Sotto backs reopening of Senate Mamasapano probe
More senators on Saturday said the Senate’s inquiry into the Mamasapano clash should be reopened following President Aquino’s disclosure that there was an “alternative truth” to the incident that left 44 elite police commandos dead.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III said the Senate should reopen the inquiry for the sake of the the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and the Filipino people, who deserve to know the complete picture of what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.
The 44 SAF officers who were part of a Philippine National Police mission to arrest terror suspects were killed in a daylong clash with members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), private armed groups and guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had signed a peace agreement with the government.
“We owe it to the bereaved families and to our people,” Sotto said in a text message on Saturday.
Sen. Francis Escudero said that before seeking a reinvestigation of the bloodbath in Mamasapano, he wanted to get first more information about the “alternative truth” that the President and the Armed Forces of the Philippines had spoken of.
In a radio interview, Escudero said he had sent a request for more information about the matter to make sure it was not just conjecture or rumor.
“If it’s just gossip and baseless, the effort would be wasted and we would just get the hopes of the people and the families of the SAF 44 up,” he said.
But if there is something substantial about this “alternative truth,” he said, he will call for a Senate inquiry on the matter.
“Not just a few should know about what they call the alternative truth, but the whole country and the families of the victims in Mamasapano,” he said.
He said a resolution seeking a new investigation should be filed or the previous inquiry should be reopened.
Earlier, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate would have to vote on whether to reopen the inquiry, since the committee report on the incident had already been submitted to the Senate.
The report must be calendared, and the Senate would decide by majority vote if it would remand the report to the committee for further hearings, Drilon said.
On Thursday, Sen. Grace Poe said she was considering reopening the inquiry into the Mamasapano clash, adding that she and the families of the slain commandos wanted to know the whole truth.
Poe, chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, led the Mamasapano inquiry.
The joint committee report eventually found President Aquino ultimately responsible for the botched SAF mission.
It also recommended the filing of murder, frustrated murder and robbery charges against MILF members involved in the killings. It said what took place was a massacre, not an encounter.—Leila B. Salaverria
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