NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

AQUINO's LENTEN MESSAGE: "CHRIST'S HUMILITY, SACRIFICE HIS GUIDE TO GOVERNANCE"
(After Mamasapano, Noy wants to reflect on humility, selflessness this Lent; Aquino claimed that Christ's humility and sacrifice serve as his guide in governance.)


President Benigno Aquino III calls on “independent convenors” to lead a National Peace Summit in reviewing and objectively discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a national address at the Kalayaan Hall of the Malacañang Palace on Friday, March 27. Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau 
Amid criticisms that he is only trying to save himself in the Mamasapano debacle, President Benigno Aquino III is urging the nation to reflect on Christ's humility and selfless sacrifice this Lenten season. In his Lenten message released on Monday, Aquino said Filipino Christians should reflect on how Christ suffered on the cross to save mankind from sin. "Isipin po ninyo: Sa kabila ng lubos na kapangyarihang iligtas ang sarili sa kapahamakan, pinili ni Hesukristong magpakumbaba bilang tao, at ialay ang sariling buhay. Pinasan niya ang matinding kalbaryo upang maging bukal ng kaligtasan, at ilapit tayo sa Kaharian ng Diyos-Ama," Aquino said. He claimed that Christ's humility and sacrifice serve as his guide in governance. "Ito nga po ang nagsisilbi nating gabay sa pagtataguyod ng bansang nakatuon hindi lang sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino ngayon kundi maging ng mga susunod pang henerasyon. Tinatawag tayong gawin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, upang maipamana ang isang lipunan na inuuna ang interes ng nakakarami bago ang sarili," the president said. READ MORE...

ALSO President Aquino’s Lenten message: ‘Be truthful not only in words but in works’


President Aquino President Aquino 
As followers of Jesus Christ, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday the Filipino people should be truthful not only with their words but with their works. In his Lenten message, President Aquino said through sharing, unity and guidance and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Filipinos will be blessed with valuable future. READ HIS COMPLETE TEXT MESSAGE...

ALSO: TESDA chief to replace Coloma as Noy spokesman


Villanueva, Coloma
MANILA, Philippines - Several changes in the Cabinet are expected after the Holy Week break, among them Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director Joel Villanueva replacing Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). It was reported that Coloma would be transferred to the Civil Service Commission because former chairman Francisco Duque retired last Feb. 1. Coloma would serve a term of seven years at the CSC. He was named PCOO chief in August 2010 and became one of the presidential spokespersons in October 2013. Sources said President Aquino has signed the appointment papers of Coloma and Villanueva. Coloma, who is in South Korea on vacation, did not respond to the text message asking him about his appointment. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy staying in Manila to monitor typhoon


President Aquino File photo
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will spend Holy Week in Manila as he leads the rest of the government in preparing for a coming typhoon and other possible situations that may occur, Malacañang said yesterday.The President will conduct an inspection of major transport terminals in Batangas and Metro Manila today in time for Filipinos’ exodus to provinces or abroad. “As far as the government is concerned, as far as the President is concerned, all hands are on deck, (as) with any expected or unforeseen situations, incidents that may arise during Holy Week,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday in a press briefing. “The President always makes it a point to inspect terminals to ensure the safety and convenience of our Filipino riding public,” Lacierda said. He recalled that Aquino was supposed to spend a quiet Holy Week last year, but had to hold an emergency meeting with Cabinet members because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) scare. READ MORE...

ALSO: Solons ask Aquino 20 questions; Palace answer: Why are you asking them again? House probers want answers under oath


Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO One for 20. Malacañang on Tuesday addressed only one query to the Makabayan party-list congressmen who had 20 questions for President Benigno Aquino III on the Mamasapano debacle: “Why are you asking them again?”  “If anyone looks at the questions posed by the Makabayan bloc, most of them have been responded [to] one way or the other by the President,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at the regular press briefing in the Palace. He added: “The question is, ‘Why are you asking again?’”  Lacierda surmised that the congressmen raised the questions anew because they wanted the President to say something that would confirm their beliefs about Mamasapano. “Maybe you don’t want the answers the President gave, or you are not satisfied with the President’s statement, or there is a line that you want the President to say,” he said. Nonetheless, Lacierda said President Aquino remains “committed to uncovering the truth” and did not reject the bloc’s questions for him outright. Separation of powers Stressing the concept of separation of powers, Lacierda said it was up to the leadership of the House of Representatives to decide how to question the President in the inquiry into Mamasapano, set for April 6 and 7. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy dodges group’s 20 questions


President Aquino once again evaded answering tough questions listed and asked by the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives regarding the Mamasapano incident, with presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Tuesday claiming that the President had answered most, if not all, of the questions. “If anyone looks at the questions posed by the Makabayan bloc, most of them have been responded one way or the other by the President,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacañang. “The question is: ‘Why you are asking these questions again? Perhaps you’re not… You don’t want the answers the president gave, one reason, or you are not satisfied with the president’s statement or there is a line that you want the president to state, to say,” he said.Lacierda said the Palace would leave it up to the leadership of the House to decide on the 20 questions.Lacierda said since the Makabayan bloc were members of the House of Representatives, “it’s up to them to go through procedures with the House leadership,”  Aquino and his spokesmen certainly know that the House leaders are his puppets and will not grant the leftist bloc in the lower chamber the so-called permission, although there are no rules in the House saying that the congressmen have to first seek the permission of the House leaders to bring out these questions before the panel that will be holding a hearing on the Mamasapano carnage. But Lacierda said: ”I think the processes, the deliberations on the request to the 20 questions should first be addressed to the House leadership,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Noy told: Just answer the questions


Just answer the 20 questions.  The Makabayan bloc of seven party-list representatives made this appeal to President Aquino yesterday after his spokesman claimed the Chief Executive has already answered most of the questions posed by the militant lawmakers regarding the Mamasapano incident. “Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s dismissive generalization that the 20 questions posed by the Makabayan bloc to the President have already been answered is simply not true,” Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, speaking for the group, said. “It highlights yet again Malacañang’s stonewalling, evasiveness and selectivity in disclosing the President’s role in Mamasapano,” he said. For instance, he said the President has not yet explained why he allowed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to take the lead in Oplan Exodus or the mission to arrest three terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed their principal target, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but lost 44 men in ensuing gun battles with guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Twenty questions for the President; Purisima’s involvement raises many other questions.


TWENTY Questions is a traditional parlor game that encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. In the game, one player is designated the answerer and chooses an object but does not reveal it to the others in the game. Players then take turns asking questions answerable by yes or no. If they cannot guess the object by the end of 20 questions, the answerer wins. Given the many unanswered questions surrounding the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed, it is hardly surprising that lawmakers have decided to pose their own set of 20 questions to President Benigno Aquino III, who, along with his good friend, resigned police chief Alan Purisima, was the only high-level official who knew about the covert operation before it went down the tubes. Realizing, perhaps, that the President is unlikely to give a straight yes-or-no answer, they have framed many of their questions in an open-ended way. Like the original parlor game, however, the 20 questions for the President are designed to arrive at the truth by narrowing the field of inquiry with each succeeded question, until the well-guarded truth in Mr. Aquino’s mind is revealed. Eight of the questions deal with the President’s buddy, Purisima, and why Mr. Aquino allowed him to participate in the active planning and execution of the covert operation when he knew that the police chief had already been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman on corruption charges. Did the President (yes or no) knowingly violate the Ombudsman’s suspension order? READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Lenten Message: After Mamasapano, Noy wants to reflect on humility, selflessness this Lent


President Benigno Aquino III calls on “independent convenors” to lead a National Peace Summit in reviewing and objectively discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a national address at the Kalayaan Hall of the Malacañang Palace on Friday, March 27. Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, APRIL 6, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - Amid criticisms that he is only trying to save himself in the Mamasapano debacle, President Benigno Aquino III is urging the nation to reflect on Christ's humility and selfless sacrifice this Lenten season.

In his Lenten message released on Monday, Aquino said Filipino Christians should reflect on how Christ suffered on the cross to save mankind from sin.

"Isipin po ninyo: Sa kabila ng lubos na kapangyarihang iligtas ang sarili sa kapahamakan, pinili ni Hesukristong magpakumbaba bilang tao, at ialay ang sariling buhay. Pinasan niya ang matinding kalbaryo upang maging bukal ng kaligtasan, at ilapit tayo sa Kaharian ng Diyos-Ama," Aquino said.

He claimed that Christ's humility and sacrifice serve as his guide in governance.

"Ito nga po ang nagsisilbi nating gabay sa pagtataguyod ng bansang nakatuon hindi lang sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino ngayon kundi maging ng mga susunod pang henerasyon. Tinatawag tayong gawin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, upang maipamana ang isang lipunan na inuuna ang interes ng nakakarami bago ang sarili," the president said.

READ MORE...
Aquino had this message amid criticisms that he is trying to clear himself of any liability in the Mamasapano debacle by passing all the blame on relieved Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas and resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima.

Aquino had insisted that he was fed the wrong information by the two police officials, preventing him to immediately help the 44 Special Action Force commandos slain on January 25.

In his supposedly final speech on the Mamasapano incident last week, Aquino expressed regret, took "full responsibility" and "humbly" appealed to the nation for "deepest understanding" for the bungled police operation and for his perceived shortcomings.

The president, however, did not give the public apology that various sectors had demanded.

Aquino also said he is just a human who commits mistakes, but he was speaking the truth with God as his witness.

The Mamasapano crisis has pulled down Aquino's approval and trust ratings to their lowest levels. About 79 percent of Filipinos also believe that his explanation regarding the Mamasapano operation is "not enough."

In his Lenten message, Aquino challenged Filipinos to be truthful and be compassionate.

"Ang hamon nga sa atin bilang mga tagasunod ni Hesukristo: Tumotoo tayo hindi lang sa salita, kung hindi sa gawa," he said.


MANILA BULLETIN

President Aquino’s Lenten message: ‘Be truthful not only in words but in works’ by Philippines News Agency March 30, 2015 (updated)


President Aquino President Aquino

As followers of Jesus Christ, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday the Filipino people should be truthful not only with their words but with their works.

In his Lenten message, President Aquino said through sharing, unity and guidance and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Filipinos will be blessed with valuable future.

Here’s the complete text of the President’s message:

Tuwing Semana Santa, hinihimok tayong pagnilayan ang walang-hanggang pagmamahal ng Panginoon, ang pagmamahal na dumaig sa pang-aalipusta, nagwaksi ng tukso, at di-inalintana ang pagdurusa, upang isalba sa kasalanan ang sanlibutan.

Isipin po ninyo: Sa kabila ng lubos na kapangyarihang iligtas ang sarili sa kapahamakan, pinili ni Hesukristong magpakumbaba bilang tao, at ialay ang sariling buhay.

Pinasan niya ang matinding kalbaryo upang maging bukal ng kaligtasan, at ilapit tayo sa Kaharian ng Diyos-Ama.

Ayon nga po sa Aklat ni San Juan, Kapitulo 3, Bersikulo 16: “Gayon na lamang ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa sanlibutan, kaya ibinigay niya ang Kanyang bugtong na Anak, upang ang sinumang sumasampalataya sa Kanya ay hindi mapahamak, kundi magkaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan.”

Ito nga po ang nagsisilbi nating gabay sa pagtataguyod ng bansang nakatuon hindi lang sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino ngayon kundi maging ng mga susunod pang henerasyon.

Tinatawag tayong gawin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, upang maipamana ang isang lipunan na inuuna ang interes ng nakakarami bago ang sarili.

Gaya ng iniwang aral sa atin ni Santo Papa Francisco nang bumisita siya sa ating bansa, nakikita ang bakas ng presensya ng Panginoon sa pag-aalay ng habag at malasakit sa kapwa, lalo na sa mas nangangailangan.

Makakaasa po kayo: Sa tuwid na daan, maigting nating sinusulong ang pagtatakwil sa anumang anyo ng katiwalian upang ihatid ang agarang benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan.

Ang hamon nga sa atin bilang mga tagasunod ni Hesukristo: Tumotoo tayo hindi lang sa salita, kung hindi sa gawa.

Sa patuloy nating ambagan at pagkakaisa, sa gabay at pagmamahal ng Panginoon, tiyak na pagpapalain tayo ng kinabukasang tunay na makabuluhan sa bawat isa.

Isang mapayapa at makabuluhang Mahal na Araw po sa ating lahat.


PHILSTAR

TESDA chief to replace Coloma as Noy spokesman By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 1, 2015 - 12:00am


Villanueva, Coloma

MANILA, Philippines - Several changes in the Cabinet are expected after the Holy Week break, among them Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director Joel Villanueva replacing Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

It was reported that Coloma would be transferred to the Civil Service Commission because former chairman Francisco Duque retired last Feb. 1. Coloma would serve a term of seven years at the CSC. He was named PCOO chief in August 2010 and became one of the presidential spokespersons in October 2013.

Sources said President Aquino has signed the appointment papers of Coloma and Villanueva.

Coloma, who is in South Korea on vacation, did not respond to the text message asking him about his appointment.

READ MORE...
When he celebrated his 62nd birthday last March 28 and hosted a lunch for the Malacañang Press Corps, Coloma was teased that he was probably giving a farewell party.

Coloma joked: “The problem with you guys is you believe your own stories.”

An appointment with tenure after serving Malacañang is considered a “golden parachute” since the term of the President is nearing its end.

Villanueva, who is in Singapore for an anniversary celebration of the evangelical movement Jesus is Lord, did not directly confirm his appointment. He only said “yes, see you” when asked if journalists would be seeing him by next week.

A source said Villanueva has earned praises from the President for his performance at TESDA, especially in creating jobs. A deputy at TESDA is expected to take over once Villanueva transfers to the PCOO.

Meanwhile, presidential sister and television host Kris Aquino disclosed during one of her shows that Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Winston Ginez would be transferred to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Ginez told ABS-CBN News that he does not yet have an inkling as to who would be appointed to fill the vacant posts at the Comelec since several names had been mentioned in reports over the past weeks.


PHILSTAR

Noy staying in Manila to monitor typhoon By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 1, 2015 - 12:00am


President Aquino File photo

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will spend Holy Week in Manila as he leads the rest of the government in preparing for a coming typhoon and other possible situations that may occur, Malacañang said yesterday.

The President will conduct an inspection of major transport terminals in Batangas and Metro Manila today in time for Filipinos’ exodus to provinces or abroad.

“As far as the government is concerned, as far as the President is concerned, all hands are on deck, (as) with any expected or unforeseen situations, incidents that may arise during Holy Week,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday in a press briefing.

“The President always makes it a point to inspect terminals to ensure the safety and convenience of our Filipino riding public,” Lacierda said.

He recalled that Aquino was supposed to spend a quiet Holy Week last year, but had to hold an emergency meeting with Cabinet members because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) scare.

READ MORE...
“There is a possibility of a storm so again, all hands on deck regardless of whether… the entire country is contemplating Holy Week,” Lacierda said.

Typhoon Maysak, to be locally named Chedeng, is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility today and affect the country this weekend.

Lacierda said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is on top of the situation, along with the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“We will be provided timely warnings. At the same time, the NDRRMC is composed of several Cabinet agencies so all of them are informed of the incoming storm and insofar as the roles of each Cabinet agency, they already know what to do,” he said.

He said local government units to be affected have been alerted and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has pre-positioned goods for relief operations.

Meanwhile, the vacation leaves of more than 19,000 police personnel were cancelled this Holy Week.

“This is the right time when we can maximize our policemen to ensure the security of the public,” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Carmelo Valmoria said, noting that they had been on full alert since Saturday.

But Valmoria clarified that the full alert status would be downgraded to a heightened alert status after the Holy Week and if “everything will be fine” next week.

The public can send their complaints to the NCRPO through text at 0915-8888-181, 0999-901-8181 or 0917-8475-757, or through the hotline 838-32-03 or 0999-324-7881.

The 117 hotline also remains active.

Live for others

In his message for the Holy Week, Aquino said he would be joining “fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we pause from our daily lives” to observe Lent.

“This occasion reminds us all of God’s eternal love, and of the reassurance of His promise of salvation and resurrection for all humanity. The underlying message of love, selflessness and sacrifice guides and inspires us all as we strive to create a nation that listens to the voice of the less fortunate, attends to the needs not of the few but the many, and caters to the interests of both present and future generations,” Aquino said. – With Robertzon Ramirez


INQUIRER

Solons ask Aquino 20 questions; Palace answer: Why are you asking them again? House probers want answers under oath Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:33 AM | Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer


Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

One for 20.

Malacañang on Tuesday addressed only one query to the Makabayan party-list congressmen who had 20 questions for President Benigno Aquino III on the Mamasapano debacle:

“Why are you asking them again?”

“If anyone looks at the questions posed by the Makabayan bloc, most of them have been responded [to] one way or the other by the President,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at the regular press briefing in the Palace.

He added: “The question is, ‘Why are you asking again?’”

Lacierda surmised that the congressmen raised the questions anew because they wanted the President to say something that would confirm their beliefs about Mamasapano.

“Maybe you don’t want the answers the President gave, or you are not satisfied with the President’s statement, or there is a line that you want the President to say,” he said.

Nonetheless, Lacierda said President Aquino remains “committed to uncovering the truth” and did not reject the bloc’s questions for him outright.

Separation of powers

Stressing the concept of separation of powers, Lacierda said it was up to the leadership of the House of Representatives to decide how to question the President in the inquiry into Mamasapano, set for April 6 and 7.

Lacierda said he believed a request to question the President should first be submitted to the House leadership and part of the reason for the procedure was to ensure that Mr. Aquino’s answers would be incorporated into official documents.

“And for that reason, there is the commitment to seeking the truth. However, this is a House investigation and therefore it should be in keeping with the House leadership as to the procedure, the manner of eliciting the truth mindful again, and let me emphasize, mindful of the separation of powers and the respect for coequal branches of government,” Lacierda said.

The Makabayan bloc last week submitted its questions for Mr. Aquino to the House committee on public order and safety headed by Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer.

Malacañang recently announced that President Aquino had waived his executive privilege and would furnish a copy of his exchange of text messages with his friend, resigned Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima, should the House investigators require it.

Mr. Aquino has spoken publicly about Mamasapano four times, the last time at the graduation rites at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last week. He said his PNPA speech would be his last statement about Mamasapano, unless congressional investigators would require “further clarification” from him.

SAF mission

Early on Jan. 25, PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos infiltrated into Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, to capture al-Qaida-linked Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and Amin Baco, alias “Jihad,” and their Filipino associate Basit Usman.

The commandos killed Marwan in an exchange of gunfire inside his hut in Tukanalipao village, but Baco and Usman escaped.

As they were withdrawing from Mamasapano, the commandos were ambushed by guerrillas from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Justice for Islamic Movement and armed residents of the town.

Forty-four commandos, 17 MILF guerrillas and three civilians were killed in the daylong gun battle.

No coordination

The SAF did not coordinate the mission with the military and with the MILF, which has signed a peace agreement with the government.

Under the peace deal, law enforcement in MILF communities should be coordinated with a joint government-MILF ceasefire committee to avoid mistaken encounters between government forces and fighters from the Moro group.

The sacked SAF commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, admitted he bypassed the military and the joint ceasefire committee because previous operations for Marwan’s capture that had been through the truce procedures were compromised.

The deaths of the 44 commandos sparked widespread public anger, which led to a delay in the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the prospective charter that would establish a new autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao as provided for in the peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

Most of the questions the Makabayan bloc had for Mr. Aquino were about the participation of Purisima in the SAF operation despite his suspension while under investigation on allegations of graft.

Lacierda stressed that Mr. Aquino has already “stated in a number of occasions” the role of Purisima, recalling that the President had even met with congressmen at the Palace shortly after Mamasapano to tell them his side of the story.

The militant congressmen, however, insist that the President’s story is full of gaps and they want him to answer their questions under oath, as he had been “flip-flopping” about his role in the SAF operation and the orders that he issued as the commandos were battling for their lives in Mamasapano.

US role

The lawmakers also want the President to disclose the extent of the United States’ participation in the operation to capture Marwan, who had a $6-million bounty on his head offered by the US state department.

At least six Americans believed to be from the Joint Speical Operations Task Force-Philippines were seen either with Napeñas at the SAF command post in Shariff Aguak town during the operation or in Mamasapano during the medical evacuations.

The joint task force was disbanded after the Mamasapano debacle.


TRIBUNE

Noy dodges group’s 20 questions; Palace wants House leaders OK to question Aquino  Written by Tribune Wires Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:00 By Joshua L. Labonera and Charlie V. Manalo

President Aquino once again evaded answering tough questions listed and asked by the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives regarding the Mamasapano incident, with presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Tuesday claiming that the President had answered most, if not all, of the questions. “If anyone looks at the questions posed by the Makabayan bloc, most of them have been responded one way or the other by the President,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“The question is: ‘Why you are asking these questions again? Perhaps you’re not… You don’t want the answers the president gave, one reason, or you are not satisfied with the president’s statement or there is a line that you want the president to state, to say,” he said.

Lacierda said the Palace would leave it up to the leadership of the House to decide on the 20 questions.

Lacierda said since the Makabayan bloc were members of the House of Representatives, “it’s up to them to go through procedures with the House leadership,”

Aquino and his spokesmen certainly know that the House leaders are his puppets and will not grant the leftist bloc in the lower chamber the so-called permission, although there are no rules in the House saying that the congressmen have to first seek the permission of the House leaders to bring out these questions before the panel that will be holding a hearing on the Mamasapano carnage.

But Lacierda said: ”I think the processes, the deliberations on the request to the 20 questions should first be addressed to the House leadership,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

The Palace official, however, emphasized the commitment of the President “to uncovering the truth” behind the Mamasapano incident that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers dead.

Yet even as Aquino keeps on claiming that he too, wants the truth to come out, he refuses to come clean with the public and still refuses to answer any questions, whether from the Board of Inquiry, that sent him a letter seeking his statements, or the Senate, where Aquino was also asked for his statements to incorporate these in their separate reports.

Aquino never issued any official statement corresponding to the many questions both the BoI and the Senate wanted.

Moreover, Aquino never deigned to provide the BoI or the Senate his cellphones for forensic examinations, to get at the number of messages sent and to whom.

Lacierda said the President has already stated in a number of occasions of the role played by the President in the Oplan Exodus where the Chief Executive already admitted having full responsibility for the tragedy.

”The President and his spokesmen have already stated in a number of occasions the role,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the President has even explained already the role of then suspended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on the Mamasapano incident.

Even this, the president has not been truthful, as he still has not explained why Purisima, a suspended official, was placed in charge of the covert mission.

”He wants those questions recorded as part of in aid of legislation. Let’s go to the process but what is that process? Let the House leadership determine that process in uncovering (the truth) and in making sure that the statements of the President are also reflected in their House report,” Lacierda said.
The House leadership has approved the resumption of its own inquiry into the Mamasapano incident on April 7 and 8.
”Again, this is a procedure where the House should work itself out, mindful of the separation of powers and the respect for the co-equal branches of government,” Lacierda said.

The Makabayan bloc insisted that the President should be invited to the House probe.

Most of the questions of the Makabayan congressmen were centered on the role of Purisima in the planning and execution of the Oplan Exodus on Jan. 25.

As to the next PNP chief, Lacierda urged the public to just wait for the next announcement of the President for the next PNP chief.

Purisima resigned amid questions on his role in the mission to arrest Zukifli bin Hir ‘alias’ Marwan and Basit Usman despite his preventive suspension slapped by the Ombudsman.

The Makabayan congressmen earlier said they had questions for the president on April 7 and 8 which include:

• Why did you authorize or allow the participation of then PNP Chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus even though you were fully aware that he was already suspended at that time?;

• If he were only an “expert adviser,” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC Espina and AFP Chief of Staff Catapang and that he did not follow said order?;

• Why didn’t you, as the commander-in-chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the SAF, instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?;

• When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF director Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?;

• Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?; and

• What did you and Purisima talk about during the Jan. 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap?

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Independent Minority bloc in the House stated that with the way the President designed the function and style of work of the Peace Council, the new group will serve nothing except to act as the President’s high profile public relations (PR) group aimed at promoting the highly irregular Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

This was how a member of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives described the Peace Council created by Aquino to help promote the BBL.

In a press briefing held at the Infinity Cafe of the Jade Hotel and Suites in Don Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City, Abakada Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said Aquino’s act of creating the Peace Council composed of high profile personalities could actually be an act of desperation following the drastic plunge of his performance and trust rating brought about by the bloody Mamasapano Massacre, of which to date, he has refused to apologize.

The fatal police operation which has brought about public awareness on the BBL regarding its almost one-sided provisions and constitutional infirmities, has resulted in the waning public support on the measure.

Late last week Aquino announced the formation of the Peace Council to be composed of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, former Ambassador Howard Dee and businessman Jaime Zobel.

“They should have done this before they submitted the draft of the BBL to Congress,” dela Cruz said.

The party-list solon also took a dig at the Palace that has been hitting critics of the BBL saying they should read the draft law first before making any negative comment on the proposed measure.

“We will have ask them (Peace Council) first if they are ready to read the BBL. On our part, we have already read that three times that’s why there are a lot of problems surfacing,” said dela Cruz.

The congressman said that if the Peace Council, instead of talking first to both chambers of Congress, brings the issue directly to the people, it would be starting on the wrong foot.

“The issue with the BBL is its constitutional infirmities. And it is Congress which is mandated to craft laws. So, even if the Peace Council brings the issue of the BBL directly to the community, it would not be addressing the specific issues surrounding the BBL, mainly its constitutionality. It would not be addressing anything,” dela Cruz averred.

“It will merely be serving as a big PR group of the Palace,” dela Cruz said.

Another member of the bloc, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said that while they welcome the creation of the Peace Council, he would be grateful if they would also talk to the members of Congress.

“We welcome the creation of this Peace Council. We respect them very much, especially my good friend former Chief Justice Davide,” said Atienza.

“But we are also anticipating talking to them, we want to listen to them, we want to ask questions from them,” said the solon.

“We would be very, very happy to be enlightened,” said Atienza.

Former Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the biggest dilemma facing the Palace is if the members of the Peace Council, whom he described as to be objective leaders as they are, would declare the BBL to be unconstitutional.

“What if the members of the Peace Council will say the BBL is unconstitutional, what would the Palace do then,” said Suarez.

“Apparently, the peace council is his last card,” he said.

The acknowledged leader of the bloc, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez agreed with Suarez’s observation saying the creation of the Peace Council is a manifestation the Palace is abandoning its responsibility over the BBL.

“For me, this is already abdication on the part of the Palace,” said Romualdez.

“Because they have already lost all credibility, they are now asking the Peace Council to do their job,” said the Leyte solon.

Romualdez said the original Peace Panel headed by Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer should have been the ones to defend the BBL as they were the ones who had negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and signed the agreement on behalf of the government.

“It was their duty. It was they who signed it. Now they need another group because they lost their credibility to the public,” said Romuladez.

Dela Cruz said the creation of the Peace Council is a direct insult to Deles and Coronel-Ferrer and that they should immediately tender their resignation.


PHILSTAR

Noy told: Just answer the questions By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 2, 2015 - 12:00am


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Just answer the 20 questions.

The Makabayan bloc of seven party-list representatives made this appeal to President Aquino yesterday after his spokesman claimed the Chief Executive has already answered most of the questions posed by the militant lawmakers regarding the Mamasapano incident.

“Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s dismissive generalization that the 20 questions posed by the Makabayan bloc to the President have already been answered is simply not true,” Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, speaking for the group, said.

“It highlights yet again Malacañang’s stonewalling, evasiveness and selectivity in disclosing the President’s role in Mamasapano,” he said.

For instance, he said the President has not yet explained why he allowed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to take the lead in Oplan Exodus or the mission to arrest three terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed their principal target, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, but lost 44 men in ensuing gun battles with guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

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Two other targets, Amin Baco, also a Malaysian, and Marwan’s Filipino associate Abdul Basit Usman, escaped.

The MILF has claimed it lost 18 men. At least five civilians also died in the fighting.

The President has said Purisima was involved in Oplan Exodus because it was the PNP chief who worked on the SAF mission before the ombudsman suspended him on corruption charges.

Tinio said Aquino’s statement on Jan. 28 that the then PNP chief was involved only up to the time of his suspension was not even accurate. “Has the President ever disclosed to the public what he and Purisima discussed after meeting with then SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas in Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang on Jan. 9?”

On that day, based on testimonies in congressional hearings and on information gathered by the PNP Board of Inquiry (BOI), Purisima, Napeñas and PNP intelligence chief Sr. Supt. Fernando Mendez briefed Aquino on Oplan Exodus.

The President had a one-on-one meeting with Purisima, then already suspended, after the briefing.

Emerging from the meeting, the suspended PNP chief “advised” Napeñas not to inform Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director Leonardo Espina about the SAF mission until it was underway. Purisima told Napeñas he would take care of informing and coordinating Exodus with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.

Napeñas has said he followed his suspended PNP chief’s advice, treating it as an order from Aquino, given the circumstances under which it was given.

The former SAF chief claimed the President approved their “time on target” coordination, particularly with the military, meaning they would inform the AFP when the mission was underway or when their targets had been neutralized.

Aquino has said he ordered Purisima and Napeñas to coordinate with the AFP beforehand, since SAF counted possible enemy forces in the thousands, but that his directive was defied. He did not say if this was given during the Jan. 9 Palace meeting. – Christina Mendez


MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL

Twenty questions for the President, Purisima’s involvement raises many other questions. By Manila Standard Today | Apr. 01, 2015 at 12:01am


TWENTY Questions is a traditional parlor game that encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. In the game, one player is designated the answerer and chooses an object but does not reveal it to the others in the game. Players then take turns asking questions answerable by yes or no. If they cannot guess the object by the end of 20 questions, the answerer wins.

Given the many unanswered questions surrounding the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed, it is hardly surprising that lawmakers have decided to pose their own set of 20 questions to President Benigno Aquino III, who, along with his good friend, resigned police chief Alan Purisima, was the only high-level official who knew about the covert operation before it went down the tubes.

Realizing, perhaps, that the President is unlikely to give a straight yes-or-no answer, they have framed many of their questions in an open-ended way. Like the original parlor game, however, the 20 questions for the President are designed to arrive at the truth by narrowing the field of inquiry with each succeeded question, until the well-guarded truth in Mr. Aquino’s mind is revealed.

Eight of the questions deal with the President’s buddy, Purisima, and why Mr. Aquino allowed him to participate in the active planning and execution of the covert operation when he knew that the police chief had already been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman on corruption charges.

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Did the President (yes or no) knowingly violate the Ombudsman’s suspension order?

Purisima’s involvement raises many other questions.

Why, for example, did the President lie about Purisima’s role on Jan. 25? In a question-and-answer session that day, the President claimed his good friend was involved only until he was suspended in December 2014.

Subsequent testimony before the Senate and even the President’s own statements later reveal this to have been a bald-faced lie.

Why too, if the President wanted the mission commander to coordinate with the Armed Forces, had he simply not picked up the phone and called AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang or brought PNP OIC Leonardo Espina into the mission briefings?

The lawmakers also want to know if the President relied purely on text messages for his information, or had he attempted to call anybody, including Purisima, to get a clearer picture of what was happening in Mamasapano. If he did not, why not?

Why, the lawmakers wanted to know, was there no air support for the Mamasapano operation?

Was the President aware that two helicopters and two planes that could have been used to provide the police commandos with air support were deployed that day in Zamboanga to protect him?

Did the President order the Army to stand down and not come to the aid of the beleaguered police commandos in view of the ongoing peace talks with the Muslim rebels?

The lawmakers from the leftist Makabayan bloc also wanted to know what the role of the United States was in the operation and what the President’s legal basis for getting them involved was.

The lawmakers had wanted the President to answer the questions in person at a hearing before the House, but that is unlikely to happen, given the spirited blocking defense that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and the President’s other lackeys in Congress have mounted to protect him.

But those questions will not go away simply because House leaders refuse to call in the President, who has painted himself into a corner with his lies.

And outraged Filipinos won’t stop at 20 questions to get at the truth that they know he is hiding from them.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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