By Butch Fernandez
SEN. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said President Aquino is facing a no-win situation after the Senate reopened its inquiry into the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos last year.
In an interview, Marcos said his view is based on testimonies obtained by Senate probers from ranking government officials who testified before the Senate Committee on Public Order on Wednesday.
For instance, there were conflicting assertions by key Aquino aides who were supposedly with the President as the SAF personnel were killed, Marcos said.
On January 25, 2015, nearly four dozen SAF commandos were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in a police operation that targeted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir.
Marcos said he doubts Mr. Aquino only knew about the “heavy casualties” much later in the day.
“I don’t believe that because, as I said, we have text exchanges ongoing from 4:30 in the morning of Sunday [January 25] all the way until 7 p.m. on Sunday with the President involved,” Marcos said. “How can he say he did not know?”
Marcos added if it is true Mr. Aquino “did not know, then he is not monitoring properly the operation that he put in place and implemented, without the knowledge of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and [the] PNP [Philippine National Police].”
Marcos said then-Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II admitted he was discussing the armed encounter with Mr. Aquino that day.
“Kung ano ang alam ng mga opisyal syrempre ire-report sa Pangulo ’yan; hindi naman itatago sa kanya [Mr. Aquino] ’yan.”
Marcos confirmed Sen. Grace Poe’s statement that there was no need to amend findings in the initial committee report on the Mamasano Massacre.
The issues revealed in the past investigation are becoming clearer, Marcos said in Tagalog.
According to Marcos, it was up to the lawyers to figure out the legal cases likely to be filed based on additional findings. But it was “clear that the massacre of SAF commandos would have been avoided if the President did not alter standard operating procedures in such an operation.”
In a separate statement, Sen. Francis G. Escudero lamented what he calls the “blame game” triggered by the tragedy.
Escudero said he decries that one year after the bloody Mamasapano incident, security officials who testified at the Senate inquiry “continue to engage in finger-pointing over who should take responsibility for the deaths of the SAF members.”