own up responsibility for the Mamasapano incident and apologize to the nation.

This was former senator and former PNP chief Panfilo Lacson’s advice to the President.

“I don't think it is too late for him (Aquino) to say in very clear terms that he is assuming responsibility,” he said. He said Aquino should say sorry.

Lacson said that the President has command responsibility for the Jan. 25, 2015 incident as commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. He cited Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.

But this does not mean Aquino is liable for the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, five civilians and 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, he added.

Responsibility, liability

Lacson, one of the guest speakers in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines convention in Cebu City yesterday, said that responsibility and liability are two different things. He urged the 2,500 lawyers who attended the convention to explain this difference to the public.

Lacson said that Filipinos must understand that although Aquino was responsible for the Mamasapano incident, he had not been accused of stealing public funds or using his position to serve his interests.

Before leaving the convention, Lacson accommodated requests from lawyers who wanted their photo taken with him.

Last January, about 300 SAF troopers were sent out to arrest a suspected terrorist who was believed to be hiding in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Then PNP chief Alan Purisima admitted being involved in the planning of the operation although he was suspended in connection with a bungled firearms contract. Purisima resigned after the incident.