MANILA — Malacanang on Monday reiterated it is still awaiting the full report of the investigation by the Philippine National Police-established Board of Inquiry to give justice to the death of the Fallen 44.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Benigno Aquino III will take full responsibility of what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 after investigations by the Board of Inquiry has been done.
He cited the statement made by the President last February 6 wherein the Chief Executive said he takes it upon himself, being the Father of the Nation and the Commander-in-Chief, to be accountable for the death of 44 members of Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF), who is now known as the Fallen 44.
“Mahalaga sa pagtamo ng katarungan para sa kanila ang pagbatid sa buong katotohanan (Finding the truth is important for them to achieve justice),” he said.
“Ang mga kasalukuyang pagdinig ng BOI at ng Kongreso ay mahahalagang proseso tungo sa pagtamo ng layuning ito (The ongoing probe of the BOI and Congress are both important parts of the process of attaining this goal [achieving justice]),” he added.
Coloma’s statement was issued in response to the call of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas for the “full and satisfactory” accounting of the incident.
Villegas, in a series of posts in his social media account, said “The President and his advisers must give a full and satisfactory accounting of their actions in respect to this tragic loss. The targets of the SAF operations were characterized as ‘high value targets.’ If the police went after them, It can only be because they were ordered to do so. Policemen do not order themselves, not even members of the Special Action Force.”
The Board of Inquiry has yet to issue its official report on its investigation but based on its presentation before the Senate last week, the troopers made some modifications on the operation’s plan due to among others the difficult terrain in the area and strong current of the river.
This turned fatal after the SAF members who were tasked to directly arrest Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan, and Filipino Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman, alias Basit Usman, had a “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as well as members of the Islamist militant organization Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and some armed groups.