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Mamasapano probe in House to resume in May

/ 10:54 PM March 18, 2015

MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives public order and safety committee will resume its probe on the Mamasapano debacle in May or when Congress returns from its Holy Week break, the panel chair said on Wednesday.

Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer said the panel was set to resume the probe in May now that the board of inquiry and the Senate had released its findings on the botched Jan. 25 operation in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians dead.

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“The reason why we postponed the hearing is to wait for the board of inquiry report. Since it’s already received by the committee and reproduced to the committee members to review and to study, then, we resume hearing,” Ferrer said in a text message.

Ferrer said the subsequent hearings would be done in executive sessions.

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“It’s still part of the investigation. There is no closure yet in our investigation,” Ferrer said.

The House leadership had called for both committees to suspend the Mamasapano hearing pending the results of the investigations of the police and the Senate.

The probe was also suspended after its first hearing was criticized for being circus-like due to agitated and emotional lawmakers upstaging each other in condemning the attack.

Ferrer said he would appeal to members to refrain from bringing up during the probe the Bangsamoro basic bill, the passage of which was rocked due to the involvement of its main benefactor the MILF in the attack. The bill seeks to implement the government peace deal with MILF for a Bangsamoro entity.

“I’ll say, let’s not talk about the Bangsamoro bill because there’s a venue for that,” Ferrer said, referring to the ad hoc Bangsamoro committee which also suspended its deliberations on the bill in the aftermath of the botched antiterror raid.

Ferrer said Congress should learn from its first hearing on the Mamasapano probe, which was criticized on social media as being circus-like.

“Our focus is on what happened, what went wrong. The first hearing was a hodgepodge (of issues) like the Bangsamoro bill, the peace process. The people are confused. We should follow proper decorum. If not, we’ll not continue with the hearing,” Ferrer said.

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For his part, Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, who chairs the peace, reconciliation and unity committee also investigating the debacle, said he would consult with the House leadership if he could continue with the Mamasapano probe.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro basic bill, House probe, Jeffrey Ferrer, Jim Hataman-Salliman, Mamasapano
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