House to let Aquino send representative in Mamasapano probe
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives will allow President Aquino to send a representative, possibly Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, to speak for him on what he did and did not do during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano mission to arrest suspected terrorists that ended in the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force men, 17 Moro rebels and five civilians.
Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer said he did not see any need for the President to personally attend the hearing.
Ferrer said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II could not speak for the President because the former was kept out of the loop in the planning and actual execution of Mamasapano.
Ferrer is chair of the committee on public order and safety, which will resume its probe on Mamasapano on April 7 and 8.
“Our concentration is who’s calling the shots, what went wrong, and giving justice for SAF 44,” said Ferrer. “This will be solely on Mamasapano. The BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) will be discussed after.”
Davao Rep. Karl Nograles said that the President could send Ochoa to shed light on the decisions and actions made and not taken during the mission.
Nograles said the President could also send his reply to the committee’s questions through a deposition.
Nograles said the House would give the President the chance to answer questions on Mamasapano as he was not asked by both the Board of Inquiry and Senate before they released their respective reports on Mamasapano.
According to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a House committee has no power to compel the attendance of the head of a co-equal branch of government.
”The proposed invitation is mere propaganda to put Aquino on the defensive,” said Rodriguez.
Ferrer said at least 60 members have signed up to ask their questions during the probe. He said the committee could hold part of its hearing in executive session when tackling sensitive matters. “We just hope our members will use the time wisely and not ask the same questions,” said Ferrer.
He reminded his colleagues to observe proper decorum and to show respect to each other to avoid a repeat of the first hearing in February, which was notable for the rowdy behavior of members.
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