MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will push for the inclusion of testimonies made during closed-door sessions in the Senate’s investigation report on the Mamasapano fiasco, saying the draft report does not reflect the whole truth.
Trillanes, who did not sign the draft report, said it focuses too much on President Aquino’s responsibility and seems to have been swayed by popular opinion without reflecting what actually happened on the ground.
In particular, the senator said he wants to make public the statements of junior officers of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, whose help was sought for members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) who were caught in an encounter with rebel forces.
Forty-four SAF commandos died in what the Senate report labeled as a massacre.
Trillanes believes the public needs to know, based on the military officers’ testimonies, what other SAF troopers on the ground did while their comrades were engaged in a firefight.
He said he will make the move to release their testimonies during plenary discussions on the committee report.
“Sila ang nakasaksi kung ano ang ginawa ng SAF (They witnessed what the SAF did),” Trillanes told reporters, referring to the 6th Infantry Division officers.
“Marami sa mga senador ngayon ang nag-iingat na kantihin ang SAF kasi nakuha nila ang simpatya. Pero sa akin, kung ano ang totoo, ilabas namin (Many senators are too careful not to offend the SAF because they have gained their sympathy. But for me, we must come out with the truth).”
Asked how including the testimonies would change the committee report, Trillanes said, “Mag-iiba ang pananaw n’yo kay General Napenas, doon sa SAF, doon sa Army, kay Presidente Aquino (Your views about General Napenas, SAF, the Army, and President Aquino will change).”
The Senate held five executive sessions for its probe into the Mamasapano incident, particularly on matters that may compromise national security if discussed in a public hearing. Statements made during executive sessions are strictly confidential, and it would take a majority vote from senators to make them public.
Trillanes said he has made up his mind about not signing the report, which already has the endorsement of 20 senators.
“This was the best opportunity for the Senate to steer this whole investigation into the right direction, the direction towards the truth. But we missed it,” he said.
“Rather, kung saan ang public opinion ngayon, doon natin kinonform ang committee report (Rather, the committee report conformed with public opinion),” Trillanes added.
‘Hindi naman ito popularity contest. Investigation ito (This is not a popularity contest. This is an investigation).”
The report holds President Aquino ultimately responsible for the outcome of the Mamasapano mission, and recommends charges against resigned police chief Alan Purisima, and relieved Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napenas.
Trillanes said the President has accepted responsibility for the Mamasapano operation. But the senator believes Aquino may not be held liable for it, echoing the administration’s line that the President was fed wrong information about the status of the operation.
For him, Napenas has the biggest liability for the bungled mission – from planning to execution.
‘SORRY CAN’T BE FORCED’
“Si Presidente Aquino ba ang dahilan kung bakit namatay ang 44 (Was President Aquino the reason for the deaths of the 44)?” Trillanes said. “Nasigurado natin sa imbestigasyon, hindi po gano’n (We ascertained in the investigation that that’s not a case).”
He also believes the President must not be forced to apologize for the incident.
“Ang pagso-sorry, kusa ‘yan (Saying sorry should be voluntary),” said Trillanes. “”Pagka ayaw ibigay ang pagso-sorry, hindi mo ‘yan mapipilit. Walang value ‘yon (When someone does not want to say sorry, you may not force him and it the apology won’t have value).” (MNS)