Let’s move on after Aquino owned responsibility–Belmonte | Inquirer News
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Let’s move on after Aquino owned responsibility–Belmonte

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III’s speech seeking the people’s understanding instead of forgiveness over his actions in the Mamasapano operations should be enough to appease public outrage, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said on Thursday.

“I am satisfied with his explanation. He has accepted responsibility. Time to move on,” Belmonte said of Aquino’s address before Philippine National Police Academy graduates.

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The leader of the House of Representatives said he believed Aquino’s remarks should help calm the discussion on the botched counterterrorism operation, which left more than 60 dead, 44 of them elite police commandos, in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.

Aquino stopped short of giving a full apology over his decisions such as allowing a suspended official, former PNP Director General Alan Purisima, to take charge of “Oplan Exodus.”

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“To every Filipino who felt disappointed and hurt, I humbly ask for your understanding,” the President said. He went on to say the choices he made at the time were based on wrong information.

READ: Aquino stops short of ‘sorry,’ asks for understanding

Another staunch Aquino ally, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice of Liberal Party, lamented the critics for continuing to smear the name of the President.

Erice also said Aquino’s actions went beyond an apology and proved that he felt responsible for the operation.

“This is already too much. They want to shame the President. This is politics. Enough is enough,” Erice said.

“Action speaks louder than words. He is sorry for what had happened. He attended to the families of the SAF troopers and promised to give justice …” he said.

At least two party-list lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc, however, were dissatisfied with Aquino’s speech, interpreting his words as a hardheaded refusal to accept responsibility.

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“President Aquino’s refusal to admit accountability in the deaths of the SAF 44 while still blaming others will only worsen his predicament as it further fuels the clamor for him to step down,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

He said blaming Purisima, who was forced to resign his post amid the fallout, was “one of the worst defenses” the President could make, since the resigned official, who took charge of the Mamasapano operation even though he was under suspension, had no authority at the time.

“Aquino’s actions not only endangered the lives of the SAF men but also sent the wrong message to the people,” Colmenares said.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said Aquino was being intentionally evasive, calling the President’s speech during the PNPA graduation a “nonapology apology” for appealing to the public’s understanding instead of apologizing for his accountability in the botched antiterror raid.

READ: Aquino speech fails to satisfy militant solons

“Note how the President didn’t even ask for the public’s forgiveness. He asked for understanding. Mr. President, the public understands—we the people understand that it is you at fault in this botched operation,” Ridon said.

“The President has purposefully and willfully missed the point in this speech. The point is to admit that he broke the chain of command, that he used the PNP SAF as cannon fodder, that he is ultimately responsible for the bloodshed in Mamasapano,” he said.

“Yet here is Aquino at his worst: Showing not even an ounce of remorse for his criminal actions that led to the deaths of almost 70 Filipinos.”

The House will resume its probe into the Mamasapano debacle on April 7 and 8.

Belmonte said it would be up to the two committees leading the investigation to decide whether to ask for further explanation from Aquino or his subordinates about the incident, which has imperiled the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. SM/AC/RC

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, atrocity, Basit Usman, Bayan Muna partylist, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, bloodshed, carnage, chain of command, clash, command responsibility, covert operations, Encounter, fact finding, Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Getulio Napeñas, gun battle, House of Representatives, House Speaker, inquiry, investigation, Kabataan partylist, law enforcement, Mamasapano debacle, Mamasapano massacre, Mamasapano mission, manhunt for terrorists, Marwan, Massacre, massacre of policemen, Neri Colmenares, News, Oplan Exodus, Philippine National Police, Philippine president, Politics, pursuit operations, speaker, Special Action Force, Terry Ridon, Zulkifli bin Hir
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