Visayan solons reject calls for Aquino’s resignation, impeachment

President Benigno S. Aquino III condoles with the family of the fallen Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) Troopers during the Necrological Service at the NCRPO Multi-Purpose Center of Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City on Friday (January 30). (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III condoles with the family of the fallen Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) Troopers during the Necrological Service at the NCRPO Multi-Purpose Center of Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City on Friday (January 30). (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) –Members of the Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Thursday rejected calls for the resignation or impeachment of President Benigno Aquino III following the bloody Mamasapano incident last January 25.

“We will not support any calls for the resignation or the impeachment of President Benigno S. Aquino III amid the controversy over the recent operation of the SAF (Special Action Force) of the Philippine National Police in Mamasapano, Maguindanao,” the 34-member group said in a manifesto.

The manifesto was signed by the bloc’s 34 members led by Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas and Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez..

The manifesto came a day after opposition lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc renewed calls for Aquino’s impeachment following the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Mamasapano incident where 44 SAF troopers were killed in an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters combatants.

In their manifesto, the Visayan bloc said although they honor the “extraordinary” bravery of the 44 policemen, they are “steadfast” in their position that “President Benigno S. Aquino should neither resign nor be impeached, because of the Mamasapano case.”

“Change in administration should be the farthest solution to what happened in Maguindano and should not be our response to our currently hurting nation,” they said.

Instead of pushing for Aquino’s resignation or impeachment, the Visayan lawmakers said the House of Representatives must focus on an immediate investigation on the Mamasapano incident.

“The probe should immediately identify those who should be accountable for what happened, ensure that perpetrators of the massacre suffer the full force of our penal laws, and develop remedies that would prevent another incident from happening in the future to the men in uniform,” they said.

The House committee on public order is set to start its probe on the Mamasapano incident on Wednesday next week, with suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima as among those invited.

Reports have it that Aquino and Purisima have a hand in the Mamasapano operation.

Aquino, in a televised speech last week, admitted being aware of the PNP’s plan to arrest Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bombmaker Abdulbasit Usman, but did not categorically say who gave the go-signal for the January 25 operation.

The Makabayan bloc has said the Mamasapano incident can be considered an added ground for Aquino’s impeachment. The seven-member bloc said it will urge more members of the House to vote in favor of the existing impeachment complaint against Aquino, which remains pending at the plenary.

The House committee on justice chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr.  in September last year junked the three impeachment complaints filed by the Makabayan bloc  against Aquino for being “insufficient in substance.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Party Secretary General and Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said there is “no legal or even moral ground” to call for Aquino’s resignation as well as on the claims that the President can be charged before the International Criminal Court.

“His order for the PNP to arrest or neutralize Marwan was a lawful order. Why should he be faulted for giving a lawful order?” Sarmiento said in a statement.

“He provided the general guidance which became the basis of the operation but he had no direct hand on the detailed planning on how the operation would be carried out and its actual execution,” he added. (MNS)

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