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New Mamasapano probe to reopen healed wound – MILF

/ 08:40 PM January 14, 2016

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The re-opening of the investigation on the Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao would only “open the already healed wound,” an official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) warned on Thursday.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said the MILF has considered the reopening of the inquiry as an investigation not in the aid of legislation, as Congress has been mandated to do in its inquiries.

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“It’s already election season, so reopening it is an opportunity for candidates to grandstand,” Jaafar, speaking in Filipino, said.

“We consider the very unfortunate Mamasapano incident closed,” he added.

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Jaafar insisted the time has come for the Filipino people to move on, learn the lesson from the “incident” and prevent its recurrence in the future.

At least 67 persons were killed, including 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force and 17 MILF fighters, during the January 25, 2015 clash that nearly triggered the collapse of the peace process.

But Jaafar said the MILF could only express opposition to the re-opening of the probe and could not prevent the government from pursuing it anew.

“We know the government can do what it wants,” he said.

Jaafar said the MILF has not yet received any invitation to appear at the re-opening of the investigation.

“If MILF leaders are invited, it will be decided upon by the central committee. So far, no invitation yet,” he said.

During her visit to Digos City in Davao del Sur and Ozamiz City last week, Senator Grace Poe said the probe should be reopened if indeed new evidence or information has been secured.  She added that a new inquiry would follow up on the actions that should have been taken as recommended in the first inquiry.

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“There is a legitimate need to know what happened a year after,” she said.

Poe said the probe “will only be for the purpose of knowing the truth.”

Senator Chiz Escudero said Poe did not initiate the reopening of the probe.

“It is the directive of the Senate committee on rules,” he said.

Poe also allayed fears that the 2016 elections has been the underlying motive for the reopening of the investigation.

“We are only doing our work. I will not allow the probe to be used for (political) bickering,” she said.

Poe also vowed to steer it with utmost fairness, and free from the dynamics of the 2016 political fight.

She also made clear she was not inhibiting from chairing the probe “just because there is this issue (about possible politicking).”

“I want to maintain the fairness in the conduct of the hearing just like what we did before,” she added.

(With reports from Eldie Aguirre and Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao).  SFM

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