SENATE Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile only wants to resume hearings on the Mamasapano massacre to exact revenge on President Benigno Aquino III, who “persecuted and sent him to jail” over the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Senator Sergio Osmeña III said Tuesday.
Osmeña questioned Enrile’s assertion that there was no political color when he sought a reopening of the Senate investigation by the public order committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe.
“Definitely, there is political color,” said Osmeña, a frequent critic of the President.
Asked if Enrile’s move would favor any candidate, Osmeña replied: “I don’t think Johnny [Enrile] cares too much about that.”
“Johnny wants to hurt Pnoy [Aquino], maybe put him in a stockade. I don’t think he is doing this as a favor to anybody,” Osmeña said.
He said if Enrile can prove before the Senate that the President “actively and directly” involved himself in Operation Exodus, the ill-fated covert police operation that claimed the lives of 44 police commandos, that would hurt the President and destroy his legacy.
Osmeña said it was uncertain if any explosive revelations at the Senate would also hurt the administration candidates.
Osmeña said he didn’t see the need for the President to go to the Senate to answer questions to preserve the dignity of his office.
“We don’t want him to be subjected to that,” he said.
Enrile shrugged off Osmeña’s assessment and said his colleague should simply wait for his questions at the resumption of the hearings on Jan. 27. He said it was difficult to pass judgment on one’s peers.
Enrile also said that while some witnesses volunteered to come forward to testify, he said he does not need to call them, saying he had sufficient evidence to prove the President’s direct hand in planning and executing the botched operation. He again said the President did nothing to save the 44 SAF commandos.
He refused to say what the evidence was, however.
“I must be stupid to answer that question. I will not tell you what I have. If I’m playing poker, I will not show you my card,” he said.
The Palace said Tuesday that President Aquino did everything he could as commander-in-chief to prevent the massacre in Mamasapano.
“The President said he did what he had to do as commander-in-chief. He did what he could as President, concerned government officials also did what they could, and these were already revealed and disclosed during the past. There were also several investigations done regarding this,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
He also cited the President’s stated willingness to look at “alternative versions” of the events in Mamasapano.
“That is why we said that in all opportunities, the government is always open and transparent in our position regarding this issue and ready to give explanations during the right occasion and the right time,” said Coloma.
Coloma also said Aquino had delivered many speeches and public statements in which he disclosed what he knew regarding the Mamasapano massacre. And in all occasions, the government has been open and remains open in giving out information, he said.
Coloma reiterated that the government was ready to answer all questions before the Senate.
Militant groups, meanwhile, are preparing a big rally on Monday, Jan. 25, to mark the first anniversary of the Mamasapano massacre.
Youth group Anakbayan will be spearheading the protests as the Senate reopens the Mamasapano probe on Jan. 27.
The group called President Aquino the “mastermind,” saying he and his US masters should be made accountable for the death of 44 SAF policemen, Moro rebels, and civilians in the covert operation.
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairman, said the reopening of the investigation on Jan. 27 is a welcome development that should disclose new information that can supplement the previous committee report of Poe.
“The latest revelations by Senator Enrile reaffirm what BS Aquino has been denying for so long: that he was directly involved in the planning, preparations, and actual monitoring of the Mamasapano offensive and that he did nothing while the SAF were being slaughtered,” he said.
Crisostomo urged the Senate to uphold its independence against attempts by Aquino to stop the resumption of the hearings. He said the Senate must not allow the Aquino administration to “yellow-wash” and cover up the truth about Mamasapano.
“Many questions remain unanswered. The Senate should look into the US’ leading role in the Mamasapano carnage. The Aquino government colluded with US military forces in what was essentially an American operation that used Filipino troops as cannon-fodder,” said Crisostomo.
He said that Cabinet members who took part in the grand cover-up of Aquino’s crimes should likewise be held responsible in light of Senator Enrile’s recent revelations about Cabinet members who did not disclose all the facts in last year’s hearings.
Some of the Cabinet members who attended the hearings were former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, former Justice secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. With Joel E. Zurbano
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