Families of slain SAF men attend as House resumes Mamasapano probe
The House of Representatives on Tuesday resumed its probe on the Mamasapano incident, this time attended by family members of the slain 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
The probe resumed almost two months after the first hearing on Feb. 11 which was described as a circus after outraged lawmakers tried to upstage one another in an emotional debate.
House leaders suspended the hearings pending the results of investigations by the police and the Senate on the operation to take down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman and another suspect.
The family members of the slain SAF commandos attended the hearing as part of the audience.
In his opening speech, public order and safety panel chair Negros Occidental Representative Jeffrey Ferrer appealed to his colleagues to restrain their emotions to avoid a repeat of the previous hearing.
“We are accused of grandstanding and non-conduct. I would like to appeal for your cooperation in order to change the negative impression on the public,” Ferrer said.
He reminded them to avoid questioning their own rules of procedure and keep their questions within their five-minute allocation.
Peace, reconciliation and unity chair Basilan Representative Jim Hataman-Salliman also appealed for decorum among his colleagues.
“Our first hearing fell short of people’s expectations when we allowed our unbridled passion to get in the way of our decorum. Let’s not allow this to happen again,” Salliman said.
The House is clamping down on emotional lawmakers to maintain decorum in the investigation after its first hearing was criticized for being frenzied and circus-like.
Lawmakers are outraged over the involvement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the attack against the SAF, especially since the lower chamber is studying the passage of the bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The BBL will pave the way for the Bangsamoro in compliance with a peace deal with the MILF.
Attending as resource persons are Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, sacked Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas, Board of Inquiry head Benjamin Magalong, and Presidential Peace Process adviser Teresita Deles.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also attended the hearing.
Members of the joint House panel conducting the probe voted not to invite President Benigno Aquino III, who has drawn flak for refusing to accept responsibility for the botched operation while blaming Napeñas.
Aquino said Napeñas failed to coordinate the mission which resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and five civilians in a 12-hour gunbattle.
The police Board of Inquiry in its report found that Aquino bypassed the police chain of command when he authorized Napeñas and then-suspended police chief Alan Purisima to lead the operation while keeping acting police chief Leonardo Espina in the dark.
Meanwhile, the Senate panel led by Senator Grace Poe found Aquino “ultimately responsible” because of his giving assent to Purisima, his long-time friend.
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