Behave during Mamasapano probe, lawmakers told

Bea Cupin
Behave during Mamasapano probe, lawmakers told
'We are accused of grandstanding... non-observance of proper decorum,' says the chairman of the House committee investigating the Mamasapano clash

MANILA, Philippines – The chairman of the House of Representatives committee probing a bloody police operation on Tuesday, April 7, made a plea to his colleagues: observe proper decorum.  

At the start of the House’s second hearing on the January 25 “Oplan Exodus,” Negros Occidental 4th district Representative Jeffrey Ferrer, chairperson of the House public order and safety committee, asked his colleagues to be “patient” during the Tuesday hearing.

Ferrer pointed out that their first hearing, held almost a month ago, was met with strong criticism from the public. “We are accused of grandstanding… non-observance of proper decorum. Even your chairman was not spared from comments,” said the legislator. 

A commotion ensued at the end of the last hearing when legislators opposed the chairman’s decision to suspend the hearing. Legislators then were insisting it was their turn to ask questions. 

Ferrer, in his opening remarks, appealed for his colleagues to cooperate “in order to change the negative impression… created in the minds of the public.” 

“Avoid questioning our own rules and procedures for it is we who crafted these rules. Rules were not meant to give advantage to anyone but only to facilitate orderly proceedings,” Ferrer said. 

“The chair [gives assurances] that every member of this committee will be given a chance to speak. All I ask is patience in waiting for each one’s turn,” he added. 

The House of Representatives’ hearing comes after the completion of at least 5 reports on the bloody clash, which claimed the lives of 67, including 5 civilians, 18 Muslim rebels, and 44 elite police. (Editor’s note: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front says 17 of their men were killed) 

“Oplan Exodus,” which targeted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (alias “Marwan”) and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman, is the bloodiest one-day operation in the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s history. It is also the biggest crisis to hit the Aquino administration and has also put in danger a long-awaited peace deal between the Philippine government and the MILF. 

Aquino’s numbers have dipped to their lowest in the aftermath of the clash, with most Filipinos left unsatisfied with his explanation or his role in the operation. 

The President was among the few officials who were fully briefed on the top-secret mission, alongside suspended and now-resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, sacked PNP Special Action Force (SAF) chief Police Director Getulio Napeñas, and PNP Intelligence Group chief Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez. 

Military, police, local government, defense, and peace deal officials were left out of the loop in the operation. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.