MANILA (Mabuhay) — Amid differing findings by various bodies conducting probes into the Mamasapano incident, Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday urged the Department of Justice to expedite the completion of its investigation report.
“Given the differing findings of fact, it is more imperative for the DOJ to expedite and finish its investigation, identify the culpable individuals and prosecute them,” Poe told reporters in a text message.
On the other hand, the senator commended the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for completing their investigation on the Mamasapano incident “without further delay, and (for) furnishing the Senate with a copy of the report.”
On Tuesday, the MILF submitted its report to the Senate.
Much earlier, the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry had submitted its report to the chamber, shortly after completing its probe on the incident.
Poe is the head of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which led the probe on the Mamasapano incident that resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force troopers, 18 MILF fighters, and five civilians.
Other committees involved in the Senate probe are the committees on peace, unification, and reconciliation; and finance.
“Understandably, we have divergent views on certain issues and events, particularly on the nature and gravity of the killing of the members of the 55th SAC. This may be because we had access to different sets of witnesses or we have a different appreciation of facts,” the senator said.
She said the Senate committees stand by its report, which has been signed by 20 senators, but she assured [the public] that they will still discuss the MILF report.
“As I announced previously, amendments (on the report) may be proposed and considered, when we resume session in May. How the MILF report should be treated, considering certain findings of fact which are contradictory to a portion of ours, shall also be discussed by the joint committees,” she said.
Poe said what is important is that “all of us continue on our pursuit of the truth and not to waver on our quest for genuine peace in Mindanao.”
Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the finance committee, said he has yet to read the entire report but he already expected that it will favor the MILF fighters.
On the MILF’s claim of “lack of coordination and violation of ceasefire agreement,” Escudero said law enforcement operation against high-value targets is exempt from coordination requirements.
The government considers Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman as high value targets.
“If indeed it is a violation of the ceasefire, why complain only against the SAF (Special Action Force)… especially given that the President himself approved the operation,” said Escudero.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier admitted that he was aware of the Oplan Exodus, the operation to neutralize Marwan and Usman, and approved it. He also earlier claimed responsibility over the incident.
For his part, acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the MILF report is the best argument against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“It proves that they have no control over the armed groups and criminals in their area. It appears now that we have to conduct peace talks with others instead,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online.
“Bakit nila pinag-iinitan si PO2 (Christopher) Lalan, eh, he was just trying to survive? I’d rather believe him than believe their so-called witness,” the senator added.
Sotto was referring to the lone survivor of the blocking force of the Mamasapano operation. P02 Lalan is being accused of killing helpless MILF members who were sleeping inside a mosque during the bloody encounter. (MNS)