House vows to avoid another circus in Mamasapano inquiry Tuesday
Leaders of the House of Representatives have taken steps to avoid another circus at the resumption of the joint inquiry into the Jan. 25 Mamasapano debacle on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he issued a number of reminders to the two investigating committees to ensure orderly behavior and prevent a repeat of the first hearing on Feb. 11, when the members’ loud antics generated ridicule on social media.
“Don’t let it be a forum for people with agendas,” “Let’s not repeat questions already asked,” and “Observe time limits” were just some of the tips Belmonte said he gave the panel members.
Media presence will also be limited at the South Wing Annex of the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City, with news teams required to get stickers to cover the event. Ambush interviews will be restricted to a part of the lobby.
Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer, chair of the public order and safety committee, said he expected a quorum among the members of the joint panel, with a number of representatives signifying their intent to attend.
“I already reminded them to observe proper decorum,” Ferrer said.
The House probe will supplement the findings of the police’s board of inquiry and the Senate panel on “Oplan Exodus,” an ill-fated counterterrorism operation that left 64 people dead, including 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and three civilians.
The hearings are jointly conducted by the House committees on public order and safety, and peace, unity and reconciliation.
Further hearings had been initially suspended after the disruptive behavior of the panel members made them laughingstocks in February.
But House leaders were prevailed upon to continue the inquiry after a petition led by minority lawmakers gathered some 120 signatures from the 290-strong chamber to resume the probe.
Ferrer, however, said the possibility of President Benigno Aquino III appearing at the House probe was a “negative.” House leaders earlier announced they would not compel Mr. Aquino’s presence at the hearings, but would appreciate any statement he might issue on his knowledge and participation in the Mamasapano incident.
Belmonte said Mr. Aquino had so far not indicated he would send a representative to answer questions for him.
Among the guests to be invited at the hearings are sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas, resigned Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, Ferrer said.
Aside from police and MILF officials, the two committees have invited the widows and family members of some of the slain SAF commandos to shed light on the incident.
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