‘No gag order on Mamasapano’

Malacañang did not impose  a “gag order’’  on the Philippine National Police or the Special Action Force  pertaining to the   Jan. 25 Mamasapano operation against two terrorists.  

Communications Secretary  Herminio Coloma  on Tuesday issued the statement even as the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives called for a renewed probe into the botched operation following the emergence of a video footage that purportedly showed a Caucasian among the fatalities that included 44 SAF policemen.

Coloma said Malacañang will allow the PNP to conduct its own case review on the Mamasapano incident, following President Benigno Aquino III’s statement on an “alternative version” of the incident, and that the Palace will not interfere in the investigation.

“Those conducting a    ‘case review,’ we will leave it up to them to do what they have to do. And we will just wait for their report after the process is finished,” Coloma said.

 Aquino    said that the “alternative version” of the   Jan. 25   Mamasapano incident may be    “totally false.”  

“We are not discounting the possibility it is totally false, the    alternative version. Isn’t it that when a person is lying, he should adhere to the truth as much as possible?” said Aquino during a media interview at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City.

 Aquino likewise clarified that he did not say the “alternative version” of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash “is the truth”.

“I would just like to stress, we are not the ones who said that the alternative version is the truth,” Aquino  said.   

Aquino earlier said that there is an “alternative version of events,” which is “undergoing very intense scrutiny.”

Some 44 members of the Special Action Force, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants, and at least five civilians were killed in the Mamasapano bloodbath.

“There are those who are saying that there might be alternative versions. Now, there is an investigation, we would like to know the truth. The official story of the SAF, is it complete?”  Aquino asked.

Coloma said that Malacañang has no information on a newspaper report that an unidentified man who looked like a Caucasian was among the fatalities in the Mamasapano encounter.

PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez earlier said that the PNP would again look into the findings of the Board of Inquiry that looked into the Mamasapano incident.

But instead of the BOI digging deep into the incident, it should be the House that should reopen the probe, according to  Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.

Ridon said it was shown that the people talking in video were referring to the foreign casualty as “buddy,” and at one point referred to him as an “S2” or a military security and intelligence officer.

Ridon said the video may prove to be the  key in determining the real extent of US involvement in the botched operation.“First, let us be reminded of the Board of Inquiry’s revelation in their report that US forces, six Americans in particular, were present at the PNP SAF’s tactical command post a day before the bloody clash,” Ridon said.

“With the emergence of this piece of visual evidence to back that finding, I believe we can dig deeper and know more about the extent of Washington’s involvement in this whole affair,” Ridon said.     “But this will only happen if we reopen the probe,” he added.  

Ridon also noted that if Americans were not only providing real-time intelligence but were also present during the firefight, there would be serious implications, especially when it comes to issues of sovereignty and intervention in internal affairs of the state.

Meanwhile, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, member of the Makabayan Bloc, slammed President Aquino III’s “alternative truth.”

“This is not only unfortunate but a disgraceful  footnote to the heroísm of the SAF 44,” De la Cruz said.

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