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SENATE PANEL REOPENS MAMASAPANO PROBE


JANUARY 5 -A total of 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force commandos were killed during an encounter against Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015. File photo
 The Senate Committee on Rules on Monday ruled to bring the committee report on the Jan. 25, 2015 tragedy in Mamasapano, Maguindanao to the committee level for additional hearing. "The Committee (on Rules) hereby rules that there are no longer any obstacles to the return of the Committee Report No. 120 on the Mamasapano incident," Committee on Rules chair Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said. On November 2015, Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile and Vicente "Tito" Sotto III earlier filed a motion to reopen the investigation of the Mamasapano incident. Enrile said he wants to reopen the investigation at the committee level to ask questions regarding the government's actions during the encounter between the Special Action Force and Moro rebels a year ago. He was detained when the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted the Mamasapano probe early last year. Sen. Grace Poe, who heads the committee, agreed with Enrile's petition. FULL TEXT: Senate panel's report on Mamasapano clash The Senate Committee on Rules is set to reopen the investigation "without voiding the previous proceedings."  READ MORE...RELATED, Enrile info prompts new Mamasapano inquiry - SENATE HEARING SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 25...

ALSO: ‘No more probes’ - PNoy’s House allies reject SAF 44 quiz resumption


JANUARY 7 -Rep. Jerry Treñas 
CONGRESSIONAL allies of President Benigno Aquino III rejected Wednesday the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation authorized by the Palace, calling it a waste of time and a political gimmick. Reps. Jerry Trenas of Iloilo and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela said there is very little time left for lawmakers before the May elections and the closing of the 16th Congress in June, so it was better for both the House and the Senate to stay focused on their legislative function. Trenas said that this move to resurrect the issue is obviously a ploy to discredit the Aquino administration and weaken the President’s chosen candidates. “Stop flogging a dead horse. We have to move on and let the lessons of Mamasapano guide us for the future. Re-opening this Mamasapano issue for the purpose of politicking is the highest form of disrespect and dishonor on the memories of our fallen policemen,” Trenas, vice chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said. Trenas said that Congress is not a judicial body and all of its investigations are only for the purpose of creating legislation that may prevent incidents like the Mamasapano encounter from happening in the future. “Clearly, the purpose of this move to reopen the Mamasapano issue on the basis of alleged new evidence related to the incident is nothing more than a political gimmickry. They want to squeeze this issue dry and pin down the Aquino administration,” Trenas said. Albano agreed that reopening any case in the event of a new evidence is the work of judicial bodies and not Congress. “We should keep focused on our legislative work. We may not have the luxury of time to attend to reopening of investigations on issues such as the Mamasapano,” Albano said. Trenas tagged as “overacting” the effort to reopen the Mamasapano probe. “Instead of re-opening a Senate probe on this Mamasapano raid, Congress should already start crafting measures that provides more government support for policemen and soldiers who are killed in the line of duty,” Trenas said. One measure that should be passed is a proposal that would increase the combat pay of uniformed personnel and salaries for soldiers and policemen who are assigned in high-risk areas, Trenas said. Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. added that reopening the Mamasapano probe in Congress would “adversely affect” the criminal cases filed against those responsible for the massacre. “The reopening of the Mamasapano probe will only create confusion among the public. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate had already conducted extensive investigations into the matter then,” Barzaga said, adding that the Senate had already made its findings public. Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz shared a similar view. “The reopening will only exacerbate the situation as we will again be treated to the same old tricks,” he said, adding that it was another opportunity for cover-ups. READ MORE...

ALSO: Poe insists PNoy was responsible


JANUARY 8 -Sen. Grace Poe SENATOR Grace Poe said Thursday she would not change her committee report on the 2015 Mamasapano massacre, which found President Benigno Aquino III “ultimately responsible” for the death of 44 police commandos unless new evidence is presented during the reopening of Senate investigation. The Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, which Poe chairs, and the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation led by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, will reconvene on Jan. 27 to hear any new information or evidence in the case. In an interview Thursday, Poe said she stand by the findings of her committee report, which were based on five public hearings, five executive sessions and 73 hours of full discussion attended by 37 resource persons, and 4,300 documents. “I am confident with our committee hearings. If there is no new evidence, I will not change the orderly, just and impartial committee report,” Poe said. In the report, Poe said the President must bear responsibility for giving consent to and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions by then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima in connection with Oplan Exodus, the ill-fated Mamasapano operation. “He assented to Purisima’s unlawful exercise of official functions, particularly the latter’s “usurpation of authority or official functions. The President relied on and directly coordinated with the suspended PNP Chief, as it was shown that he continued to communicate with the latter on Oplan Exodus, based on testimonies and evidence presented in the public hearings,” said Poe in her draft report on the Mamasapano incident. Oplan Exodus was the covert police operation to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his henchman, bomb maker Basit Usman. A copy of the draft report was submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, which recommended to the Sandiganbayan the filing of charges against certain people. However, the President was not among them. While Poe said there is strong evidence that the President consented to the participation of an officer who was suspended for corruption, she also acknowledged that “sometimes, legal implications, if the lawyers are good and the personalities are known, can easily get off the hook.”  The reopening of the Senate inquiry came after Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said he was unable to ask key questions during the hearings because he was detained at the time on plunder charges.  In his manifestation, Enrile cited the “critical period” of two days after the massacre in which the government failed to act. “What happened to the government? Was it functioning? Was it in paralysis? Why was there a complete silence during this critical period? What happened to the entire instrument of government to maintain order in this country to protect the people? Was there a government in those moments?” said the 91-year-old senator.  He said he wanted answers to these questions because the government must serve the people with no interregnum. “It must function every minute, every second of the day, of the week, of the month, of the year,” also said Enrile who was jailed at the PNP Custodian Center after being charged with plunder over the pork barrel scam. Poe said they have yet to release a list of resource persons to be invited when the committee reconvenes on Jan. 25, exactly a year after members of the PNP Special Action Force were killed by Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. She said they still waiting for a list from the senators, especially from Enrile, on the guests that should be called to the hearing. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon expressed hope the reopening of the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano incident will not hamper the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and the other legislative agenda. “If reopening the Mamasapano will allow our esteemed colleague Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to ask questions that he deemed are important to ferret out the truth, then we support it,” Drilon said. “We still have many proposed legislation to discuss and work on such as the BBL and the proposed salary hike for public sector workers, so I am hopeful that reopening the Mamasapano probe will not draw time, attention and energies away from our lawmaking duties,” Drilon said. The Senate leader also expressed concerns that the passage of the BBL may again be put in peril due to the issues surrounding the Mamasapano incident. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino cites 'politics' in Mamasapano probe reopening


JANUARY 8 -President Aquino looks up at flying jets as he leads the flag-raising ceremony or the commemoration of the 119th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Filipino hero Jose Rizal at the Rizal National Monument in Rizal Park, Manila City on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. Malacañang Photo Bureau / Joseph Vidal
President Benigno Aquino III criticized on Friday the move to reopen the Senate investigation into the killing of police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, citing politics and publicity as motives. In an interview with reporters in Davao City, Aquino alluded to the administration's political rivals whom he says pushed for the resumption of the probe in an attempt to implicate him in the tragedy.
"I think with all these occurrences, I can see the big role of politics," Aquino said after the inauguration of the 300-megawatt Davao Baseload Power Plant in Toril town. "Perhaps, we should not forget who pushed for it, maybe we can understand, most likely ill feelings towards my administration," he added. A total of 44 elite police officers were killed in an encounter with members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and armed groups in an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano in January last year. Aquino was tagged as among those who ordered the botched mission to arrest international terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his cohort Basit Usman. Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, charged with plunder for the pork barrel scam, requested the reopening of the inquiry, the first of which was held in January 2015. The 91-year-old Enrile was in detention when the Senate conducted in February last year. READ MORE...RELATED, Aquino sees politics in probe -ENRILE HAS AX TO GRIND AGAINST ME, SAYS AQUINO...

ALSO: Roxas on Mamasapano probe - ‘I have nothing to hide’


JANUARY 9 -INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA 
“I have nothing to hide.” Such was the statement of former Interior Secretary and Liberal Party’s standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, saying he would attend the reopening of the Mamasapano probe at the Senate if invited. “E wala naman tayong itinatago at kung ano man ang nais nilang tanungin ay wala namang problema,” Roxas told reporters in an interview in Romblon on Saturday.
(I have nothing to hide and whatever they want to ask, there won’t be any problem.) “Hindi ako aatras sa kahit na anong imbestigasyon at ako ay para sa hayag na pagtingin sa lahat ng mga bagay,” he added. (I won’t back out in any investigation and I am open to looking into different angles.) Despite the series of investigation conducted by the Senate, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police (PNP), Roxas said he was willing to answer questions, which could have been left unanswered in previous investigations. “So kung meron pang hindi naitanong e di bukas tayong tumulong, kung ipapatawag tayo para sagutin lahat ng itong mga katanungan,” he said. (If there were questions unasked, I am open to help if I would be called to answer all these questions.) Last January 5, presidential aspirant and Senator Grace Poe said the Senate would reopen the investigation on the Mamasapano incident. READ MORE...RELATED, SAF 44 families welcome reopening of probe into Mamasapano carnage...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Senate panel reopens Mamasapano probe


A total of 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force commandos were killed during an encounter against Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015. File photo

MANILA, JANUARY 11, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Patricia Lourdes Viray January 5, 2016 - The Senate Committee on Rules on Monday ruled to bring the committee report on the Jan. 25, 2015 tragedy in Mamasapano, Maguindanao to the committee level for additional hearing.

"The Committee (on Rules) hereby rules that there are no longer any obstacles to the return of the Committee Report No. 120 on the Mamasapano incident," Committee on Rules chair Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said.

On November 2015, Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile and Vicente "Tito" Sotto III earlier filed a motion to reopen the investigation of the Mamasapano incident.

Enrile said he wants to reopen the investigation at the committee level to ask questions regarding the government's actions during the encounter between the Special Action Force and Moro rebels a year ago.

He was detained when the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted the Mamasapano probe early last year. Sen. Grace Poe, who heads the committee, agreed with Enrile's petition.

FULL TEXT: Senate panel's report on Mamasapano clash

The Senate Committee on Rules is set to reopen the investigation "without voiding the previous proceedings."

READ MORE...

"If Committee Report No. 120 is returned to the relevant Senate committees with an assertion that there are new matters arising after the report, all previous proceedings subsist and are valid," Cayetano said.

Sens. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Sergio Osmeña III have earlier expressed support for Enrile's motion to reopen the Senate probe on the Mamasapano incident.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has set another hearing on the criminal charges against 90 commanders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups tagged in the death of 44 SAF commandos.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Enrile info prompts new Mamasapano inquiry - SENATE HEARING SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 25 By: Christine O. Avendaño, Leila B. Salaverria, Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 AM January 6th, 2016


ENRILE GETS WISH Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile’s request for the reopening of the Senate investigation of the Mamasapano debacle has been granted. A new hearing will be conducted on Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the bloody encounters between police commandos and Moro rebels. EDWIN BACASMAS

ON THE REQUEST of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, the Senate will mark the first anniversary of the Mamasapano debacle by reopening its investigation to tackle “possibly new evidence” on the bloody clashes between police commandos and Moro fighters and members of private armed groups.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the public order committee that led the inquiry, Tuesday said an additional hearing would be conducted on the morning of Jan. 25.

The hearing will be held exactly one year after the counterterrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, led to the killing of Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and the deaths of 44 elite police operatives, 17 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and three civilians.

The Senate rules committee, chaired by Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, recently said there were no longer obstacles to the return of the Mamasapano report to the committees for the conduct of hearings without voiding the previous proceedings.

The ruling of Cayetano’s committee also said that whenever a fellow senator asserted that he or she had new matters to raise, “then the body will take in good faith that there are indeed new matters.”

“This considers not only to the assertion of the movant, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, but also the opinion expressed by Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the primary committee, that Senator Enrile has in his possession ‘new matters and perspectives,’ and she interposes no objections to the motion,” the committee said.

The clashes came after then PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, ignored ceasefire mechanisms between the government and the MILF.

Fallout

The fallout from the otherwise successful counterterrorism operation derailed the peace process between the government and the MILF, endangering the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law whose fate in Congress continues to hang in the balance.

The massacre also dealt the biggest blow to President Aquino’s popularity, with his numbers dropping to an all-time low after the debacle.

The Senate report on Mamasapano called the killing of the 44 SAF troopers a “massacre” and found the President ultimately responsible for the debacle. It recommended charges against MILF members and police officials.

“It’s good that the rules committee gave a go-signal that additional hearings can be called in response to Minority Leader [Juan Ponce] Enrile’s request to call such, citing his personal information and possibly new evidence,” Poe said.

She reiterated her manifestation that the new hearings would not affect or void the earlier findings of the Senate committees that conducted the probe. Twenty-one members signed their report.

“There is always space if there is new evidence,” she said.

Put closure

Last November, Enrile asked that the Mamasapano issue be reopened at the committee level because he wanted to ask more questions in order to put closure to the issue, particularly about what the government was actually doing when the encounter between police commandos and Moro rebels were taking place.


PRESIDENT’S GUARDS President Aquino troops the line of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the 29th anniversary of the PSG at Malacañang Park. In a speech, he hit back at critics demanding accountability over the deaths of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, calling them “attention seekers.” GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE INQUIRER FILE MARCH 11, 2015

Enrile was detained at PNP General Hospital for plunder in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam when the Senate conducted its inquiry into the Mamasapano incident. He returned to the Senate in August after being granted bail.

In an earlier privilege speech, Enrile recalled that when news of the Mamasapano incident reached him in detention, a lot of questions came to mind about its tragic end.

Palace silence ominous

“In those critical moments when the battle was apparently going on, I recall no word was uttered from the Palace, from the AFP, and from the PNP,” he said.

Enrile described the silence as ominous. “Was there a government paralysis during those tense moments?” he asked.
During the interpellation of his privilege speech last October where he sought for the reopening of the inquiry at the committee level, Enrile disclosed his having met the SAF survivors at the PNP hospital.

He said that he learned about the “gruesome slaughter” of the police commandos on Jan. 28 last year and that a few days later the survivors were brought to the PNP hospital. “They stayed with me in that building for quite some time.”
Frightening

“I had several personal encounters with them and their families. These were occasions too for me to talk to some of them, and they related their frightening recollections of the bloody massacre,” Enrile said.

He also said the survivors and dependents had told him of “their resentment and disenchantment as it seemed to some of them that the death of the SAF 44 was now largely exploited to serve political ends, some for political propaganda.”

Enrile said he promised the survivors to bring up their case in the Senate should he return there.

In an interview, Sen. Vicente Sotto III said Enrile wanted to take up these issues because the story of what had happened there was not yet complete.

Sotto underscored the need to find out if there was new information on the incident and lessons to be learned. “I don’t think the intent is to find fault but to complete the entire picture.”

‘Alternative’ version

Last September, the President rekindled interest in the issue by saying there was an “alternative” version of what had transpired in Mamasapano.

Mr. Aquino also mentioned a picture that came out on the Inquirer’s front page that he said “posed so many questions, and that is what we want to resolve.” He added that he did not want to talk too deeply about the specifics as it might hamper efforts to get to the complete truth.

The President’s statement gave rise to speculations that the SAF members did not kill Marwan, but the President later tamped this down and said there was no doubt that the commandos had killed and cut off the finger of the terrorist.

Marwan’s finger was used for DNA testing conducted by the United States, which had a multimillion-dollar bounty for the Malaysian terrorist.

Malacañang on Tuesday said it recognized the mandate of the Senate to reopen its investigation into the Mamasapano debacle, pointing out the separation of powers between the executive and legislative, even as the President had put closure to the controversial police counterterrorism operation several times.

“We recognize that part of the Senate’s mandate is to conduct investigations in aid of legislation and as part of its oversight functions,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said when sought for comment.


MANILA STANDARD

‘No more probes’ - PNoy’s House allies reject SAF 44 quiz resumption posted January 07, 2016 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz and Sandy Araneta


Rep. Jerry Treñas

CONGRESSIONAL allies of President Benigno Aquino III rejected Wednesday the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation authorized by the Palace, calling it a waste of time and a political gimmick.

Reps. Jerry Trenas of Iloilo and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela said there is very little time left for lawmakers before the May elections and the closing of the 16th Congress in June, so it was better for both the House and the Senate to stay focused on their legislative function.

Trenas said that this move to resurrect the issue is obviously a ploy to discredit the Aquino administration and weaken the President’s chosen candidates.

“Stop flogging a dead horse. We have to move on and let the lessons of Mamasapano guide us for the future. Re-opening this Mamasapano issue for the purpose of politicking is the highest form of disrespect and dishonor on the memories of our fallen policemen,” Trenas, vice chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said.

Trenas said that Congress is not a judicial body and all of its investigations are only for the purpose of creating legislation that may prevent incidents like the Mamasapano encounter from happening in the future.

“Clearly, the purpose of this move to reopen the Mamasapano issue on the basis of alleged new evidence related to the incident is nothing more than a political gimmickry. They want to squeeze this issue dry and pin down the Aquino administration,” Trenas said.

Albano agreed that reopening any case in the event of a new evidence is the work of judicial bodies and not Congress.

“We should keep focused on our legislative work. We may not have the luxury of time to attend to reopening of investigations on issues such as the Mamasapano,” Albano said.

Trenas tagged as “overacting” the effort to reopen the Mamasapano probe.

“Instead of re-opening a Senate probe on this Mamasapano raid, Congress should already start crafting measures that provides more government support for policemen and soldiers who are killed in the line of duty,” Trenas said.

One measure that should be passed is a proposal that would increase the combat pay of uniformed personnel and salaries for soldiers and policemen who are assigned in high-risk areas, Trenas said.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. added that reopening the Mamasapano probe in Congress would “adversely affect” the criminal cases filed against those responsible for the massacre.

“The reopening of the Mamasapano probe will only create confusion among the public. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate had already conducted extensive investigations into the matter then,” Barzaga said, adding that the Senate had already made its findings public.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz shared a similar view.

“The reopening will only exacerbate the situation as we will again be treated to the same old tricks,” he said, adding that it was another opportunity for cover-ups.

READ MORE...

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano welcomed a reopening of the investigation, but said the timing was suspect because the elections were drawing near.

“We cannot really hide the fact that the reopening of the investigation on the Mamasapano incident will have political implications because of the May elections,” Alejano said.

The Palace on Wednesday declined to comment on moves to reopen the Mamasapano investigation, saying only that it was the prerogative belonged to Congress.

“The decision to open it is clearly a legislative decision.... We do not wish to impute any motivation on the reopening,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe has set the re-opening of the Mamasapano inquiry on Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the massacre of 44 commandos of the Special Action Force by Muslim rebels in Maguindanao.

Critics said this was Poe’s way of getting even with the administration, which she accuses of being behind the disqualification cases filed against her.

“Senator Grace Poe already has a report made, but this has not been voted on yet on the floor of the Senate. So we do not wish to impute any motivation in this,” Lacierda added.

Lacierda also said they do not know what Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was talking about when he mentioned new evidence about the massacre.

“There’s nothing that we can comment right now until the investigation has been reopened,” he said, adding that the concerns about assistance for the SAF 44 have all been addressed.

“For privacy concerns, we do not wish to [make public the help given to them],” he said.


MANILA STANDARD

Poe insists PNoy was responsible posted January 08, 2016 at 12:01 am by Macon Ramos-Araneta and Francisco Tuyay


Sen. Grace Poe

SENATOR Grace Poe said Thursday she would not change her committee report on the 2015 Mamasapano massacre, which found President Benigno Aquino III “ultimately responsible” for the death of 44 police commandos unless new evidence is presented during the reopening of Senate investigation.

The Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, which Poe chairs, and the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation led by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, will reconvene on Jan. 27 to hear any new information or evidence in the case.

In an interview Thursday, Poe said she stand by the findings of her committee report, which were based on five public hearings, five executive sessions and 73 hours of full discussion attended by 37 resource persons, and 4,300 documents.

“I am confident with our committee hearings. If there is no new evidence, I will not change the orderly, just and impartial committee report,” Poe said.

In the report, Poe said the President must bear responsibility for giving consent to and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions by then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima in connection with Oplan Exodus, the ill-fated Mamasapano operation.

“He assented to Purisima’s unlawful exercise of official functions, particularly the latter’s “usurpation of authority or official functions. The President relied on and directly coordinated with the suspended PNP Chief, as it was shown that he continued to communicate with the latter on Oplan Exodus, based on testimonies and evidence presented in the public hearings,” said Poe in her draft report on the Mamasapano incident.


FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

Oplan Exodus was the covert police operation to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his henchman, bomb maker Basit Usman.

A copy of the draft report was submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, which recommended to the Sandiganbayan the filing of charges against certain people. However, the President was not among them.

While Poe said there is strong evidence that the President consented to the participation of an officer who was suspended for corruption, she also acknowledged that “sometimes, legal implications, if the lawyers are good and the personalities are known, can easily get off the hook.”

The reopening of the Senate inquiry came after Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said he was unable to ask key questions during the hearings because he was detained at the time on plunder charges.

In his manifestation, Enrile cited the “critical period” of two days after the massacre in which the government failed to act.

“What happened to the government? Was it functioning? Was it in paralysis? Why was there a complete silence during this critical period? What happened to the entire instrument of government to maintain order in this country to protect the people? Was there a government in those moments?” said the 91-year-old senator.

He said he wanted answers to these questions because the government must serve the people with no interregnum.

“It must function every minute, every second of the day, of the week, of the month, of the year,” also said Enrile who was jailed at the PNP Custodian Center after being charged with plunder over the pork barrel scam.

Poe said they have yet to release a list of resource persons to be invited when the committee reconvenes on Jan. 25, exactly a year after members of the PNP Special Action Force were killed by Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

She said they still waiting for a list from the senators, especially from Enrile, on the guests that should be called to the hearing.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon expressed hope the reopening of the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano incident will not hamper the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and the other legislative agenda.

“If reopening the Mamasapano will allow our esteemed colleague Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to ask questions that he deemed are important to ferret out the truth, then we support it,” Drilon said.

“We still have many proposed legislation to discuss and work on such as the BBL and the proposed salary hike for public sector workers, so I am hopeful that reopening the Mamasapano probe will not draw time, attention and energies away from our lawmaking duties,” Drilon said.


DRILON

The Senate leader also expressed concerns that the passage of the BBL may again be put in peril due to the issues surrounding the Mamasapano incident.

READ MORE...

He noted that the Mamasapano incident had created an immense political storm that seriously affected the peace process.

While Drilon gave assurance that the passage of the BBL will be the Senate’s top priority, he hoped that the ceasefire between the government and the MILF will continue to hold even if the current Congress fails to pass the bill.

He said peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF must continue to hold even if the 16th Congress runs out of time to pass the proposed Bangsamoro organic law.

Also on Thursday, the former chief of the SAF, Getulio Napeñas, slammed the President for blaming him for the death of the 44 police commandos, and denied Aquino’s suggestion that this was due to poor planning and execution.

“We’ve been running after Marwan for five years, then the government—including the President—will say we had poor planning and execution?” Napeñas said in Filipino in a radio interview.

Napeñas said he welcomed Enrile’s call to reopen the Senate investigation.

“If the planning and execution were poor, why did we accomplish our mission?” he said. “We reached our target without detection and compromise. My men were already withdrawing when elements of the MILF and BIFF fired at them, sparking a firefight,” Napeñas said.

President Aquino relieved Napeñas two days after the incident and blamed the mission leaders for failing to coordinate their actions with the military.

At a Board of Inquiry report said Aquino was culpable for the Mamasapano debacle, but the Palace blamed Napeñas and Purisima instead.

Napeñas said he was ready to answer any of Enrile’s questions.


Director Getulio Napeñas INQUIRER  FILE PHOTO

“I believe that Enrile would not manifest for the reopening of the case if he had no basis for it,” Napenas said. “There were a lot of questions that weren’t answered.”

The leader of the independent minority bloc in the House, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, urged the government to speed up the resolution of cases filed against those responsible for the Mamasapano killings.

Romualdez, a senatorial candidate, said he hoped that as the country marks the anniversary of the Jan. 25 massacre, the families of those slain would finally get justice for the SAF 44.

The Palace on Thursday said it has always been honest and truthful during testiony before the Senate.

“In all instances, our government has been honest and truthful,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

“They have answered all questions, and President Aquino himself has several times faced the nation in order to answer all the questions,” Coloma said.

“Most recently, in September, he himself said there was new information which he wanted to know, and within the same week, this was discussed,” said Coloma.

Congressional allies of the President rejected Wednesday the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano debacle, calling it a waste of time and a political gimmick. With Sandy Araneta


PHILSTAR

Aquino cites 'politics' in Mamasapano probe reopening (philstar.com) | Updated January 8, 2016 - 5:10pm 0 26 googleplus0 0


President Aquino looks up at flying jets as he leads the flag-raising ceremony or the commemoration of the 119th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Filipino hero Jose Rizal at the Rizal National Monument in Rizal Park, Manila City on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. Malacañang Photo Bureau / Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III criticized on Friday the move to reopen the Senate investigation into the killing of police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, citing politics and publicity as motives.

In an interview with reporters in Davao City, Aquino alluded to the administration's political rivals whom he says pushed for the resumption of the probe in an attempt to implicate him in the tragedy.

"I think with all these occurrences, I can see the big role of politics," Aquino said after the inauguration of the 300-megawatt Davao Baseload Power Plant in Toril town.

"Perhaps, we should not forget who pushed for it, maybe we can understand, most likely ill feelings towards my administration," he added.

A total of 44 elite police officers were killed in an encounter with members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and armed groups in an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano in January last year. Aquino was tagged as among those who ordered the botched mission to arrest international terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his cohort Basit Usman.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, charged with plunder for the pork barrel scam, requested the reopening of the inquiry, the first of which was held in January 2015. The 91-year-old Enrile was in detention when the Senate conducted in February last year.

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Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee of public order and a presidential candidate running against administration bet Manuel Roxas II, agreed with Enrile's request and set another round of inquiry into the incident on January 25, the first anniversary of the 44 SAF commandos' deaths.

Aquino dismissed the move as an opportunity as added publicity for those behind the inquiry.

"We all know that the campaign period is coming soon. Among our opponents, they see that this has been the greatest burden I have had since I took office. Perhaps, they are trying to take this opportunity," Aquino said.

RELATED: Palace on Mamasapano reopening: What's new?

The president also expressed disappointment that the probe is set on the same day as the birthday of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

"As president and father of this nation, I can't let my emotions take over here... [but] it's like they are insisting that you must suffer here. Now, there is a saying, we can see it in the teachings of the church that I belong to, in the Bible, 'The truth shall set us all free'," Aquino said.

The president, however, also said another leg in the investigation may provide a more complete picture on the incident. — Camille Diola

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino sees politics in probe -ENRILE HAS AX TO GRIND AGAINST ME–AQUINO By: Nikko Dizon and Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:09 AM January 9th, 2016


DURING HAPPIER TIMES. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and President Benigno Aquino III during the signing of the Sin Tax Law in 2012. Back then, Enrile was Senate President. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday blamed politics for the Senate decision to reopen an investigation into the Mamasapano clash, saying Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who had asked for the new probe, had an ax to grind against his administration.

The investigation by the Senate public order committee found that President Aquino was ultimately responsible for the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) counterterrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25, 2015, that left 44 police commandos, 17 Moro rebels and three civilians dead.

READ: Enrile seeks reopening of Mamasapano probe

The SAF commandos killed their target, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” but the clash set back the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Senate probe will be reopened on Jan. 25 to tackle “possibly new evidence” that Enrile claimed he had.
The new probe will be held exactly a year after the debacle that brought Mr. Aquino’s ratings to their lowest since he assumed office in 2010.

Grudge vs administration

“I think in all of these, we can see that politics is a major thing. Let us not forget the proponent of this [new investigation]. Perhaps, we will understand, most likely he has a grudge against my administration,” Mr. Aquino told reporters.

READ: Aquino wants SC ruling on Enrile bail studied

The President did not name Enrile, but it was the Senate minority leader who proposed a new probe, which was approved earlier this week.

Enrile, one of the founders of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), whose presidential candidate in May’s general elections is Vice President Jejomar Binay, is under trial for graft and plunder for his alleged role in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Binay and Sen. Grace Poe, an independent presidential candidate and chair of the Senate public order committee that investigated the Mamasapano clash, are leading Mr. Aquino’s chosen candidate, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in voter preference polls.

Poe, who has agreed to reopen the Mamasapano probe, is fighting in the Supreme Court to stay in the race after the Commission on Elections decided to disqualify her on questions of her citizenship and Philippine residency that have been brought by detractors who she believes are working for her rivals.

Enrile had been detained for more than a year at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City, but was released in August last year after being allowed bail by the Supreme Court.

READ: Enrile returns to Senate

Reopening of probe

In October last year, he asked the Senate to reopen the Mamasapano investigation, saying he had questions to ask at a new probe based on information he received from survivors of the clash whom he had met in the police hospital.

He said the new probe would bring closure for the survivors and the families of the 44 slain SAF commandos.

“We know that the campaign period is near. My critics saw that [Mamasapano] was the worst incident to hit me since I assumed office. Of course, as President and father of the nation, I cannot be emotional when it comes to this issue. Jan. 25 is the birthday of my mother and the first anniversary of Mamasapano. It’s like they want to ensure I will have a hard time,” Mr. Aquino said, adding “the truth shall set us all free.”


President Aquino delivers his second nationwide address on the bungled Mamasapano operation that cost the lives of 44 police combatants last night, highlighted by his acceptance of the resignation of his trusted Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Alan L.M. Purisima (right), and his call on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to ‘surrender’ or help capture terrorist Basit Usman. Aquino said: ‘From then, until today, Alan and I have gone through so much’ and that it was ‘painful that he (Purisima) will leave.’ (Richard V. Viñas) ALL PINOY NEWS ONLINE FEBRUARY 6, 2015

Mr. Aquino noted that the committee report on the Mamasapano probe is not yet a Senate report, as the Senate has yet to tackle it in the plenary and vote on it.

“So this would be a good opportunity to complete the picture on what happened in Mamasapano and put on record what is right,” he said.

Insult to Poe

The President also took a swipe at Poe, who had refused to be Roxas’ running mate to make an independent run for Malacañang.

“When I was a senator [and a congressman], I was taught that one of the biggest insults to a committee head and the members of the committee is for the committee report to be recommitted, or returned, to those who had written it. [I was told] that it’s like saying your [report] is wrong, that’s why it is being returned to you,” Mr. Aquino said.

“So I asked, have things changed in the Senate? I was told by Senate President (Franklin Drilon) that the committee chair did not refuse [Enrile’s request], that’s why the [Mamasapano report] was returned to the committee. If the committee chair refused, the plenary would vote [to determine whether to return the report to the committee],” he said.

Poe, speaking at a news conference in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur province, on Friday, said the reopening of the investigation was not her personal decision but was decided in deference to Enrile.

She said she was never interested in reopening the probe, but because Enrile’s request was supported by other senators, she agreed to reopen it.

Poe said the hearings would seek fresh information, such as whether charges had been filed against those responsible for the deaths of the 44 SAF commandos and whether their families had already received the benefits the government had promised to give them.

The Department of Justice decided on Dec. 17 to resolve direct assault and murder charges against 84 of 90 MILF fighters accused of killing the 44 commandos. The 84 men failed to appear at the investigation of the Mamasapano clash. The rest were represented by lawyers or submitted statements denying any role in the gun battle.

Undelivered promises

Merlyn Gamutan, wife of slain Senior Insp. Joey Gamutan, said only half of the promised support from the National Housing Authority had been released to her family. She said there had been no word about the support promised by the National Police Commission.

“My daughter goes to a Catholic school [in Pagadian] and her admission there was dependent on a commitment made by (Zamboanga) Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz. So far, other cash benefits, such as those intended for livelihood, are still awaiting approval of President Aquino,” Gamutan said.

Marilyn Tayros, sister of slain Chief Insp. Reiner Tayros, said many pledges remains undelivered.

She said the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Social Welfare and Development had yet to make good on their promises to the families of the slain commandos.

Tayros said the families preferred the filing of charges against the killers to a reopening of the investigation.

“We hope they are not using the SAF 44 and the Mamasapano [clash] for [political reasons],” she said.

Sen. Francis Escudero, Poe’s running mate, said the Senate investigation found President Aquino ultimately responsible for the SAF operation, but whatever liability he had—whether administrative, criminal or civil—was up to the courts to decide.

No grandstanding

In a statement she issued on Friday, Poe said she would not allow the reopening of the Mamasapano investigation to be used as a venue for political grandstanding.

Neither would she use it to put her political rivals in a bad light, she said.

Poe said she would just moderate the proceedings and would not grill Roxas, head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government at the time of the Mamasapano clash.

She also said she did not want a confrontation between the police and the military at the investigation.

“They just need to answer the questions truthfully and to say what benefits have been given to those left behind by the heroic SAF 44,” she said.

Poe said there was no reason for her committee not to tackle any new information, whether it came from the opposition or from the administration.

“According to Senator Enrile, he has many questions to ask because he was not there at the time,” she said.

She said, however, that she was not aware of any new information about the Mamasapano clash.

The new investigation will not affect or void the committee report that has been signed by 21 senators, she said. With a report from Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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INQUIRER

Roxas on Mamasapano probe: ‘I have nothing to hide’ By: Nestor Corrales @NCorralesINQ
INQUIRER.net 02:34 PM January 9th, 2016


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

“I have nothing to hide.”
Such was the statement of former Interior Secretary and Liberal Party’s standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, saying he would attend the reopening of the Mamasapano probe at the Senate if invited.

“E wala naman tayong itinatago at kung ano man ang nais nilang tanungin ay wala namang problema,” Roxas told reporters in an interview in Romblon on Saturday.

(I have nothing to hide and whatever they want to ask, there won’t be any problem.)

“Hindi ako aatras sa kahit na anong imbestigasyon at ako ay para sa hayag na pagtingin sa lahat ng mga bagay,” he added.
(I won’t back out in any investigation and I am open to looking into different angles.)

Despite the series of investigation conducted by the Senate, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police (PNP), Roxas said he was willing to answer questions, which could have been left unanswered in previous investigations.

“So kung meron pang hindi naitanong e di bukas tayong tumulong, kung ipapatawag tayo para sagutin lahat ng itong mga katanungan,” he said.
(If there were questions unasked, I am open to help if I would be called to answer all these questions.)

Last January 5, presidential aspirant and Senator Grace Poe said the Senate would reopen the investigation on the Mamasapano incident.

READ MORE...

The Mamasapano operation, executed last January 25, 2015, resulted in the death of more than 60 people, including 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force.

According to a report read by Poe, chair of the senate committee on public order, in a press conference last March, President Benigno Aquino III was “ultimately responsible” for the Mamasapano tragedy.

Despite being bypassed, Roxas defended Aquino and cleared the President of any liability over the tragic police operation contrary to the findings of the Senate investigation.

On Friday, Aquino blamed politics for the Senate decision to reopen the probe on Mamasapano tragedy.

READ: Alluding to Poe, Aquino cites ‘politics,’ ‘ill feelings’ amid Mamasapano probe reopening

The President hinted at his political rivals who he said was trying to discredit him and rest of his administration ahead of the 2016 elections.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile had earlier asked the Senate committee handling the investigation to reopen the probe for “possibly new evidence.” RAM

READ: Enrile info prompts new Mamasapano inquiry

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RELATED FROM INQUIRER MINDANAO

SAF 44 families welcome reopening of probe into Mamasapano carnage January 5, 2016 Latest News 10 Views Inquirer Mindanao By: Julie S. Alipala, January 6th, 2016 08:31 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Some families of the 44 Special Action Force commandos slain in an encounter with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindano, on Jan. 25, 2015, welcomed the reopening of the Senate inquiry on the carnage.

“We must not forget that there was an incident like this where 44 police personnel sacrificed their lives and it took hours before help arrived,” Merlyn Gamutan, widow of Senior Insp. Joey Gamutan, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Gamutan said any probe related to the Mamasapano encounter and the SAF 44 “is a welcome move.”

“Mag-aalala kami kung tuluyan na itong makalimutan (We would be worried if this is totally forgotten),” she said.

Marilyn Tayros, sister of Chief Insp. Reiner Tayros, expressed hope the reopening of the Senate inquiry would have “nothing to do with politics.”

“Malapit na kasi ang eleksyon (The elections are fast approaching),” Tayros said.

Tayros appealed to the senators handling the inquiry “not to spare anybody and not to be influenced by politics.” SFM


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