Sunday, September 22, 2019

24 resource persons told: Cooperate with Senate probe on Mamasapano

SENATOR Grace Poe asked on Friday the 24 invited resource persons to voluntarily attend the reopened Senate investigation into the botched Mamasapano operation, which is scheduled on January 27.

Among those invited to appear before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs were Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., former Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang, resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, and former PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas.

Poe, committee chairperson, said all 24 invited resource persons should attend the hearing to put to rest all issues surrounding the bungled operation that killed 44 elite SAF troopers.

On January 25, SAF policemen launched an operation against terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Bassit Usman, but it resulted in a fire fight with Moro rebels. The encounter had left Marwan dead.

"I am encouraging all the invited (resource persons who were) given the letter to attend (the inquiry) to finish it soon. If they do not attend, it will take long because we will invite them to attend another hearing," Poe said in a radio interview.

"We all know that this wound would take too long to heal. Revealing what they know (about the bungled operation) is a process that would cure all our complaints and affliction," she added.

Poe granted Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile's request to reopen the probe, citing new information that would divulge the direct participation of President Benigno Aquino III in the Oplan Exodus.

Enrile was not able to attend the Mamasapano hearings because he was under hospital detention when it was conducted last year. He is facing plunder and graft charges for his involvement in the pork barrel scam.

"To know if there is really negligence, (we will let Enrile) ask questions which he said were still not asked. Our intention here is to improve the law so this kind of tragedy would not happen again and that the justice would be served to the victims," Poe said.

Poe said the committee would not compel the President to attend the Senate inquiry.

"The President has immunity. We cannot compel him to attend such hearing. Perhaps, if there will be affidavit that the President took oath, we could use it as basis," she said.

Confident that everything has been covered in the past hearings, Poe said she was standing by the committee report that she prepared. The draft report was signed by 21 senators.

Poe, however, said that the returning resource persons would be held liable if found to have withheld information that they already had during the series of hearings and executive sessions last year.

"The reason why we re-open this hearing is to know what really transpired. They (resource persons) should voluntarily provide whatever they know (about the operation. That’s why I’m not impressed to those who were saying that it (their answer) depends to the question. If there is something lacking, they should be the ones to voluntarily reveal what they knew when we had the executive session," Poe said. (Sunnex)

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