By Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon.com
MANILA, Philippines - After the resignation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director-General Alan Purisima, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday asked Malacanan Palace the pointed question of who ordered Oplan Exodus, which unfortunately led to the death of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, two weeks ago.
In the transcript of a television interview furnished the media, Marcos said he hopes the Senate probe on Monday and Tuesday of the Mamasapano incident would satisfactorily clarify certain facts that could pave the way for the resumption of hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. But, this would still be followed by hearings from the House.
"We hope to get documents on Monday when the public order committee of Senator Grace Poe begins hearings on Mamasapano. I also hope that the hearings would only be on Monday and Tuesday and there will no more be a third hearing," he told journalists.
Marcos said some resource persons may want to ask for an executive session for security concerns, "and we are willing to give them that just to ferret out the truth."
He was emphatic in saying that the mission to arrest the Federal Bureau of Investigation's wanted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, alias Marwan (with a US$5 million reward for his capture), and Abdul Basit Usman, a local terrorist who carries a $1 million bounty, was simply not a suicide mission and definitely not worth the lives of 44 Special Action Force men and officers, who were all well-trained and well-armed.
As to the investigations to be undertaken by the newly-constituted Board of Inquiry, the Department of Justice, the Commission on Human Rights, the Ombudsman and several other agencies, including a proposed Truth Commission, which he supports, Marcos feared there could be confusion, especially if conflicting conclusions emerge.
Asked if it was a good mission, Marcos flatly said "I don't think that 44 dead (even mutilated) SAF policemen is a good mission at all. I don't know if the arrest or killing of Marwan is even worth the 44 lives of our best-trained policemen."
He enumerated several questions that authorities need to answer: Who gave the go signal for the mission; Why was a suspended PNP Director General (Alan Purisima) even involved in the mission, which he pointed out was clearly a violation of the protocol on his suspension; Why was the plan to extricate the soldiers from the site not even carried out; Why was the operation kept secret from the officer in charge of the Philippine National Police,
He explained the hearings on the constitutional amendments of BBL are continuing because the events in Mamasapano "does not change anything about the constitutionality, or not, of the Bangsamoro Basic Law."
He said as chair of the Local Government Committee that is hearing the BBL, he had to suspend the hearings because of the clear flaws in the basic agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is the basis for BBL.
He said the point of the exercise is not BBL but to institute a system that would bring about true and lasting peace.
"If BBL is crucial to that peace, then by all means we pass it but let us make sure to avoid bloody encounters or armed warfare in Muslim Mindanao -- by including and involving all groups and sectors together for that peace."
As to who should appoint the members of the Truth Commission, Marcos said it will have to be the President, as is the usual practice and the law provides that the commission has to be objective so it has to be independent of the Legislature and the Executive.
He said he has proposed that the commission be somewhat like the jury where no one in the know of BBL, whether pro or con, will be allowed so they won't be pushing their respective ideas/agendas.
"We certainly need somebody who is an expert in police and military matters," Marcos said, adding that he has several people in mind but refrained from naming names so as not preempt the proposed Truth Commission from being formed.
He said the most important thing is for the Truth Commission to be able to gather people with credibility because the result would definitely matter to public opinion.