Aquino slams opportunists in Mamasapano debacle

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016. Filed under: Philippine News
President Benigno S. Aquino III presents  the Presidential Mineral Industry and Environmental Award to executives of SR Metals , Inc for Surface Mining Operation Category during the presentation Wednesday, January 20, 2016 in Malacanang. The Presidential  Mineral Industry Environmental Award was officially established in 1997 by virtue of Executive Order No. 399 in compliance with the policy that mineral exploration and mining operation shall be pro-environment and pro-people. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III presents the Presidential Mineral Industry and Environmental Award to executives of SR Metals , Inc for Surface Mining Operation Category during the presentation Wednesday, January 20, 2016 in Malacanang. The Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award was officially established in 1997 by virtue of Executive Order No. 399 in compliance with the policy that mineral exploration and mining operation shall be pro-environment and pro-people. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday hit back at people who he believes are exploiting the deaths of Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who participated in the Mamasapano mission last year.

In his speech during the conferment of the Medal of Valor and Distinguished Conduct Medal on 47 slain and surviving SAF troopers, Aquino warned the PNP against entities who want to sow disunity in the institution.

“May ilan pa ring sasamantalahin ang kontroberysa sa inyong hanay para buwagin ang ating pagkakaisa, silang mga gagamitin ang trahedya para sa pansariling agenda,” Aquino said.

“Tiwala akong patuloy ninyong tatahakin ang landas na tama at makatwiran, patuloy niyong ipagtatanggol ang ating mga boss.”

Still recovering from perhaps his worst political crisis as president, Aquino is again under pressure as the Senate is set to reopen its investigation on the Mamasapano clash on Wednesday, January 27.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has claimed that he has evidence that will expose the liability of the president.

A retired police official has also surfaced, claiming he has “critical evidence” of an attempt to cover up the events surrounding the encounter.

Retired Chief Superintendent Diosdado Valeroso described the evidence as a digital audio recording of a conversation between a high-ranking government official and a legislator that occurred a day or two after the clash.

Valeroso, former district regional director for administration of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), refused to disclose what the conversation was about.

But he told reporters that during the conversation, one of them was telling the other not to mind what happened in Mamasapano as it may delay the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Aquino told the relatives of the slain SAF troopers that he himself is getting anxious with the slow pace of justice for their loved ones.

“Gaya ninyo ay ako man naiinip sa bagal ng pag-usad ng sistemang pangkatarungan sa ating bansa. Ika nga, justice delayed is justice denied,” he said. “Puspusan ang ating pagsisikap para makamit ang hustisya.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently closed its preliminary investigation into criminal charges against 90 individuals charged for the bloody Mamasapano encounter.

The case is now up for resolution after no one among the respondents, apart from four who had earlier submitted their counter-affidavits in the previous hearing, came to submit their defenses and counter-affidavits.

The complaint for direct assault with murder and theft against the 90 respondents involves the death of 35 SAF commandos who belonged to the blocking force.

Aquino urged Congress to revisit the PNP law in order to create a tougher punishment against police commanders who renege on their responsibility to protect their subordinates.

“Ang panawagan natin sa Kongreso, suriin ang PNP Law, tukuyin ang mga probisyong pumipigil sa agarang pagpapataw ng parusa sa mga pinunong nagkukulang sa kanilang tungkulin,” he said.

Even as critics blame him for the botched mission, Aquino has blamed then SAF chief Getulio Napeñas for pushing through with the operation without properly coordinating with the military, which would have given timely and ample support for the beleaguered elite cops.

“Ayaw nating maulit ang mga trahedyang dulot lamang ng pagsuway sa mga patakaran. Hindi makatiwarng magpatuloy ang sistema kung saan may karaniwang indibidwal na ang pumapasan ng mas mabibigat na obligasyon dahil sa kapabayaan ng iilan,” he said.

Napeñas himself has been coordinating with Enrile. The former SAF chief is running for senator in 2016 under Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance. (MNS)

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