Duterte: no need for an “Agrava Commission” to probe Mamasapano

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 January) — President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer create an “Agrava Commission” type of body that would probe the January 15, 2015 tragedy in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, as he promised last year to the families of the 44 slain policemen, as cases have been filed against former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, under whose administration the tragic operations left 66 persons dead.

Hindi na … Tutal, naka-demanda na eh. (No more.. Anyway, they have been sued). They are facing charges. What more do you want? We can only presume that they did it in the wrong way,” he said during a media interview early Saturday, upon arrival from India.

“Nandiyan na, naka-demanda na si PNoy,” (It’s there. President Aquino had been charged), Duterte said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does the signature fist gesture with the widows and families of the fallen 44 Special Action Force troopers who died in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano also attended the meeting held at the Heroes Hall in Malacañan Palace on January 24, 2017. KING RODRIGUEZ/Presidential Photo

On November 8 last year, the Office of the Ombudsman filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Aquino before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Mamasapano Tragedy.

Aquino was accused of conspiring with former PNP chief Purisima, who was then under preventive suspension, and then SAF chief Getulio Napeñas in implementing Oplan Exodus, the operation in Mamasapano.

In December 2014, the Ombudsman suspended Purisima and 11 other police officials for six months for alleged misuse of gun license couriers’ fees.

The information sheet said Aquino allowed Purisima to attend the January 9, 2015 meeting in Bahay Pangarap, where the top secret operation was discussed.

Aquino also reportedly instructed Purisima to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and was communicating with Purisima on January 25, 2015.

Aquino also reportedly “allowed himself to be persuaded, induced, or influence” to violate the PNP chain of command, the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Purisima, and OIC chief Leonardo Espina’s order against Purisima and other suspended police officials to cease and desist from performing duties and functions of their offices.

In Manila on Thursday, January 25, Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court to direct the Ombudsman to file homicide charges against Aquino instead.

Calida’s manifestation said 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide should be filed against Aquino, Purisima, and Napeñas.

“Agrava Commission”

The tragedy that Sunday, January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano led to the death of 66 persons — 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF), 17 from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) and five civilians — and spelled the death of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law under the Aquino administration.

Duterte promised families of the slain SAF 44 during a meeting on January 24, 2017 at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang that he will “create a commission of seven kagaya ng Agrava Commission noon panahon ni Marcos” to investigate what really happened in Mamasapano.

He said he would appoint “men of integrity and honor,” mostly justices of the Supreme Court, and would bestow on the commission the powers similarly given to the Agrava Commission that investigated the 1983 assassination of opposition leader and former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.

FALLEN POLICEMEN. Fellow police officers carry the caskets of the elite police commandos slain in Mamasapano for transport home on board two Philippine Air Force C-130 on 29 Jan 2015. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

“I will bestow upon that commission the powers that was exactly given to Agrava Commission” and “at the end of the year .. they can have the truth,” Duterte said adding the investigation should cover the time the plan was hatched, who were with President Aquino when they discussed the plan, “maybe you can call the Embassy of the America, what was your role there and to whom the (reward) money was given?”

Questions

He told the SAF 44 families last year that he had several questions about Mamasapano.

Addressing Aquino, he said, “I do not have any quarrel with you. I do not want to disturb your life now that you are retired and so with General Purisima and the others” but the many investigations conducted on Mamasapano “unfortunately left a void” as so many issues were left hanging and the families of the SAF 44 victims cannot rest unless the issues are addressed.

“Otherwise, they will bring to their grave the hurt and agony that they had to injure losing a husband, a father, a brother,” Duterte added.

Duterte said he had his own questions, among them:

  • “Why was the SAF deployed to the area when SAF is organized for an urban setting,” didn’t know the terrain of Mamasapano and there is an Army division in the area with several brigades “practically surrounding the Mamasapano area.”
  • “Why was it under wraps? And why did you hide the fact that it was actually an operation of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency of the United States)?
  • Why was the finger of Zulkifli bin hir alias Marwan, a Malaysian high value target of the operation, delude the nation that it was delivered to Camp Crame for the forensics when it was actually given to the Americans “to confirm that it was indeed Marwan”?
  • Why was there no coordination with the military? Why did you not coordinate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when there is an agreement on prior coordination in the pursuit of criminals in their areas? “It was really a violation. That is why na-stymie kayo”
  • Why were the air assets not deployed from the nearby areas of Maguindanao, General Santos City or Davao City?
  • “Why did you enter into an operation which was really placing in jeopardy the lives (of the SAF)?”
  • “Where’s the five million (dollars reward money from the US state department)? Bakit tatagu-taguin ‘yang pera? So the five million went to whom? … who was so interested in the money?”

“Let it be brought to the open. It was an American adventure with the cooperation of some and apparently with your (Aquino’s) blessing,” Duterte said. He said it is not enough that Aquino said he would take full responsibility. “Sabihin mo sa Pilipino, sabihin mo sa akin kung paano ka nagkasala? At anong ginawa ninyo bakit you fed the soldiers to the lion’s den, to be eaten by death?” Duterte asked.

Duterte issued Proclamation 164 on February 21 last year, declaring January 25 a “Day of National Remembrance” in honor of the sacrifice of the 44 SAF personnel slain in Mamasapano. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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