Aquino may be called to face proposed Mamasapano inquiry
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III may be called to face an independent truth commission proposed by lawmakers to probe the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
At least three senators and three members of the House of Representatives faced a joint press conference at the Senate on Monday to announce their plan to file bills creating the truth commission.
“We are here today to announce that we are going to file this afternoon a bill creating the truth commission that will probe the Mamasapano incident,” Senator Teofisto Guingona III said.
Guingona said the members of the commission will be appointed by Aquino, who was said to have knowledge about the fatal PNP-SAF operation to arrest two suspected international terrorists.
Asked if the commission would be given the power to invite the President himself to face its investigation, Guingona said: “ They can invite the President , definitely.”
“I’m sure that the President will accede because we have faith in his leadership,” the senator added.
He said there was no need to compel Aquino as he expressed confidence that the latter would also back the creation of the truth commission.
The President’s cousin, Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, also backs the bill but clarified that the proposed commission will not serve as a court that will decide and impose penalties.
“We are not forming a court that will decide on penalties. This is a fact-finding commission,” Senator Aquino said in the same press conference.
“This is really to ferret out the truth, to find the truth and to be able to make necessary recommendations when they finish they report,” Aquino added.
“What happened in Mamasapano is a tragic incident but it also calls for answers to very difficult questions, questions that strike at the very core principle of any peace agreement. Peace, trust, because without trust, why bother with a peace agreement?” Guingona said.
“To regain the public’s trust, we need a credible independent commission that will look for the the truth,” he said.
Guingona said he was able to talk to Erica Pabalinas, widow of Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas, who spoke at the necrological services for the fallen SAF members.
“She asked for justice. Justice not only for our fallen heroes but justice for everyone and we can only give justice if we can find the truth through an independent credible truth commission,” Guingona said.
Aside from Guingona and Aquino, Senator Aqulino “Koko” Aquino III will also sign as co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate.
Amin party-list Representative Sitti Turabin-Hataman said they would also file a similar bill in the House of Representatives this Monday afternoon to back the creation of the commission.
“We are supporting the call for an independent truth commission. We have to know the truth first for us to be able to truly give justice to all the victims of the Mamasapano incident,” Hataman said.
“We are one with the people in the call for truth, justice and peace. And we hope that the truth commission which will be created will be able to address the clamor of the people for a truly credible truth commission,” she added.
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