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Poe on SAF 44: Noy still responsible

SENATOR Grace Poe said  Wednesday  her committee stands by its findings that President Benigno Aquino III was “ultimately responsible” for the covert Mamasapano operation in which 44 police commandos were killed by Muslim rebels in January.

“We must not forget that we have seen who were responsible,” said Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order, which investigated the incident.

Poe, however, said she respected the decision of the Ombudsman not to include the President in the list of persons who should be charged for the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Looking back. In this file photo taken on March 17 this year, Senator Grace Poe gestures as she holds up a copy of the results of the investigation on the Mamasapano operation in Maguindanao on  Jan. 25, 2015, in which 44 police commandos died, and for which she said President Benigno Aquino had been responsible because she approved the operation.
                                                                                     
Reacting to a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, she said the committee could reopen the probe if new facts about the case surface.

First, however, the plenary would have to discuss Cayetano’s proposal.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said this has already been calendared.

“If Senator Grace Poe wants to sponsor it, that’s in order. It is already part of our calendar. There is nothing unusual about that,” he said.

He said the senators must vote on reopening the investigation in plenary because the committee report was already before all the senators.

“It is outside the jurisdiction of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs since the report has been submitted. It is in the calendar for ordinary business of the Senate as a whole. To bring it back to the Committee will require the vote of the plenary,” Drilon said.

Two days after delivering a two-hour valedictory State-of-the-Nation Address, Aquino continued to draw flak for failing to mention the sacrifices made by the slain police commandos.

Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna; Luz Ilagan of Gabriela; and Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, said the President did not really report to the true state of the country, just his accomplishments.

“The SONA is the chance to report to the people the real state of the nation, and not an accomplishment report,” Colmenares said.

Zarate added that the SONA was far from reality.

“The SONA was like two-hour daydreaming narrative made by President. It was a daydream where the country was supposedly prosperous, development was creeping into the long-forgotten rural cities and the bad guys were in prison. Now we wake up, back to reality about the Filipino people’s miserable plight,” Zarate said.

Both Hicap and Zarate scored the President for failing to mention the SAF 44 or efforts to bring their killers to justice.

“It has been 183 days since the gruesome Mamasapano incident and yet the President appeared to have forgotten already the SAF 44,” Zarate said.

Ilagan also lambasted the President for mentioning the past and the future, but failing to talk about the present.

“He has mentioned the past as far back as Martial Law...[and the future] even up to 2055. But what about the present?” Ilagan said, who dismissed the President’s speech as empty, with no mention of women’s concerns, or the worsening power situation in the Visayas and Mindanao.

On Tuesday, relatives of the slain police commandos took the President to task for failing to mention the sacrifice made by the SAF 44 in his SONA.

“It was very sad. Imagine, he was able to thank even his barber but he never mentioned the fallen SAF 44,” said Celesino Bilog, father of PO1 Russel Bilog, one of the slain police commandos.

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