JPE vows to pinpoint Noy role in Mamasapano clash

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday vowed to delve into the liability of President Aquino for the deaths of 44 police commandos when the inquiry into the Mamasapano incident reopens next week.

“He is the President until the end of his term and he has accountability over the events that transpired during his entire term,” Enrile said in a radio interview.

“It is irrelevant whatever the time he has left in his term. He is the President, period. He has the ultimate responsibility and accountability for the incident,” he added.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Grace Poe set the hearing on Jan. 27.

Enrile said he wanted to reopen the Senate hearing to prove Aquino’s responsibility for the police mission to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 last year.

As the commander-in-chief, Enrile said Aquino should have called the shots during the Mamasapano operation.

The senator believes there were efforts to cover-up for the President’s liability in the incident.

Enrile wanted to look into the exchange of text messages between Cabinet officials and top police officials at the time.

No politics

Enrile said his call for the reopening of the Mamasapano inquiry had nothing to do with politics. He said he has no ax to grind against Aquino.

Enrile said he wanted to reopen the investigation to ask questions regarding the government’s actions during the encounter.

He wants Aquino to attend the hearing to explain his actions or inaction that may have led to the deaths.

However, Malacañang insisted that the President has already spoken on the matter.

Enrile, who is facing plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam, was in detention at Camp Crame when the Senate conducted the hearings last year. He is out on bail.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri expressed willingness to attend the Senate probe on the Mamasapano encounter.

“We respect the decision of the senators to reopen the investigation,” Iriberri said during his visit to the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga over the weekend.

He said military officers who were assigned in the area during the Mamasapano operation are ready to attend the hearing if they are summoned.

Why only now?

A widow of one of the 44 SAF commandos killed in the Mamasapano encounter yesterday questioned the plan of the Senate to reopen the investigation.

“Why only now? It’s been a year, and we have been waiting for justice,” Virgie Viernes, widow of Police Officer 3 Olibeth Viernes, said in Filipino over radio dzMM.

Poe moved the date of the hearing from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27 in deference to the commemoration activities for the 44 SAF commandos killed in an encounter against Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. – With Roel Pareno, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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