MANILA — A Palace official on Tuesday urged all sectors to give the Philippine National Police-formed Board of Inquiry the chance to freely conduct its investigation instead of casting doubts this early.
In a briefing, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government is continuously doing what it can to get to the bottom of what really happened in the operations at Mamasapano, Maguindanao that resulted in the death of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
“Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang nasimulan ng proseso ng Board of Inquiry ng PNP upang alamin ang bawat aspeto ng isinagawang operasyon mula planning hanggang sa retrieval ng mga labi ng mga nasawing kasapi ng PNP-SAF (Let’s give the on-going investigation of PNP’s Board of Inquiry a chance to determine all aspects of the operation from planning up to the retrieval of bodies of the PNP-SAF members who died),” he said.
Aside from the PNP’s Board of Inquiry, the International Monitoring Team and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities are also conducting their respective investigations.
Similarly, a measure has been submitted in the House of Representative targeted to form a fact-finding commission to be called Mamasapano Truth Commission.
Coloma said the fact-finding groups that were formed or would be formed to investigate the SAF operations would find useful whatever information the Board of Inquiry would get.
Citing statements by PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Coloma said the Board of Inquiry is conducting a comprehensive operational audit to determine who should be liable to the SAF operations in Mamasapano and whether operational procedures were violated during that event.
”Lahat ng mga mahahalagang impormasyong ito ay inaasahan ding maipaalam sa Senado at Kamara na sumang-ayon sa pagpapaliban ng nakatakdang pagdinig hinggil sa insidente (All the information that would be gathered [by the Board of Inquiry] are expected to be relayed to the Senate and the House of Representatives, which agreed to postpone their respective planned inquiry on the incident),” he said.
The Mamasapano operations claimed the lives of 44 SAF members on January 25, 2015, which the government attributes to “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The SAF members were on a mission to serve the arrest warrants on two suspected terrorists – Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman and Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya (JI).
There are suggestions that President Benigno Aquino III should face the planned Congress-approved fact-finding body to give his version on the Mamasapano operations.
Coloma said he has not asked the President about this but stressed that the President has already explained the current known facts about the incident. This was made through a televised speech Wednesday last week.
He said the President has also asked the SAF members who got wounded in the operations to tell their stories to help the Board of Inquiry.
He added that the Board is expected to submit a progress report of their investigation within this week.