Santiago: Aquino trying to skirt liability over Mamasapano

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III's continued refusal to apologize for the bloody anti-terror mission in Mamasapano, Maguindanao is a tactic to evade liability, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said Wednesday.

She said the President is afraid of admitting his mistake because it might be used against him once his term ends in 2016.

Aquino has been criticized for entrusting the mission to his close friend, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, who was serving a six-month suspension for corruption charges when the operation took place.

“He wants to avoid any liability arising from a confession after his term finishes in 2016. Remember that after he is no longer President, he becomes liable to all manner of suits. He loses his immunity from suit, both civilian and criminal,” said Santiago.

If the President says sorry for his lapses on the Mamasapano incident, Santiago said a judge might consider that as a “confession admissible in court."

She added that, in effect, Aquino would be his “own worst witness.”

“That is why he does not want to apologize. He wants to evade any criminal or even civil liability after 2016,” she said.

Malacañang disagreed.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the President has been doing what is necessary to determine the truth regarding the incident and deliver justice to the slain policemen.

Santiago said Aquino should have disclosed early on his knowledge and participation in the Mamasapano operation, which resulted in a bloody clash between Special Action Force (SAF) troopers and Moro rebels.

"The truth should have been released immediately, the moment that the crisis becomes booming. Immediately, the President should have by himself told the truth to the Filipino public," the senator said.

The President's cousin, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, said Monday that Aquino had already admitted his responsibility over the incident.

He also said apologizing to the public would be a “trap” for the President because some would still not appreciate his expression of regret.

“It’s a trap. You’re almost sure that as soon as he says sorry, someone’s going to say, ‘Why is he smiling? Why does his face show he’s not sincere? Why is his tone like that?’ I’m almost sure that those who are asking him to say sorry are already with their sentiments after he does,” the senator said.

The bungled operation, which was supposed to arrest two terror suspects, claimed the lives of Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, 44 elite cops, 18 Moro rebels, and five civilians. (with SDR/Sunnex)


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