Makabayan bloc’s 20 questions to President Aquino on Mamasapano
April 7, 2015
The House Committee on Public Order and Safety, together with the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, again, and in an expression of utmost loyalty to President Aquino, voted to reject the Makabayan bloc’s* motion for the House of Representatives to officially submit to the President 20 questions regarding his actions on the Mamasapano debacle.
Why the congresspersons chose to reject the motion despite the Palace’s proclamations that it is ready to answer questions regarding Aquino’s role in the debacle is not really a mystery. After all, the House leadership under Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is not exactly known for its political integrity and independence of mind. With its spirited defense of the pork barrel system and its rejection of impeachment complaints despite clear bases, we all know where the current House leadership’s loyalties lie.
But what where the questions that the progressive solons wanted to ask to the President that his party-mates in Congress refuse to accept? Here are the 20:
1. Why did you authorize or allow the participation of then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus even though you were fully aware that he was already suspended at that time?
2. If he were only an “expert adviser,” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with PNP OIC Espina and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Catapang and that he did not follow said order?
3. Why didn’t you, as the commander-in-chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the Special Action Force (SAF), instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?
4. When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered the SAF director Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?
5. Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed the latter to head the operation?
6. What did you and Purisima talk about during the January 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, “Sabihan mo na ang dalawa [referring to Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Gen. Espina] kapag andun na. Ako na ang bahala kay Catapang”?
7. How many times did you text Purisima and other officials about the operation in Mamasapano before, during and after January 25? Could you provide the House of Representatives the contents of all these messages? Was there any instance that you made voice calls to Purisima and other officials on the matter? We also request for the transcripts of these voice calls.
8. You said that you were irked at Purisima because you could not make sense of his conflicting texts. Why did you not call him to clarify matters? Why did you not call other officials such as Gen. Catapang and AFP generals involved in the rescue operations or even Sec. Roxas or Gen. Espina to know what was happening?
9. You were aware of the probability of “pintakasi,” that the SAF troopers will be attacked by any and all armed locals in the area. Why did you not order coordination with the Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) even just hours before the operation was launched?
10. Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Commander Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero testified that you were getting updates throughout the day at his headquarters in Zamboanga. Who were the officials updating you and what was the information they gave you?
11. With all the updates / information you receive in the morning about the SAF engagements, why did you not get the sense of urgency to mobilize necessary forces and resources to reinforce and rescue the SAF commandos?
12. What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if there were any? Did you issue any pronouncement to them or any one to consider the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in implementing the rescue operations?
13. Were you aware that the CCCH was working towards a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting? When were you informed of this?
14. Did you give any orders to stand down? Did you not give order/s to Catapang and/or Pangilinan not to fire the artillery in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where the 55th SAC were engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?
15. Why was there no air support during the Mamasapano operation? Were you aware that two helicopters and two airplanes that could have provided air support to the SAF were deployed to secure you in Zamboanga ?
16. What can you say about Napeñas’s statement that you left them hanging (“iniwan kami sa ere“) and that this is the highest form of betrayal? Gen. Napenas claims that the agreement in the Jan. 9 meeting was “time on target.” Did you expressly disapprove “time on target coordination” and ordered Director. Napenas to coordinate with the AFP one day or more before the operations?
17. Why did you say, in response to a question after your first speech on January 28, that Purisima “was involved up to the point in time, directly, that he was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman,” when facts show that he was actively involved in the planning and actual execution of Oplan Exodus while suspended?
18. Why did you allow US intervention in the operation – from the planning, funding, training, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance), and during the very conduct of the operation, as is obvious from the presence of six Americans at the tactical command post? Why did you find it necessary to work with the US, but not with DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP Chief Gen. Espina, or AFP Chief Gen. Catapang?
19. What is your legal basis for allowing this intervention by the US military in a PNP law enforcement operation – a purely internal matter – even though this is not covered by the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement?
20. What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in the Mamasapano operations?
*Makabayan bloc is composed of representatives from progressive party-list groups: Reps. Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna; Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela; Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis; Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers; and Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan.