JPE to Grace Poe: What happened to Mamasapano report?

MANILA, Philippines – With only 7 months to go before the 2016 presidential elections, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile asked Senator Grace Poe on the status of the controversial Mamasapano report.

Enrile said he shares the families’ fear that the issue would be “quickly drowned” by the 2016 elections. After all, he said, many of those who expressed sympathies and commitment for justice are “now aspiring to be the next top leaders of the nation.”

“They nurse the understandable fear that the injustice done to them would just as quickly be drowned by the noise and frenzy of the 2016 election fever; and that if the tragedy is at all mentioned, such would only be used for political propaganda,” Enrile said in a privilege speech on Wednesday, October 7.

“They must know, as well, how each member of this Senate took their respective stands and duties in the findings of the investigation and the specific recommendations contained in the report,” he added.

Of the 21 senators who signed the committee report, at least 8 are running in 2016, including Poe for president; Francis Escudero, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, and Alan Peter Cayetano for vice president; and re-electionists Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Ralph Recto, Sergio Osmena III, and Teofisto "TG" Guingona III.

The former Senate president said many of their inquiries “after being terminated, and the reports signed, filed and publicized” remain only as reports and “never reach” discussions and voting in the plenary.

In March, Poe, Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chair, presented the signed committee report, which ultimately held President Benigno Aquino III accountable for the botched operation. But 7 months since then, no action has been taken by the Senate.

No Mamasapano to push for campaign?

Poe, in response to Enrile, said she is still waiting for the schedule for plenary debates from Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who, like her, is a candidate in 2016.

“Even pending the plenary debate, my committee has been tackling measures to modernize and upgrade the capability of the police force. Further, other concerns are tackled in the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) deliberations whereas criminal culpabilities of PNP officers and those who killed the SAF (Special Action Forces) are being prosecuted by the Ombudsman and the Justice department,” Poe told Rappler in a text message. 

Asked for her assurance that she would not use the Mamasapano incident to push for her political campaign, the presidential polls front runner said, “Every single public official is accountable to the people at all times, election season or not.”

Poe maintained she would pursue a “positive and high level campaign” to explain the issues. After all, she said ,she has already laid out her 20-point program when she declared her presidential bid on September 16.

“What I can assure though is not to allow the death and heroism of our law enforcement heroes, including the fallen 44, to be taken in vain now and in the future,” Poe said. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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