Mar 302015

Makabayan bloc wants PNoy to attend Mamasapano hearing

Makabayan bloc wants PNoy to attend Mamasapano hearing. House members under the Makabayan bloc on Monday, March 30, present a letter requesting President Benigno Aquino III to attend the House of Representatives’ hearing on the January 25 Mamasapano incident after the Holy Week. Xianne Arcangel

Although House leaders aren’t keen on inviting President Benigno Aquino III to the resumption of the House of Representatives’ hearings on the Mamasapano clash next week, the progressive Makabayan bloc isn’t giving up hope that he will show up and answer the 20 questions its members have prepared for him.

In a letter dated March 30, the seven-member bloc asked Reps. Jeffrey Ferrer and Jim Hataman-Salliman, chairs of the two House committees investigating the bloody Jan. 25 police operation, to invite Aquino to the hearings scheduled on April 7 and 8 to shed light on a number of issues surrounding the incident, such as the extent of the United States’ involvement and his knowledge about the covert police mission.

“In light… of the findings of the Senate committee on public order and the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry, it is necessary for the House of Representatives to investigate further into significant issues raised but not completely resolved by the said bodies… An analysis of both the Senate and BOI reports will lead to the conclusion that it is only the President himself who will be able to shed light on these matters,” the group said.
The progressive bloc is composed of party-list representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate from Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan from Gabriela, Terry Ridon from Kabataan, Fernando Hicap from Anakpawis and Antonio Tinio from ACT-Teachers.

Ferrer chairs the House committee on public order and safety while Hataman-Salliman heads the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity.

The 20 questions posed by Makabayan bloc to the President generally revolve around the following issues: the reason behind Aquino’s decision to allow then-suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima to call the shots in the Mamasapano police operation, details and the rationale of the decisions on the day the mission was carried out on Jan. 25, and the extent of United States’ involvement in the operation.

Invitation a no-go

More than 60 people, including 44 police commandos, were killed in a clash between the Special Action Force (SAF)and various armed groups on Jan. 25, despite existing ceasefire mechanisms between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has earlier ruled out inviting Aquino to the probe, saying the President has already sufficiently explained his role in the police operation.

Ferrer has also thumbed down the prospect of extending an invitation to Aquino to show up at the hearing, but said he will respect the Makabayan bloc’s decision to ask for the President’s presence.

“I will respect their decision if they will be the one to invite the President, but as for the committee on public order and safety, the issue has already been resolved,” he said in a text message.

Although the chances of inviting Aquino to the hearings are slim, Tinio said he is hopeful the President will take the initiative to show up, saying he owes it to the people to answer the lingering questions on the Mamasapano debacle.

He said lawmakers will extend the courtesy accorded to Aquino should he appear at the hearing.

“Kami naman sa House, batid namin ang posisyon ng Pangulo at makatitiyak siya na irerespeto namin ang kanyang posisyon bilang Presidente at Chief Executive kung siya ay pupunta upang sagutin ang aming mga katanungan,” Tinio said.

20 questions

The questions which the Makabayan bloc wants Aquino to answer are the following:

1. 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?

2.  If he were only an “expert adviser,” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC [Deputy Director General Leonardo] Espina and AFP Chief of Staff [General Gregorio Pio] Catapang and that he did not follow said order?

3.  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?

4.  When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF director [Director Getulio] Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?

5.  Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?

6.  What did you and Purisima talk about during the January 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, “Sabihan mo na ang dalawa [referring to Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Gen. Espina] kapag andun na. Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang”?

7.  How many times did you text Purisima and other officials about the operation on Mamasapano? What are the contents of these messages, if any? Was there an instance that you made voice calls to Purisima and other officials on the matter? We also request for the transcripts of these voice calls.

8.  You said that you were irked at Purisima because you could not make sense of his conflicting texts.  Why did you not call him to clarify matters?  Why did you not call other officials such as Gen. Catapang and AFP generals involved in the rescue or even Sec. Roxas or Gen. Espina to know what was happening?

9.  You were aware of the probability of “pintakasi,” that the SAF troopers will be attacked by any and all armed locals in the area.  Why did you not order coordination with the CCCHH even just hours before the operation was launched?

10. WESTMINCOM Commander [Lt. Gen. Rustico] Guerrero testified that you were getting updates throughout the day at his headquarters in Zamboanga. Who were the officials updating you and what was the information they gave you?

11. With all the updates/information you receive[d] in the morning about the SAF engagements, why did you not get a sense of urgency to mobilize necessary forces and resoruces to reinforce and rescue the SAF commandos?

12.  What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if there were any? Did you issue any pronouncement to them or any one to consider the peace process with the MILF in implementing the rescue operations?

13.  Were you aware that the CCCHH was working towards a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting?  When were you informed of this?

14.  Did you give any orders to stand down?  Did you not give order/s to Catapang and/or Pangilinan not to fire the artillery in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where the 55th SAC were engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?

15.  Why was there no air support during the Mamasapano operation? Were you aware that two helicopters and two airplanes could have provided air support to the SAF were deployed to secure you in Zamboanga?

16.  What can you say about Napeñas’s statement that you left them hanging (“iniwan kami sa ere”) and that this is the highest form of betrayal? Gen. Napeñas claims that the agreement in the Han. 9 meeting was “time on target.” Did you expressly disapprove “time on target coordination” and ordered Director Napeñas to coordinate with the AFP one day or more before the operations?

17.  Why did you say, in response to a question after your first speech on Jan. 28, that Purisima was “involved up to the point in time, directly, that he was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman,” when facts show he was actively involved in the planning and actual execution of Oplan Exodus while suspended?

18.  Why did you allow US intervention – from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the very conduct of the operation and the subsequent evacuation, as is obvious from the presence of six Americans at the tactical command post? Why did you find it necessary to work with the US, but not with DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, PNP [OIC Director General] Espina or AFP Chief Gen. Catapang?

19.  What is your legal basis for allowing this intervention by the US military in a PNP   law enforcement operation – a purely internal matter – even though this is not covered by the MDT, VFA, and EDCA?

20. What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in the Mamasapano operations? —KBK, GMA News

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