MANILA — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Friday assailed the malicious misinformation being spread on social media alleging that she talked to a legislator mentioning an intent to “whitewash” the tragic events that unfolded in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.
“That is a falsehood,” Deles said, referring to the Facebook post. “We certainly want accountability and will pursue truth and justice for those who have fallen in Mamasapano,” she said.
“I did have two meetings with two senators the day after the Mamasapano incident. One was with Senator [Ferdinand] “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and the other with Senate President Franklin Drilon,” Deles recalled. “But I never adverted to anything about a plan to ‘make the incident disappear’ or for a ‘whitewash.’”
On Jan. 26, Deles was in the Senate to attend a hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, organized by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and presided by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. Marcos was in attendance during said hearing.
Marcos heads the Senate Committee on Local Government, which deliberates on the Bangsamoro bill jointly with the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation chaired by Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III. The Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago later on became a third referral on the BBL.
“After the hearing, I met with Senator Marcos in his office to discuss the Mamasapano incident over which the Senator expressed concerns while we were still in the meeting room,” Deles said. “There was nothing in our conversation that suggested any intent to whitewash the tragic incident. Certainly, we share the utmost efforts and hope of gaining clarity and accountability on what happened,” she emphasized.
According to records of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Deles’ meeting with Senator Marcos started at about 1:30 p.m. of Jan. 26 and lasted for about 15 minutes.
”We actually concluded our meeting by agreeing to wait for more information to come in on what really transpired, and share what we can with each other,” Deles further said.
They also agreed that a meeting between the Senator and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal may be arranged to discuss the Senator’s concerns with regard to the Mamasapano incident. Said meeting happened a week after, on Feb. 2.
In a Facebook post of one Carmen Pedrosa, she posted a copy of a correspondence sent by a certain “Ricky,” who wrote about an audio recording of a meeting between Deles and a legislator. The said correspondence supposedly included an audio file as an attachment with file name “Bbm And Deles.m4a.” The “Bbm” may be referring to the initials of Senator Bongbong Marcos.
The peace adviser noted that if said audio recording does exist, it should be a cause for alarm as it is a conversation with the Senator held in his office that neither of them knew of, and would thus be a violation of Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wire Tapping Law.
Deles said that her office has already alerted Marcos about the malicious misinformation being spread to mislead the public.
“We have already conveyed my apologies to Sen. Marcos for the possibility of him being affected by all these misinformation being spread against me,” Deles said.
The peace adviser shared that she also had a separate meeting with Senator Drilon on the same date, where they discussed updates on the deliberations of the BBL, and related to him the same information on the Jan. 25 incident that she also related to Senator Marcos.
Another malicious misinformation
A week after the Mamasapano incident, a newspaper published a story that quoted an alleged source who said Deles advised President Aquino not to send reinforcements to the beleaguered troops of the Special Action Force (SAF).
This was likewise categorically denied by Deles and according to a letter from the OPAPP sent to The Daily Tribune– the newspaper that published the malicious story– no such advice was sought nor given and that the report is based on an unnamed source. The letter slammed the newspaper for not even seeking the peace adviser’s comment on the issue.
“No call was ever made by President Aquino to me early in the morning on Sunday, 25 January 2015, to ask me to call the MILF to withdraw its forces,” Deles noted. She also emphasized that she was not part of the Marwan operations at any stage, nor has she taken part in any such security enforcement operations.
“We all want the truth and accountability of the Mamasapano incident. We all grieve on what happened. I appeal to the public to keep a critical eye to misinformation and malicious reports which aim to divert issues and make personal attacks, but will not help in the collective efforts for justice and peace,” said Deles.