Senate to set plenary debates on Mamasapano report on Enrile request
The Senate will schedule plenary debates on the Mamasapano clash upon the request of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, months after the submission of a committee report that had found President Aquino ultimately liable for the incident.
As the chair of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that spearheaded the probe, Sen. Grace Poe is expected to defend the findings on the January 25 anti-terror operation that led to the death of the 44 Special Action Force commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, and three civilians.
But the plenary debates could only begin when sessions resume in November. Wednesday was the Senate’s last session day before it went on recess for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
Enrile took to the floor to question the status of the Mamasapano report and to ask that the matter be discussed on the floor.
“If we want to really be open and transparent to the people, then we must do this. Otherwise, there will be the suspicion that we are hiding something. I personally think that we are hiding something,” he said.
Enrile has a lot of questions for top officials of Malacañang, the police, and the military about their actions, or inactions, during the police operation where the SAF commandos were killed.
Poe said she “fully supports” the transparency call of Enrile and noted that since submitting a committee report on the Mamasapano encounter, she has been waiting for Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano to schedule the plenary debate.
Poe would sponsor the report on the floor before the debates could begin.
Cayetano said he has no objection to the debates and would schedule them, subject to the Senate calendar.
But he also pointed out that he had asked for a re-opening of the committee hearings on the issue so that resource persons could be called to the Senate. If the report were discussed in the plenary, it would only be Senators discussing the matter among themselves.
In his privilege speech, Enrile said that when news of the Mamasapano clash reached him in detention, a lot of questions came to mind about its tragic end.
“In those critical moments when the battle was apparently going on, I recall no word was uttered from the Palace, from the AFP, and from the PNP,” he said.
He described the silence as “ominous.”
“Was there a government paralysis during those tense moments?” he asked.
He also said that many Senate inquiries conducted in aid of legislation had resulted in committee reports that had not been discussed, debated, or voted upon in the plenary.
The report on Mamasapano should not share this fate, he said.
The Senate owes it to the slain SAF members and to the survivors to place the matter into the records of the Senate, according to Enrile.
The plenary discussions would also show the public how the Senate dealt with the complex issues discovered during its investigation.
“They must know, as well, how each member of this Senate took their respective stands in the findings of the investigation and the specific recommendations contained in the report,” he added.
The Mamasapano carnage had derailed Congress’ deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro bill, the product of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF.
After the clash, several lawmakers had questioned the sincerity of the MILF as a peace partner.
Deliberations on the Bangsamoro bill are also expected to resume in November.
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