SAF 44 relatives: Resume Mamasapano probe
MANILA, Philippines – Relatives of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) cops who perished in the Mamasapano clash trooped to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 10, to call for the resumption of the probe into the tragic police operation.
"We came here because we want to resume the hearings. They already killed the SAF 44. Now, they want to kill the case. We don't want to just stay silent," said Rhodora Cordero, wife of PO2 Roger Cordero.
The relatives of the fallen SAF troops faced the media in a press conference led by the minority bloc.
They met Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr and other House members on Tuesday to convince the body to continue the probe.
A total of 82 members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter to Belmonte on February 23 asking for a resumption of the House probe. Together with the relatives of SAF troopers, lawmakers presented the letter to Belmonte anew Tuesday.
The meeting came a day after President Benigno Aquino III, in an event with religious leaders, for the first time categorically blamed sacked SAF chief Getulio Napeñas for the incident that killed 44 SAF troopers, 18 Moro rebels and 3 civilians. (READ: House ally accuses Aquino of 'brazen cover up')
But the relatives of the SAF troopers said they remain unconvinced as simultaneous investigations on the incident have yet to reveal who really gave the orders.
The SAF relatives said the role of resigned police chief Alan Purisima and the President must be established.
"Hindi pa po kami kuntento sa mga nangyaring hearing dahil hindi pa nakita talaga kung sino ang nag-utos ang ano ang magiging parusa sa nagkasala," said Nicky Nacino Sr, father of PO2 Nicky Nacino Jr.
(We are not convinced with the hearings that are happening because we have not seen who really gave the orders and what the punishment will be.)
Nacino said the Mamasapano tragedy must first be resolved before discussions on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was stalled following the clash, are resumed.
"Natatakpan na po yata ang usapin ng SAF 44. Nangingibabaw po ang usapin sa BBL. Bakit po natin ito itutuloy kung hindi pa natatapos ang sa Mamasapano?" Nacino said.
(It seems that the issue of the SAF 44 has been overtaken [by other issues]. It is now the BBL that is being talked about. Why should we continue it if the Mamasapano has not been resolved?)
Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said the House probe would give the families of the SAF members the chance to air out their side. They were not included during the Senate hearings.
"The views of the families were not really taken into account in any of these investigations," he said.
Belmonte earlier said that the House will only resume hearings on the Mamasapano clash if they find that the findings Board of Inquiry (BOI) would not be sufficient.
After holding just one hearing, the House leadership decided to suspend the House probe into the incident pending the results of the BOI investigation. The Senate was conducting its own probe during that time. (READ: Purisima cites 'executive privilege' on Aquino role)
At the height of the Senate probe, Aquino called for a meeting with around 20 lawmakers that included party leaders and House leaders. During the meeting, Aquino said he was "lied to" about the real status of the Oplan Exodus on the ground.