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Iqbal hugs Espina, and other Senate highlights

Ayee Macaraig
Iqbal hugs Espina, and other Senate highlights
An emotional Senate Mamasapano hearing in photos: From Senator Miriam schooling Purisima on the dictionary to the Espina-Iqbal spontaneous embrace

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate hearing into the Mamasapano clash on Thursday, February 12, capped off an emotional week for police and military generals, Cabinet secretaries, peace negotiators and lawmakers recounting the deadly encounter.

After police officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina tearfully detailed the “overkill” of his men before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, February 11, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reached out to the deputy director general this time. 

At the end of the Senate hearing on Thursday, Iqbal went over to Espina in the session hall, and embraced him as a gesture of solidarity following the clash that killed 44 elite cops, 18 MILF members, and 3 civilians in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25. 

Here are the highlights of the February 12 Senate hearing in photos:

Present, at last. After disappointing lawmakers with his absence, Iqbal appears for the first time to testify before Congress on the clash that puts his group and the peace process under doubt. 
The chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission says he came from a peace forum in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Under intense questioning, Iqbal appeals to the public not to prejudge and blame the MILF. He defends the group’s commitment to the peace process, and emotionally walks through the history of the Bangsamoro struggle and details historical injustices against Muslims to parry Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano’s accusations of terrorism.  
Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
Miriam dictionary. Advice, not order? Misencounter? That’s not in the Miriam Defensor Santiago dictionary. 
The feisty senator unleashes her wrath on suspended-turned-resigned police chief Alan Purisima who tried but failed to use his advice-not-order line for the 4th congressional hearing in a row. 
Santiago tells Purisima, “Don’t quibble with me. I memorize the dictionary. You only advised, not ordered? Malas natin may doctorate degree ako.” (Too bad I have a doctorate.)
A peeved Santiago also tells resource persons there’s no such word as “misencounter” in the dictionary. 
“Don’t play words with me, words are my livelihood,” she says. 
Photo by Romy Bugante/Senate PRIB
*Crickets* All senator Nancy Binay gets is silence when she asks Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Espina who broke the news of the clash to President Benigno Aquino III. 
“Wala ho?” (No one?) 
“Wala pa rin ho?” (Still no answer?) 
After more moments of awkward silence, Senator Grace Poe puts the question to Purisima who says, “Your honor, may I be given time to seek clearance with the President to answer your question?” 
Photo by Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB
Not insult? For the second time, Cayetano tries to pursue supposed links between the MILF and terrorism, saying “It’s not meant as an insult but terrorism is an international, legal term.” 
He is quick to clarify that he is “not anti-Muslim,” bringing up the mosques and Muslim constituents he has in Taguig. 
Cayetano castigates Iqbal for the MILF’s armed struggle that he says brought poverty and misery to Mindanao. 
He retorts: “Magpapasalamat pa pala kami sa inyo na nakagawa na kami ng kalye dahil sa ceasefire?” (So we should even thank you that we are now able to build bridges because of the ceasefire?)
“You are using the barrel of the gun. You say you are for peace but you are the ones warring us.” 
He also claims Nelson Mandela did not engage in armed struggle, only for presidential peace adviser Ging Deles to later correct him.
Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
Indignant governor. Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman fights back tears as he responds to Cayetano’s terrorist tagging. 
A Muslim, the former Basilan representative corrects Cayetano’s assertions on the MILF’s involvement in the Al Barka incident in Basilan in 2011.
He says, “Paumanhin, ‘di ako senador. Nabasa ba ninyo ang resulta ng Al Barka kung ang gumawa MILF o Abu Sayyaf?” (Sorry, I am not a senator. But have you read the results of the Al Barka report if the perpetrators were MILF or Abu Sayyaf?)
Cayetano tries to tone down his rhetoric, saying it was meant only for MILF members, and not all Moros. 
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV gives his two cents: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” 
Photo by Cesar Tomambo/Senate PRIB
‘Not enemies.’ At the tail-end of the hearing, Espina addresses Iqbal while he discusses the medico-legal report that showed some of his men were still alive but finished off.
Sana sama-sama po tayo. Forty-four sa amin namatay. Sa inyo 18 pero we have to be together here. We seek justice for our people,” Espina says.  (I hope we can work together. Forty-four of our men died. Eighteen on your part.)
Iqbal explains why he embraced Espina.
“We are not at war with the PNP. Right from the start, the enemy of the MILF is oppression. That’s the enemy of the MILF. The government of the Philippines is not the enemy of the MILF. The AFP is not the enemy. The PNP is not the enemy. I said, ‘We did not want the incident to happen,’” Iqbal says in a press briefing. 
Asked how Espina reacted, Iqbal says, “He smiled.” – Rappler.com 


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