MANILA, Philippines – For the 3rd day on Thursday, February 12, the Senate conducted a hearing on the January 25 bloody operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 troopers from the police's Special Action Force (SAF), 17 fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and 3 civilians were killed.
MILF's chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal finally made an appearance after skipping the first two Senate hearings on Monday and Tuesday, and the House of Representatives' hearing on Wednesday.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who also attended the hearings for the first time, unleashed her wrath on resigned police chief Alan Purisima for supervising a police operation even if he was already suspended. She also told resource persons there's no such word as "misencounter" in the dictionary.
Iqbal delivered an opening statement, where he reiterated the MILF's commitment to the peace process and its readiness to help the government in tracking down terrorists. He also asked the senators and the public not to prejudge and blame the MILF for the clash, saying it has yet to complete its own investigation, and that it also lost its own men.
Iqbal was castigated for the MILF's armed struggle by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who tried to establish an alleged link between the group and terrorism. Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman responded to Cayetano's terrorist tagging as he held back tears.
Santiago said President Benigno Aquino III and the 3 police officials who briefed him on January 9, 2015, on “Oplan Exodus” are responsible for the casualties in the bloody encounter.
Below is the transcript of the February 12 hearing.
Below are stories from the February 12 Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash: