Noy: ‘Alternative’ could be false

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said Monday that the “alternative version of events” in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre that he raised could prove to be “totally false.”

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

Aquino also said he never said the alternative version of events of the Mamasapano operation in which 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed was the truth.

“There is an allegation that the  narrative  [of the SAF] is wrong. So that is the job, to know the truth.  First version, the alternative version, a combination of both versions?” Aquino said.


Earlier, Aquino said the alternative version of events was “undergoing very intense scrutiny.”

In this version, the Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan was killed, not by the SAF commandos, but by one of his own aides.

This was the same version of events narrated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which also took part in the massacre.

The covert Mamasapano operation, sanctioned by the President, aimed at neutralizing Marwan and his understudy, Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman.

In his remarks Monday, Aquino also said both the SAF version and the alternative version might both be wrong.

“How can we know the real truth?  We need testimony and evidence, and these are being gathered,” he said.

Aquino also said he cannot discuss all the details of the Mamasapano incident because of an ongoing investigation.

A report earlier said that Marwan was killed by his aide, contrary to the claim of the SAF.

Aquino refused to comment on the report, however.

Aquino also declined to give out details of the operation because this will only put a “bull’s eye” on the witnesses the government is after.

The issue on who really killed Marwan became the subject of news after the President said government investigators were looking at an ‘’alternative version’’ of the events in Mamasapano.

Lawmakers on Monday slammed  Aquino’s search for an “alternative truth” even as they lamented the snail-paced justice that should have been served to the families and relatives of the 44 police commandos killed in the operation.

The leader of the independent minority bloc in the House, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, said the President would only sow further confusion on what really transpired in the bloody anti-terrorism operation to neutralize Marwan.

“The people cannot understand the President’s alternative truth and its objective. The resounding call of the loved ones and supporters is justice for the SAF 44. Where is the compassion for the victims?” he said.

“This alleged alternative truth is not helping to bring justice for the victims,” Romualdez added.

Reps. Gus Tambunting of Parañaque, Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela party-list also said that the President cannot escape accountability for the 44 deaths.

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said whatever version of the truth emerges, the President is not liable.

Ilagan slammed the President for being “notorious” in reversing the ‘truth.’ 

“That is a typical of Aquino who lives in his own world.  He has his own reality,” Ilagan said.

“What happened in Mamasapano is being edited to suit his own world view.  But this is not a video game that can be modified to adjust to his playing capabilities so that the outcome is in his favor,” Ilagan added.

Tambunting, member of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, said there can be no “alternative version” of the truth.

“Truth has only one version.  Otherwise, it will just be a statement of convenience not worthy of any trust or credence, just like a snake’s forked tongue,” Tambunting said.

Alejano, a former mutineer, expressed dismay, saying Aquino’s statement dismissed the heroism of the SAF 44.

“What is important is we were able to crush Marwan, and that we serve justice to the victims,” Alejano said.

Bello berated the President for coming out with another version of the story.

“Too late in the day for the President to coming out with a different version. This will only further erode his credibility on the issue.  His ‘bosses’ have rendered a judgment,” Bello said.

Also on Monday, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to be true to her word that the people responsible for the 44 deaths in Mamasapano will be punished.

Binay’s spokesman for political affairs,  Rico Quicho, also questioned why Malacanang was busy gathering evidence that would disprove the story narrated by then SAF commander, Director Getulio Napenas.

Some active and retired police and military officials said he sudden resurrection of the botched Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus in Mamasapano was designed to move legislators into passing the Bangsamor Basic Law (BBL), which was derailed in the aftermath of the massacre.

“(Aquino) should accept that BBL is dead,”  a retired general speaking on condition of anonymity.

He added that Aquino was using the massacre to push for the passage of the BBL.

 PNP chief Ricardo Marquez said the police would cooperate in any re-investigation of the Mamasapano incident.

“Everybody is interested to get to the bottom of this incident so that we could put closure to what happened in Mamasapano,” Marquez added.

Last week, Senator Grace Poe proposed the reopening the Senate investigation of the massacre, citing President Aquino’s remarks about the alternative version of events.

Another military official who asked not to be named said Aquino was giving more credence to the MILF than the SAF.

“I am seeing it as a vehicle to give credit to the MILF in the operations against the terrorists inside their lairs,” the military official said.

 The latest pronouncement by Aquino, another military official said, could only further demoralize the SAF.

“The entire SAF is suffering from low morale. It’s like adding insult to injury,” he said.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the alternative version suggested by Aquino was merely an excuse for failure and a cover-up.

“I simply do not understand why he made the pronouncement,” said Marcos in an interview.

But Marcos said the incident was already investigated in the Senate and they were not influenced by anybody. He said the results of their investigation and those of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Army were the same.

The Senate found the President ultimately responsible for the botched police operation.

Marcos considered the President’s remarks “very strange” after he remained silent on the incident for a long time. With  Macon Ramos-Araneta and Vito Barcelo

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