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Palace cool to renewed probe

IT IS up to Senator Grace Poe whether she will have the Mamasapano investigation case reopened, Malacañang said on Friday a day after the senator said she wants to reopen the Senate probe in the incident that caused the death of 44 police commandos last January.

“We defer to the senator as to how she intends to proceed with the Mamasapano investigation in the Senate,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a text message to the Malacañang Press Corps.

As chairman of the Senate committee on public order, Poe led the Senate investigation into the botched Oplan Exodus, in which the police commandos were killed by Muslim rebels, including members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been holding peace talks with the government.

Poe said she was interested to hear the “alternative version” claimed by President Benigno Aquino III after he was found to be “ultimately responsible” for the deaths of the 44 commandos who were sent on a covert mission to neutralize Malaysian terrorist Zukifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his henchman, bomb maker Basit Usman.

The commandos were placed under the supervision of former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima who was suspended for corruption at the time of the operation.

Poe submitted her report on the Mamasapano massacre to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“While the President was fully aware that Purisima was preventively suspended by the Ombudsman on Dec. 4, 2014, and that Director Leonardo Espina was designed PNP OIC, still, he allowed Purisima to join the Jan. 9, 2016 meeting at Bahay Pangarap where a sensitive and classified PNP operation was being discussed and instructed him to coordinate with the AFP,” Poe said in her report.

While the Ombudsman did not include the President among those it recommended to be charged, Poe stood pat on her panel’s findings.

But Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa declined to answer queries from Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares about the new leads mentioned by the President.

Appearing before the House appropriations committee during the budget hearing, Ochoa invoked the confidentiality of communication with the President.

Ochoa said he cannot give any comment on the questions raised by Colmenares about new developments in the Mamasapano tragedy because these were confidential.

Ochoa also said he still needs to secure authority from the President to disclose the new leads.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said a reopening of the investigation would require a vote by the entire plenary.

He said the matter was outside the jurisdiction of Poe’s committee, since it has already submitted its report.


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