POE ASSURES REOPENING OF MAMASAPANO HEARING WILL NOT BE USED TO ADVANCE POLITICAL AGENDABY JELLY F. MUSICO

MANILA – Senator Grace Poe allayed fears on Friday that the reopening of the Senate investigation into the Mamasapano clash will be used by the senators and possible resource speakers to advance their political agenda in the May 2016 elections.

Poe, who will preside over the inquiry as chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order, assured the public that the committee will not allow grandstanding and will immediately examine the supposed new information on the incident.

”I will not allow to use it for politics. The questions should be constructive. We will not allow personal and grandstanding,” Poe said in a press statement.

Poe reacted to the statement of President Benigno S. Aquino III that politics played major role in the reopening of the Mamasapano incident that left 66 people, including 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) troopers, dead on Jan. 25 last year.

Aside from Poe, who is running for president in the May polls, five other senators – Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan III, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV — are running for vice president while others are pursuing reelection.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was in detention on plunder charges when the hearings were conducted last year, moved for the reopening of the investigation, citing new personal information on the incident.

Upon the approval of Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who heads the Committee on Rules, Poe scheduled the hearing on Jan. 25, 2016, exactly one year after the bloody encounter between government forces and Moro rebels.

Enrile is a member of the opposition while administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas was secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) during the Mamasapano incident.

”Opposition or administration, if there are new information, why not hear it? According to Senator Enrile, he has more questions to ask,” Poe said.

The senator, however, said she herself was not aware of any new information on the Mamasapano case, citing executive sessions with former Philippine National Police-SAF chief Gen. Getulio Napeñas Jr., one of the key resource persons in last year’s Senate inquiry. But she said she was open to any new evidence that would come to light.

Poe, the frontrunner in the presidential race based on surveys, also said that she will only be there to moderate and will not use the proceedings to put political rivals, especially Roxas, in a bad light.

Aside from Enrile’s personal information, which could be potential evidence, Poe said it is also important to hear from the families of the fallen SAF members if they have received assistance from the government.

Poe reiterated that the reopening of the investigation will not affect or void the earlier committee report signed by 21 senators. PNA / northboundasia.com