Press Release
January 18, 2016


Mr President,

I would like to confirm and, at the same time, place on the record some factual and legal antecedents leading to the putative re-opening of the Mamasapano Incident. These points, Mr. President, are significant to crystallize and clear-out the issue further emphasizing that fairness, justice and parity are the main hallmarks as we reopen the inquiry, as follows:

1) On March 18, 2015, our Committees, the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Peace and Reconciliation and Finance submitted Committee Report 120 on the various resolutions with regard to the Mamasapano battle, an incident which resulted in the death of 44 police commandos of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and 23 Moro fighters on January 25, 2015. The Report was a product of five (5) public hearings, five (5) executive sessions and based on voluminous documents submitted. The Committee Report (with some variance and separate comments from the members) was signed by 21 senators and was submitted to plenary for its consideration.

2) On October 7, 2015 and then again on November 9, 2015, the Minority Leader, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, took the floor and moved for the re-opening of the Mamasapano investigation.

3) When the issue of the re-opening of the Mamasapano Incident was discussed in the floor, I felt a sense of dilemma as it will open again the issue of bloody confrontation that marred the nation last year. But I am in agreement with the transparency call of the Minority Leader in particular because he may have new information which will supplement our Report, notably new perspectives as he directly discussed with survivors of the incidents and their families. Recalling my position, in reply and as Chairperson of the main committee that investigated, I said categorically that "I stand by the Committee Report submitted." I inquired too from the Senate leadership of the implication of the Rules of the Senate, in particular Section 32, on the planned conduct of additional hearing/s. This is significant as it will be our guide in our legislative action.

4) After Senators Sotto and Pimentel posited divergent views on the matter, the Senate President ruled to refer the different opinions to the Committee on Rules. The relevant portion of the Journal and transcript of the November 9, 2015 Senate session mentioned and in verbatim, Senate President Drilon said, "[t]he clear implication of the motion of Senator Pimentel is that if there is no new matter that is the basis of the motion to refer back to the committee, then the committee report is vacated. So, it is a question of fact. Now, that is why initially we referred the divergent opinions to the Committee on Rules because we cannot possibly decide on the question of fact during the plenary debates. So, the request of Senator Enrile is that the Committee on Rules be given a time frame within which to rule on this. And the Chair is proposing that they be given until Monday to rule on the issue. If that is acceptable to everyone, then we so refer to the Committee on Rules the interpretation of Section 32--not the motion of Senator Enrile--and the Committee on Rules is given until Monday, November 16, 2015 to rule on the application of Section 32.

5) In the late afternoon of January 4, 2016, I learned from media reports that "the Senate Committee on Rules approved the reopening of the investigation on the Mamasapano battle."

The news report further stated that "Before the recess for Christmas break last December, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, through Senate Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III, moved to have the investigation reopened, saying that there were still some relevant issues unanswered by the resource persons. Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the committee, said that whenever a fellow senator makes an assertion that there are new matters to take up "the body will take it in good faith that there are indeed new matters.

Mr. President, given the aforecited antecedents, may I posit the following inquiries:

1) When did the Committee on Rules decide on the matter pertaining to the applicability of Section 32 of our Rules as referred to it by the Senate President?

2) What was its decision specifically and may we be given a copy of the resolution or ruling of the Committee on Rules?

3) May I get the confirmation from the body if indeed, as requested by the Minority Leader, the Mamasapano hearing has been ordered re-opened by plenary.

4) Given the discussions on the floor regarding Section 32 of our Rules, what are the parameters, if any, of the hearings that will be conducted?

5) Of significance to, I appreciate Sen. Enrile for giving us the names of the resource persons he wants to be invited. May I, however, request the body, as a collegial institution, on how to treat the resource persons we invited in the past committee hearings and who testified in executive session as guests during that time, taking into consideration the sensitivity of their testimonies and the implication of the same to national security.

Mr. President, it has always been my resolute duty that fairness, impartiality and independence be the guiding lights in the conduct of public hearings. The Committee will be guided only by the institution's (the Senate's) and the people's search for the truth and I will not shirk from the mandate and responsibility accorded to me as a Senator and as the Chairperson of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

I shall do this, Mr President, not to grandstand or politicize nor reopen old wounds but, because it is my sworn duty as a Senator of the Republic to best serve the ends of justice and truth for all especially the 44 fallen heroes of the Special Action Force and their families. Sapagkat ang pinakamataas na paglilingkod ay dapat mula sa totoong katarungan.

Maraming Salamat po, Mr. President.

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