MANILA – Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr. clarified on Sunday that Malacanang is not against the creation of a Truth Commission that will look into the bloody killing of 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) members in Maguindanao last Jan. 25.
”It is not proper to say that we are against the truth. We are not against searching for truth. As President Aquino said, ‘the truth will set us free,” Coloma clarified in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.
Coloma was reacting to the banner story of Manila Bulletin entitled ‘Palace against ‘Truth?’, a report based on the proposal of Senator Teofisto Guingona III to create a Truth Commission to investigate the killing of 44 SAF men in an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) elements.
Guingona proposed that the Truth Commission be composed of former Supreme Court Chief Justices Reynato Puno and Hilario Davide Sr. and former Sen. Wigberto Tañada.
”I think it’s a little bit misleading because at first glance if you will read, it looks as if we are against the truth. My statement is clear that at present we have formed a Board of Inquiry. On the other side (MILF), there is also a counterpart panel,” Coloma explained.
The PCOO chief also said even the International Monitoring Team and Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities has also initiative to come up with its own report.
”We must remember that they are in the area where the incident happened last week and they helped in the retrieval operation and effort to implement again the ceasefire,” Coloma said.
”What we have been saying was there were already initiatives. Perhaps we should allow this process to take place,” he added.
Coloma also said the Palace respects the proposal of Guingona and other lawmakers.
On Feb. 4, the Senate will conduct its own inquiry into the bloody encounter which took place as the 392-man SAP team served an arrest warrant against Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and BIFF commander Basit Usman.
”What I mean is let us allow all these processes to take course in finding the truth. What is important is our commitment to find the truth,” Coloma said.
Coloma also appealed to the public to stop making speculations that have no basis.
”It is better that at present, we should avoid speculations that have no basis,” he stressed.
At present, Coloma said the authorities are still confirming reports that Marwan was killed in the operation.