MANILA – Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday asked the officials of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to shut up and speak only in an official investigation on the “Fallen 44” Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Drilon made his reaction after sacked SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napenas told the media that suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima had prevented him from informing acting PNP chief Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina about the operation to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The sacked SAF commander said he only informed Espina during the actual operation upon order of Purisima.
Napales also contradicted the statement of AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Punzalan Catapang Jr. who claimed the PNP did not coordinate with the military regarding their operation that resulted in the killing of the 44 SAF men.
”I have only one message to them, shut up,” Drilon said in a media interview before Wednesday’s session.
Drilon said the AFP and the PNP officials should only speak during the official investigation “because they are no ordinary public officials”.
”I’m asking them to shut up and speak only during the official investigation. Don’t start throwing accusations at each other in public,” Drilon said.
”Given their position in the government, the tense situation should have no such kind of throwing of accusations by these officials,” he said.
Drilon said the officials involved have officials venue to express their sentiments such as the Senate inquiry set on Feb. 9 and the PNP board of inquiry.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III also pushes for the creation of the Truth Commission to be composed of people with “unimpeachable probity, competence, credibility and integrity.”
Guingona expressed elation for the public support drawn by his proposal to create an independent ad hoc fact-finding committee through legislation.
Guingona, meanwhile, announced the cancellation of the first hearing on his Senate Bill 2603 on Monday to give way on the queries on which committee will handle the public hearing.
”The hearing of the truth commission has been referred to two committees. Primary committee was the public order by Senator Grace Poe and the secondary is committee on peace under me. Senator Grace has graciously acceded to my hearing the bill. However, she wants to clarify the proper procedure of turning over the hearing from one panel to another,” Guingona explained.
Poe emphasized the need for the Senate to conduct immediate inquiry to prevent the officials involved from being too emotional from the public seeking for truth behind the SAF’s bloody encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) elements.
”That’s why it is so important to hear all the statement by different individuals involved here so that we will able to scrutinize that really transpired during the encounter,” Poe said.