14-hour session ends Mamasapano House probe

The House of Representatives ended its investigation on the deadly Mamasapano incident with a grueling 14-hour closed-door session that ended at 12 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

The joint public order and safety, and the peace, reconciliation and unity committees wrapped up its investigation on the tragedy after three days of public hearing and a 14 hour executive session on Tuesday.

Negros Oriental Representative Jeffrey Ferrer, who chairs the public order and safety committee, said he was satisfied with the probe which resulted in new information to back up the investigation of the Senate, the police Board of Inquiry, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the International Monitoring Team.

“We adjourned the hearing at 12 midnight, 14 hours of executive session. There are new information that will also help this investigation,” Ferrer said in a text message Wednesday.

The chamber investigated the incident that threatened deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) due to the involvement of the MILF in the attack on police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos sent to Mamasapano on January 25 to hunt down international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.

The bill seeks to implement the government peace deal with the MILF for a politically autonomous Bangsamoro entity.

The botched operation cost the lives of 44 SAF commandos, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians.

Not all solons were pleased with the outcome of the House probe.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said though the executive session was intended to tackle US involvement in the operation and the lack of coordination ahead of the mission, answers were not yet given to shed light on these matters.

Zarate still rued the decision of the majority not to allow militant solons to send their 20 questions to President Aquino to determine whether he ordered government forces to stand down or hold back in consideration of the peace process.

He added that the families of the SAF were not even given time to air their concerns.

“I am disappointed and not satisfied for 3 main reasons: 1.the majority-controlled committees failed and refused to even send the 20 questions that we want President Aquino to answer relative to his accountability 2. the involved US personnel and concerned American officials were not also summoned or even invited to also shed light on the US role, participation and accountability in this botched anti-terror operation, and 3. the majority-controlled committees also did not allow the relatives of the victims, particularly the SAF 44 and civilians who were present during the previous hearings, to talk and also present their testimonies, as well as state their demands,” Zarate said in a text message.

“As far as the executive session is concerned, the 14-hour session did not disclose anything more substantial that were not already known to the public,” he said.

Among those who attended Tuesday’s executive session were sacked SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas, resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, PNP acting officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Armed Forces chief of staff Gregorio Catapang, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer.

Absent was MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

Since the Mamasapano probe wrapped up, the House ad hoc Bangsamoro committee is set to resume its hearing on the BBL on April 20, months after discussions on the were suspended.

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