Rejecting Palace insinuations that the revival of the Senate probe of Mamasapano was politically motivated, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday stressed he is not “an errand boy” of anybody and does not hold grudge against President Aquino.
“That’s foolishness! There is no grandstanding here. They are the ones politicking, insinuating that we have ill motive. If we have such motive, they should prove it. They should answer my questions. I will challenge them to answer the questions,” Enrile told reporters in a phone patch interview.
Interviewed on Monday at the Sandiganbayan during the deferment of his pre-trial hearing, Enrile said he did not include the President among the list of resource persons whom he wanted to attend the Jan. 25 hearing.
But he said he wanted to know Aquino’s actual role in the Mamasapano debacle, which resulted in the death of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force.
“My line of questioning will focus on the participation of the President because that is not clear. They said he is ultimately responsible. Why? The question is why,” said Enrile.
“if he wants to answer my questions, I will welcome him. In fact, I would encourage him to attend to answer them,” said Enrile who is facing before the Sandiganbayan Third Division graft and plunder charges over the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
The senate inquiry will be led anew by Senator Grace Poe’s public order committee that earlier found Aquino “ultimately liable” for the death of the police commandos.
Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, who was then the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which has jurisdictionn over the PNP, was one of the resource persons Enrile requested from Poe’s committee.
But he assured Roxas of a fair treatment when he appears again in the hearing.
“I will not tell you the questions I am going to ask. I hope you understand my position. I’m not trying anybody in public. I’m going to ask them questions,” said Enrile in yesterday’s interview.
Enrile also said it does not matter to him if Roxas is a candidafe because he is not going to deal with his candidacy.
“I’m going to ask about performance of duty while you’re in office,” said Enrile.
Roxas said he was kept in the dark and out of the loop in the covert police operations in Mamasapano that aimed to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hid alias “Marwan” and his henchman, Basit Usman.
Roxas earlier said the reopening of the probe intended to put him in bad light, but this was dismissed by Poe.
Prodded if Roxas can expect a non-partisan conduct of the Mamasapano investigation, Enrile said he is not interested in politics.
“If he wins, well and good. I will not include those things. I am telling you, I am no longer a politician. I’m only serving the country, I’m not the errand boy of anybody,” he added.
He also rejected the proposition of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for Poe and senators running for higher posts in the coming elections to inhibit themselves from the Mamasapano probe.
“Why would they inhibit, it’s their job,” Enrile countered.” Are they saying that because they are running for public office that they can’t be trusted anymore, they can’t perform their work impartially? Oh come on. You are not worthy of the trust of the people if you’re like that,” he said.
Those whom Enrile suggested to be invited are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.,Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II former Armed Forces Chief Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., former National Police Chief Alan Purisima, General Leonardo Espina, former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin Magalong, PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez, former SAF chief Getulio Napeñas and PNP intelligence chief Fernando Mendez Jr.