CONGRESSIONAL allies of President Benigno Aquino III rejected Wednesday the reopening of the investigation of the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation authorized by the Palace, calling it a waste of time and a political gimmick.
Reps. Jerry Trenas of Iloilo and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela said there is very little time left for lawmakers before the May elections and the closing of the 16th Congress in June, so it was better for both the House and the Senate to stay focused on their legislative function.
Trenas said that this move to resurrect the issue is obviously a ploy to discredit the Aquino administration and weaken the President’s chosen candidates.
“Stop flogging a dead horse. We have to move on and let the lessons of Mamasapano guide us for the future. Re-opening this Mamasapano issue for the purpose of politicking is the highest form of disrespect and dishonor on the memories of our fallen policemen,” Trenas, vice chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said.
Trenas said that Congress is not a judicial body and all of its investigations are only for the purpose of creating legislation that may prevent incidents like the Mamasapano encounter from happening in the future.
“Clearly, the purpose of this move to reopen the Mamasapano issue on the basis of alleged new evidence related to the incident is nothing more than a political gimmickry. They want to squeeze this issue dry and pin down the Aquino administration,” Trenas said.
Albano agreed that reopening any case in the event of a new evidence is the work of judicial bodies and not Congress.
“We should keep focused on our legislative work. We may not have the luxury of time to attend to reopening of investigations on issues such as the Mamasapano,” Albano said.
Trenas tagged as “overacting” the effort to reopen the Mamasapano probe.
“Instead of re-opening a Senate probe on this Mamasapano raid, Congress should already start crafting measures that provides more government support for policemen and soldiers who are killed in the line of duty,” Trenas said.
One measure that should be passed is a proposal that would increase the combat pay of uniformed personnel and salaries for soldiers and policemen who are assigned in high-risk areas, Trenas said.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. added that reopening the Mamasapano probe in Congress would “adversely affect” the criminal cases filed against those responsible for the massacre.
“The reopening of the Mamasapano probe will only create confusion among the public. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate had already conducted extensive investigations into the matter then,” Barzaga said, adding that the Senate had already made its findings public.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz shared a similar view.
“The reopening will only exacerbate the situation as we will again be treated to the same old tricks,” he said, adding that it was another opportunity for cover-ups.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano welcomed a reopening of the investigation, but said the timing was suspect because the elections were drawing near.
“We cannot really hide the fact that the reopening of the investigation on the Mamasapano incident will have political implications because of the May elections,” Alejano said.
The Palace on Wednesday declined to comment on moves to reopen the Mamasapano investigation, saying only that it was the prerogative belonged to Congress.
“The decision to open it is clearly a legislative decision.... We do not wish to impute any motivation on the reopening,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe has set the re-opening of the Mamasapano inquiry on Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the massacre of 44 commandos of the Special Action Force by Muslim rebels in Maguindanao.
Critics said this was Poe’s way of getting even with the administration, which she accuses of being behind the disqualification cases filed against her.
“Senator Grace Poe already has a report made, but this has not been voted on yet on the floor of the Senate. So we do not wish to impute any motivation in this,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda also said they do not know what Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was talking about when he mentioned new evidence about the massacre.
“There’s nothing that we can comment right now until the investigation has been reopened,” he said, adding that the concerns about assistance for the SAF 44 have all been addressed.
“For privacy concerns, we do not wish to [make public the help given to them],” he said.
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