Aquino can’t be forced to attend Mamasapano House probe – Palace
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III may choose to attend the ongoing hearings in Congress to shed light on the controversial Mamasapano operation but lawmakers can’t force him to do so.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday reminded the public that Congress cannot compel the President to attend their proceedings.
“This is a different branch of government,” he said, pertaining to the Legislative and the Executive, which are separate and co-equal branches of government.
However, when asked if Aquino is planning to participate in the hearings, Lacierda said he does not know.
“It’s not for me to decide,” he said.
He also said that other questions pertaining to the President can easily be answered by other resource persons who were involved in the operation.
“That can be asked from anybody who has discussions with the President. I mean it has been laid out there. It has been stated by (relieved Special Action Force commander Director) General Napeñas that (resigned Philippine National Police chief) General Purisima was talking to the President,” he said.
Lacierda explained that such information “will be elicited hopefully from the inquiry.”
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have held hearings on the PNP-SAF operation in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao last January 25. While the operation successfully resulted in the killing of international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it also caused the death of 44 policemen following a so-called “misencounter” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
While Aquino supposedly knew of the confidential mission, the PNP chain-of-command was left in the dark. Instead of informing Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and PNP officer in charge Leonardo Espina, SAF chief Getulio Napeñas kept the operation a secret, upon the advice of Purisima.
Purisima has been accused of directing the operation despite the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order on his involvement in an anomalous PNP contract. His resignation was later accepted by the President amid public outrage on the Mamasapano clash.
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