LP to 2016 bets: Hands off Mamasapano probe

Bea Cupin
LP to 2016 bets: Hands off Mamasapano probe
'To avoid any semblance of impropriety,' senators seeking higher posts in 2016 should inhibit themselves from the Mamasapano probe, says coalition spokesman Ibarra Gutierrez

MANILA, Philippines – Should senators seeking a post in 2016 inhibit themselves when the probe into a controversial police operation resumes?

For the spokesman of the ruling coalition, they should stay away from what will likely be a highly-charged probe “to avoid any semblance of impropriety.”

Earlier this week, the Senate announced it would be re-opening its probe into “Oplan Exodus” because Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has personal knowledge and supposedly has “new evidence.” (READ: SAF 44 used for politics? That’s for public to say – PNP)

Paggalang nga dun sa prinsipyo ng delikadeza. Hindi siguro maganda na doon pa sila papapel. Hayaan na lang nila na yung mga ibang senador na hindi tumatakbo ngayon, hindi nangangailangang mag-project sa publiko, sila ang tumayo at magtanong sa isyu na ito. Para lang huwag masabi at mawalan ng kahit anumang duda na ang imbestigasyon na bubuksan nila muli ay gagamitin lang para sa pulitika,” coalition spokesman Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez said in a chance interview on Friday, January 8.

(It’s respect for the principle of delicadeza. I don’t think it’ll look good if they grandstand there. Let the other senators not seeking a post in 2016, those who don’t need to project to the public, stand up and ask about this issue. Just so there’ll be no doubt that the probe was re-opened for political purposes.)

Exodus is a top-secret police operation that saw close to 400 troopers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) enter Mamasapano town in Maguindanao to eliminate terrorists wanted by both the Philippines and the United States. (READ: LP’s Erice on Mamasapano probe: Tool vs Aquino, Roxas)

But as two SAF companies attempted to exit, they were caught in a gun battle with local armed forces, including members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). At least 60 people, including 44 SAF troopers, died during the operation.

It also endangered a long-awaited peace deal with the MILF and saw President Benigno Aquino III’s numbers plummet to their lowest.

The Senate’s re-opening of the case is set on January 25, exactly a year after the bloody operation.

Motives

The ruling party and Aquino himself have questioned the motives of senators, given the proximity of the probe to the campaign period.

Senator Grace Poe, an independent presidential candidate, heads the Senate sub-committee tasked to conduct the probe. At least 5 senators – Poe’s running mate Senator Francis Escudero, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV – are running for vice president.

The SAF chief who headed the operation, retired police director Getulio Napeñas, is a senatorial candidate of opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay’s party. The ruling Liberal Party (LP)’s standard bearer Manuel Roxas II was interior chief and head of the National Police Commission when the operation took place but was kept out of the loop.

Gutierrez commended Poe for saying she would make an effort to keep politics out of the probe, but said she should take this one step further by inhibiting outright.

After all, dun sa kanyang mga (in her) statements regarding SET, yung statements niya (her statements) regarding the Supreme Court , yung Comelec [Commission on Elections]. Dun sa mga kasong kanyang hinaharap. Inadvocate niya ‘yan, na mag-inhibit yung mga miyembro na nagde-decide sa kanyang mga kaso (In the cases she’s facing, she’s advocated for certain members to inhibit from her case),” added Gutierrez, referring to several disqualification cases against Poe.

Gutierrez added that Roxas will make it a point to attend the probe, should he be summoned by the Senate. – Rappler.com

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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.