Mar willing to face anew Senate probe on Mamasapano
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II expressed willingness yesterday to again face the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano incident, which claimed the lives of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Roxas issued the statement as the Senate is gearing up for the reopening of the investigation to coincide with the first anniversary of the Jan. 25 encounter between the SAF members and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“I won’t back off from any investigation as I am for transparency,” Roxas told reporters in Romblon. “This issue has been through so many hearings in the House, Philippine National Police, DOJ (Department of Justice) and the Senate.”

“So if there’s anything that has not been asked of me, I’m open to help if I will be summoned to answer questions,” he added.

Roxas, however, declined to comment on criticisms from President Aquino and other administration allies that the fresh probe was politically motivated.

“That’s not for me to say. On my part, if they have anything to ask, I will answer. I have nothing to hide,” Roxas said.

Presidential aspirant Sen. Grace Poe is leading the investigation.

Poe said she would just be a moderator in the hearings as chairman of the Senate committee on public order.

Roxas was interior secretary at the time of the Mamasapano incident. He was apparently kept out of the loop by Aquino and then PNP chief Alan Purisima and a few top police officials from the planning stages of the operation, dubbed “Oplan Exodus,” to arrest fugitive Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his local confederates.

Critics said Roxas was aware of Oplan Exodus as he, Aquino, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other top security officials were in Zamboanga City that day, apparently expecting a successful operation.

Although the SAF commandos managed to neutralize Marwan, the operation went haywire when they figured in separate firefights with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as they were pulling out of the area.

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, who is running for the Senate under Poe’s ticket, welcomed the reopening of the Senate inquiry.

Pagdilao, who was once a SAF officer, said continuing the probe was necessary to give justice to the “police officers who sacrificed their lives for the call of duty.”

He believes that until there is closure to the incident, the public will not be reassured of the country’s peace and security.    

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged Poe and other senators running for office in this year’s elections to inhibit from the investigation.

He advised to Poe to delegate the conduct of the hearing to the vice chairpersons of the Senate panel to avoid criticisms that the Mamasapano inquiry was politically motivated.

Cayetano, who is running for vice president, said he would not attend the hearing.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile had earlier sought the reopening of the Mamasapano probe because he was in detention when the initial proceedings were held last year.

Enrile claimed he has new information to support the reopening of the probe.

For his part, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assailed the President for trying to discredit the upcoming Senate investigation.

“Instead of awaiting the outcome of the investigation, Malacañang implied bad faith in the reopening of the Mamasapano probe,” Marcos said.  – With Marvin Sy

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