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Aquino to be in deep trouble if Enrile has Mamasapano evidence – Osmeña

/ 10:15 PM January 19, 2016

MANILA, Philippines — If Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile could provide proof of his claim that President Aquino knew that the Special Action Forces commandos were being slain in Mamasapano in a clash with Moro fighters and did nothing about it, this would be “deadly” to the chief executive, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said on Tuesday.

Osmeña also believes Enrile is looking to hurt President Aquino with his move to reopen the Senate’s inquiry into the Mamasapano clash, in retaliation for his being detained over the alleged pocketing of pork barrel funds.

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Enrile said Monday that he had evidence that Mr. Aquino was actively involved in the planning for the Mamasapano operation, and was monitoring the developments as they unfolded. The President also supposedly knew that the SAF troopers were being killed but did not act to help them.

Osmeña thinks Enrile’s move has a political color, but he does not think Enrile is doing this to favor any particular candidate.

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“I don’t think Johnny [Enrile’s nickname] cares too much about that. He just cares to hurt PNoy because PNoy put him in the stockade, that’s why. I don’t think he’s doing it in favor of anybody,” he told reporters in an ambush interview.

Enrile was one of three senators earlier detained for plunder for allegedly pocketing their pork barrel funds. The Supreme Court later granted Enrile bail on humanitarian grounds, citing the frail health of the 91-year-old lawmaker.

He promptly returned to the Senate after his release.

He was detained at the Philippine National Police General Hospital when the Senate first held its inquiry on the Mamasapano encounter. He had denied that his request to reinvestigate the Mamasapano clash was politically motivated.

But whatever the motive, Enrile’s revelations, should they turn out to be true, could be detrimental to the chief executive, said Osmeña.

“I think if Manong Johnny can prove that, that’s going to be very deadly, that’s going to hurt the President,” he said.

The Mamasapano gun battle had triggered one of the worst political crises to hit the Aquino administration and was detrimental to Mr. Aquino’s ratings. It also derailed the Bangsamoro bill, which was a key piece of the government’s peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

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But Osmeña does not think Mr. Aquino should face the Senate to answer questions.

“I think because of the dignity of his office, we don’t want him subjected to that,” he said.

He said President Aquino could allow himself to be videotaped answering questions, similar to what former US President Bill Clinton did when he was accused of having intimate relations with someone other than his wife.

Asked if he thought Enrile’s revelations could hurt the President’s candidates in the May elections, Osmeña said not all would be affected.

If any would be affected, it would only be those perceived to be very close to the President, he said.

“Mostly, no. They will be elected on their own, that’s why I’ve always maintained you don’t need a party to get elected,” he said.  SFM

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