SENATE Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said on Wednesday there is no need for President Benigno Aquino III to appear at the resumption of the Senate investigation on the Mamasapano incident, but he may have to explain why he is being held “ultimately reponsible” for the incident.
“I don’t need the President there. He may have to explain, but I don’t need him to show this incidents. He can just watch, he can just listen,” Enrile said
The 91-year-old senator conceded that it was the President’s prerogative whether to appear in a congressional investigation, “but he must not say that I have any grudge against him or this is just politics.”
“This is not politics, Mr. President. This is a job for the nation. There are no exceptions for me here, whether you are the president or a janitor or a senator like myself, you will be accountable and I will answer his accusations. I also have accusations against him, he has to answer that if he can,” he said.
In seeking the reopening of the Mamasapano probe, Enrile wanted to know the President’s role during the deadly operation, and in particular, what he did to rescue the government forces.
When informed that the President, as a commander in chief, had reportedly admitted responsibility over the death of the SAF 44, the senator said: “It is easy to say that, but he must be accountable to the [victims’] families, to the public, to the country and to himself. We are talking about the country here.”
“If China attacks us and his character and actions are like that, is that appropriate?” Enrile asked, noting Aquino’s “repeated failure of leadership” in several instances during his presidency which ends on June 30.
But Malacañang replied that despite the Mamasapano incident, Aquino has maintained the people’s approval and trust as shown by public opinion surveys.
“President Aquino has demonstrated his capability as a leader through several crisis situations during his administration. He has kept faith with the people’s mandate by serving with integrity, dedication and courage,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
“This is reflected in the people’s support for the President’s candidates during the 2013 elections and the consistently-high performance, approval and trust ratings which he has maintained throughout the last five-and-a-half years,” said Coloma.
Enrile has vowed to establish Aquino’s role in the Mamasapano encounter, which left 44 Special Action Force police commandos dead on Jan. 25, 2015.