Senate panels studying Iqbal’s request for executive session | Inquirer News

Senate panels studying Iqbal’s request for executive session

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 11:38 AM February 11, 2015

MANILA, Philippines — The three committees in the Senate investigating the Mamasapano incident will decide in their next hearing whether or not to grant the request of Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), for an executive session of his testimony, Senator Grace Poe said on Wednesday.

Poe heads the Senate committee on public order, which is taking the lead on the Mamasapano hearing along with the committees on peace, unification and reconciliation, and finance. The third hearing of the three panels will resume on Thursday.

“His (Igbal’s) invitation still stands. We will decide on the next hearing based on the topics. We will discuss if it warrants an executive session,” Poe said in a text message.


“Even if we have one, however, the committee may still decide to release certain information discussed if we feel it does not threaten national security,” she added.


In a letter to Poe dated February 10, Iqbal requested that his appearance “should be in an executive session.”

The request was immediately met with criticisms by some senators like Senator Pia Cayetano, who expressed her “concern” during Tuesday’s hearing of the committees.

“These members of the armed forces, and of the PNP (Philippine National Police), and of the Cabinet who have come here voluntarily, have basically shown the whole world our faults, our shortcomings, have been criticized in public. Personal ‘yan sa kanila dahil (It’s personal to them because) these are titles, these are rankings that they have worked for, and they allow themselves to be criticized, to be questioned by non-military personnel such as me, for which I thank you [for]. And yet, their counterpart, the MILF, will be questioned in private? Parang hindi ho tama ‘yon (It doesn’t feel right),” Cayetano said.

“Hindi ho tama na lahat ng tanong, lahat ng pagsisisi nababaling po sa mga opisyal natin, dahil sila po ay nagbigay-galang sa ating committee. Hindi ho tama ‘yun. So ‘yun ho ang aking nais iparating sa committee na ito, na iparating din ng ating peace panel, ng ating negotiator, that it is not fair. This is not fair playing ground, even now. It was not fair on the field, and it is not fair now. This is not how we proceed,” she further said.

(It’s not right that all the questions, all the blame are directed to our officials just because they paid their respect to our committees. That is not right. So I want this committee to make it known to the peace panel, our negotiators, that it is not fair. This is not fair playing ground, even now. It was not fair on the field, and it is not fair now. This is not how we proceed .)

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the committee on finance, was also cold on Iqbal’s request, saying the latter should justify the need for an executive session when he finally appears before the hearing.


“Executive session is kung may state secrets na ire-reveal. Hindi naman sila bahagi pa ng state. Anong secret at hindi pwedeng sabihin? Ngayon kung may talagang ayaw silang sabihin, huwag nilang sabihin,” Escudero said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.

(An executive session (is only necessary) when they have state secrets to reveal. But they are not part of the state yet. What secret are they keeping that they can’t divulge? Now, if they don’t want to divulge it, they don’t have to.)

“Ano, para hindi marinig ng militar? E lahat nga kanina narinig na nilang lahat ‘yun e wala namag tinago e (What, so the military won’t know (their secrets)? But it has not hidden anything),” he said. “I doubt. I hope he will be able to justify when he appears.”


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TAGS: Grace Poe, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, MILF, Pia Cayetano

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