Interview with Senate Media
Q: Sir how do you find the BOI report?
Sen. Bongbong: I find it credible, objective and factual. Ever since I read the PNP Board of Inquiry report, the first thing that struck me was that, kung maalala nyo Lunes dapat lalabas yung BOI report tapos merong salaysay ang Pangulo sa mga religious leaders the same time, tapos sinabi ng PNP na humingi ng 3 araw na extension. Maraming nangangamba na sinasabi na baka dahil dun sa statement ng Pangulo papalitan nila yung kanilang report to coincide with the President’s statements.
But they did not do that at all dahil hindi talaga sumang-ayon dun sa mga sinabi ni Pangulong Aquino. As a matter of fact they contested or contradicted many of the things that the President said. We have to give credit where credit is due. Gen. Magalong came up with a good report, which I believe was based on the facts and the findings from their investigation. And the reason I say that is marami sa kanyang conclusion ay pareho dun sa aking sarili— wala pa yung committee report sa public order, pero as a personal opinion, as a personal judgment, yun din ang aking mga naging conclusions e, dun sa kanilang report. So we have to recognize that they have remained independent, and that they have kept close to the facts and hindi sila na sway, hindi sila na-influence ng, I’m sure maraming pwersa that were acting upon the Magalong inquiry. But at least nakita natin na maganda ang kanilang ginawa.
Q: Sir, particularly yung finding that the President broke the chain of command, do you agree with that kasi some senators are ano…?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, I’ve been saying that from the very start, that the reason nagkagulo ay dahil na bypass yung normal chain of command, na bypass ang buong command structure ng PNP at gumawa si Pangulong Aquino ng sariling chain of command. At yung chain of command na ginawa nya ay mula sa Pangulo, hanggang kay Gen. Purisima na suspendido at kay Gen. Napenas. So silang tatlo lang ang nagpaplano at nag-uusap tungkol dito. So that is certainly significant.
And I think tama rin, kaya ng sinasabi ko halos pareho yung aming conclusions—at least in certain areas—na yung sinabi ni Gen. Purisima kay Gen. Napenas ‘wag nyong sasabihan muna yung dalawa, ako na ang bahala kay Gen. Catapang’, yun ang inaasahan ni Gen. Napenas na yun ang magiging coordination na ng PNP at saka sa AFP. Pero mukhang dun nagkaroon ng gulo kaya naman hindi nakatulong kaagad yung AFP.
The concept of time on target was also well explained; that the time on target is not a form of coordination. Time on target is a way to inform all the other different agencies, entities, units, as to what is going on with the PNP SAF at the time.
Q: Pero sir papano po mapapanagot si President Aquino for the fault cited in the report?
Sen. Bongbong: There is no way to compel him e dahil the President has….you know the report of the PNP is not very charitable to the President dahil maliwanag na maliwanag na at least in the PNP report sinasabi na alam nya lahat mula nung umpisa, and they took this conclusions from the statement of the President. Dahil ang sinabi ng Pangulo, yung una nyang speech sa SAF families, ang sinabi nya na ilang buwan na namin minomonitor ito. Tapos nasabi nya nga umaga pa lang alam na namin na nakuha na o na-neutralize na si Marwan.
Tapos, kung maaalala nyo sa hearings, sa salaysay ng mga iba’t-ibang opisyal, biglang nawala from the early morning na sinabing patay na si Marwan, hanggang sa 5 o’clock briefing walang makasagot kung sinong nakipag-usap kay Pangulo na tungkol nga dito na may casualty na, may problema na etc.
So mukhang hindi naman ganun. How do we make him answer? I don’t know. Sana naman kailangan naman na kilalanin nya na yan ang inaantay ng taong bayan kung bakit ba, baka may dahilan nga sya kung bakit nya ginawa, that he broke the chain of command?
For all their protestations the one heading it from the PNP was still Allan Purisima at yung kanyang mga sinasabi na advice that was considered orders ni Gen. Napenas. Because alam nya na malapit sila ni Pangulo and they were in private meetings.
Kaya nga kinikilala ni Gen. Napenas ang authority ni Gen. Purisima ay dahil nakikita nyang pinagkakatiwalaan ng Pangulo at dun nanggagaling yung order tungkol nga sa Oplan Exodus. Although there is no way for us to compel him, hindi nga nagbigay ng kahit statement sa BOI ng PNP, there is no way to compel him, we still hope that he can clarify exactly what his role was and what was the reasons? I think his role in the entire Oplan Exodus, the planning and the execution, is clear. But what is the reasoning behind, why?
I always give the President the benefit of the doubt, and I say maybe the President knows somethingthe rest of us do not know and that would have encouraged him to handle this the way that he did? But what is that reason? Now there is no way to keep it secret anymore.
It would also help the peace process kung maipaliwanag nyang mabuti at masabi nya kung bakit nya ginawa, ay makakaunawa tayong lahat. And how this is going to impact the peace process? Bring back the confidence—yung tiwala ng tao—sa peace process.
Q: Sir will you be holding hearings on the BBL during the break?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes, I have just scheduled a hearing for April 13 to specifically look at the ceasefire mechanisms in case of encounter like the Mamasapano. It took 11 hours from the time that the MILF commanders were first informed na yung kanilang katapat, na yung nakikipagsabakan sila ay gobyerno, hanggang nagkaraoon ng ceasefire, 11 hours yun. Yun ang gusto kong bawasan, kung magkaroon uli ng ganyan sinasabi ko nga yung 11 hours, gawin nating 11 minutes.
But to proceed on that hearing, on that subject, I really need to see the MILF report, which they mysteriously sent to Malaysia instead of the Philippines, hanggang ngayon hindi ko maintindihan.
Q: Hindi raw nila ibibigay?
Sen. Bongbong: Hindi nila ibibigay, ang sabi nila sa DoJ hingin nyo sa Malaysia, wag nyong hingin sa amin.
Q: So ang pag-asa nyo na lang mahingi ng DoJ yung….?
Sen. Bongbong: Sinusulatan ko ang OPAP ang DOJ ang MILF, ang monitoring team, at saka yung Malaysian na team, na hinihingi ko nga ang kopya.
Q: Me nag-respond na sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Wala pa. Baka maipaliwanag ninyo sa akin bakit ganun ang ginawa nila, sa Malaysia sila nauna…? Because daw they have ano, that is the procedure. Pero ano ba namang mawawala? At saka ipinangako ni….
Q: Sir will you make it a condition before you start the hearing?
Sen. Bongbong: There is no point on my having a hearing, walang silbi yun na magka-hearing na hindi natin alam ang nangyari sa MILF side. That’s the whole point nga, yung coordination ng MILF at saka ng PNP at saka AFP, pagka nangyari may mission na ganito high value target, etc., kung papanong gagawin. What went wrong? We cannot find out what went wrong kung wala yung report ng MILF.
Kasi sa government side alam natin mga tanghali pa lang pinagwi-withdraw na yung AFP kasi sinasabi na na meron nang ceasefire. Pero ang MILF tuloy pa rin ang paglaban nila, ang putukan nila. So we have to find out anong nangyari dun? Bakit yung coordination hindi naging maganda? Bakit tuloy pa rin yung putukan ninyo, bakit tuloy pa rin ang pagbabaril, pagpapatay ninyo sa government…(troops)?
Q: Sir yung CCCH findings are not enough?
Sen. Bongbong: No, the CCCH can only tell us about the coordinating effort between the CCCH, Republic of the Philippines, and the side of the MILF. But what happened on the ground; what did the commander say? Why did it not stop. Why when they were tol that these were government troops hindi pa natigil ang putukan.
Which also brings us to another point that was raised in the BOI—the Board of Inquiry. Na sinasabi nila na handa nang magpaputok ang AFP ng artillery nung umaga pa lang ng Linggo pero pinigilan sila dahil nga meron nang ceasefire process na ginagawa. And that’s something, meron kaming mga naririnig na ganun. Pano nangyari yun? Dahil kung nagpaputok ang AFP nung umaga ng white phosporus, ay malamang na nag-atrasan na yung pareho—both on the government side and on the MILF, BIFF, PAG side—sabay-sabay pwede na silang mag-atrasan, dahil maliwanag na nagpaputok. So that’s another thing we have to look into further. E yung kanilang annexes ang lalaki, andadami, hindi ko pa nabasa lahat e.
Q: So in short sir kung walang report from MILF walang April 13 hearing?
Sen. Bongbong: There’s no point. Alam na natin yung PNP, alam na natin yung AFP, papano natin aayusin yung coordination sa MILF kung hindi natin alam kung anong nangyari?
Q: Sir kung me dumating po from MILF? Me ininvite po ba kayong MILF?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, the AHJAG, the CCCH, and of course, Chairman Iqbal.
Q: Not enough sir kung pumunta sila? Kailangan me report talaga sila?
Sen. Bongbong: Kasi ang proseso dyan is babasahin mo yung report at magtatanong ka tungkol sa report sa kanila. It would be much, much easier. Ba’t pa sila gumawa ng report kung hindi naman nila ipapakita?
But it’s really important, for the process, for us to be able to find ano yung mga pagbabago na kailangang gawin. We cannot do it without knowing the MILF side?
Q: Sir, walang way na ma-compel ng Senate…subpeona sir?
Sen. Bongbong: If I’m forced to, I’ll subpeona.
Q: Kino-consider nyo yun sir?
Sen. Bongbong: But how can we subpeona a report that is in Malaysia? But we will try. I mean—that’s why I’m writing—kung me maisip pa kayo you tell me. Pero lima na yung sinusulatan ko. Sino pa ba ang pwede nating sulatan, kung pwede pa? Basta’t I’m trying my best to get a copy of the MILF report.
Now if we are forced….I don’t see a good reason why they won’t give it to us e. Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit (hindi nila ) ibibigay sa atin. I cannot see a good reason why they will not give it to us. Hindi naman siguro sila magre-refuse but I don’t know what the reasons are behind. And binigay lang na reason ng MILF ay yun naman talaga ang agreed upon procedure sa ceasefire.
Q: Sir, going back to sa BOI report, although puro tactical level it seems ang na-discuss, na miss ata yung point na mga MILF, PAGS and BIFF ang talagang nakapatay at bumaril sa SAF 44? Sino pang pwedeng mag-determine nun. Kasi right now we are blaming Pnoy, Purisima, Napenas, pero nobody is making MILF accountable for the killings?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, that’s another question that has to be answered. But that is outside—kung tutuusin—that is outside the scope of BBL, you know, trying to remain focused. But of course those questions will arise. Ilang beses na nating napag-usapan yan, kahit maganda ang maging peace agreement between the Republic of the Philippines saka MILF kung nandyan pa yung so-called private armed groups, yung Abu Sayyaf, yung BIFF, hindi pa rin magkakaroon ng kapayapaan? So how is that going to work in the general concept of the peace process?
That brings us to the questions on the concept of this entire BBL—is this really in fact what will bring us peace?
Q: Sir considering yung sinabi ni Tina, so incomplete yung BOI report?
Sen. Bongbong: No, no, no. It’s complete. Kasi ang BOI report naman hindi tungkol sa concept of peace process e. Ang kanilang ano lang talaga, anong nangyari dun sa amin? Hindi natin hinihingi sa pulis, ano sa palagay nyo dapat bang isama ang BIFF sa peace process? Dapat ba isama sa Abu Sayyaf, o dapat i-isolate? That’s not what they were sent to investigate. What they were investigating is what were the events surrounding Mamasapano that led up to the Massacre; and what were the mistakes made, what were the lessons learned so that we do not do that again.
Q: Sir my question is on the premise on the criminal liability of the MILF; not on its impact in the BBL?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, in terms of criminal…the DOJ would have to determine that. But again, that is one of the things, yun ang mga hiningi natin sa MILF noon na sasabihin nila sa atin kung sino yung mga commander na involved; kung bakit ba hindi sumunod, all of those things. Pero so far walang cooperation sa MILF sa mga hinihingi natin na ganun.
The DOJ is going to have to conduct their own investigation as to who is criminally-liable. But again without the MILF report hindi nila magagawa yun.
Q: They can’t, even with the NBI?
Sen. Bongbong: I’m sure kaya nila with their own, at saka kukuha sila ng intelligence sa AFP at saka sa PNP. Pero without the MILF side mas lalong magiging mahirap ang imbestigasyon nila. Mas maganda sana kung tumutulong ang MILF—and to be seen to be helping because partners in peace daw tayo so they should be helping. This has now become part of the peace process.
Q: Sir yung sinasabi sa BOI report that the AFP did not send immediate help because of too much emphasis dun sa peace process, nakita nyo rin ba yung sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Yun na nga ang sinasabi ko e. Actually meron akong mga kausap na mga kaibigan ko sa AFP, handa naman daw silang magpaputok nung umaga pa, yung mahiwagang white phosphorus. Pero hindi nila magawa dahil sinabihan sila na meron nang ceasefire na in place, kaya wag na.
As a matter of fact, yung AFP mga noon time at saka one o’clock ng hapon ay pinapaatras na yung tropa nila. Kung maaalala nyo me isang unit na me pinuntahan na isang SAF unit na sinabi pumasok tayo, tapos sinabi nung SAF unit, hindi, ang order sa amin maiwan dito. Pero after a while, by about one o’clock umatras na yung unit na yun dahil ang order naman sa kanila galing sa AFP ay umatras na kayo dahil may ceasefire na in process na, na magtitigilan na yung putukan. So that was what happened on the government side. What happened on the MILF, BIFF side, para malaman natin kung bakit hindi sabay-sabay yung pag-ceasefire; yung order ng AFP at saka yung order sa kabila na mag-atrasan na?
Q: Sir, na mention nyo yung personal conclusion nyo almost the same dun sa BOI?
Sen. Bongbong: Well yung certain aspects, especially dun sa yun na nga, kung ano yung nangyari.
Q: So ini-expect nyo yun din yung magiging committee report?
Sen. Bongbong: I have no idea. Syempre nag-uusap kami ni Sen. Grace, pero on the details, ano. I think this week a draft will probably be circulate sa amin. And we’ll see. Sabagay, we more or less agree e, on the facts. Not only Sen. Grace but amongst us senators. Kasi kahit papano, after the executive sessions, we would sit and talk to each other informally, anong tingin nyo? What do you think of what he said? What do you think of the latest information. Parang ganun na nga, medyo we’re in general agreement as to what happened.
Q: Sir what do you think of the argument that the concept of the chain of command does not apply to the PNP? Kasi parang yun ang lumalabas na defense, sir?
Sen. Bongbong: If you do hot have a chain of command, in a uniformed service like the PNP, you cannot operate, you cannot have a police force that has no chain of command. It simply will not work. Sino ang mag-uutos? Sino ang susunod? Sino ang susundan?
That is a totally illogical contention—that you can have a police force without a chain of command.
Q: Sir sabi AFP lang daw yung me concept ng chain of command?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes, but there is an analogous concept in the chain of command. Me ranggo e. Ang sarhento kailangang sumunod sa heneral; ang private kailangang sumunod sa lieutenant; ang major kailangang sumunod sa colonel, hindi pwedeng hindi. Kahit kayo, in your offices, me chain of command. Sino yung editor nyo kailangang sundan nyo, di ba. There’s a chain of command, otherwise it chaos.
Q: And then sir there’s also the view that it’s the President’s prerogative not to follow that chain of command…?
Sen. Bongbong: I disagree. There is no prerogative. The Commander in chief is precisely the commander in chief because he’s at the top of the chain of command, by definition. Kung hindi, hindi na sya commander in chief.
Tanggalin natin yung phrase na chain of command. Kailangan me heirarchy, ganun na lang ang gawin natin. In any organization, be it business, be it military—any organization—there has to be a heirarchy. And that heirarchy has to be very clear as to who, sino yung nagdedesisyon at kung sino yung susunod sa desisyon na yun. You cannot operate any organization without that.
Now if the President chose to bypass what is the standard chain of command, he must have very good reasons to do it. What were those reasons? That’s what we’ve been asking from the beginning. Why did you bypass the normal chain of command? Maybe you have a very good reason, we would like to hear it.
Q: Tuloy pa rin yung April 13 kung wala yung MILF report sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Probably not, probably not. I hope we can find a way. Papano, wala kaming pag-uusapan. Ang tanong dyan e, di ba hearing, bakit nangyari ito, ano yung babaguhin natin? E hindi pa rin natin alam: ano yung nangyari sa inyo? Maybe we can still do it.
But I stand by my first answer, kung walang MILF report baka hindi matuloy. Wag naman sana. Matagal pa naman e, after Holy Week pa e.
Q: So parang condition sir yung MILF report?
Sen. Bongbong: Hindi naman condition but I really think it’s necessary. I don’t want to make it a condition but I want them to understand, it’s necessary for us to hear from them to make the changes that we want.
Q: Sir pati yung Sulu, Zamboanga hindi muna tuloy?
Sen. Bongbong: A hindi, itutuloy na namin as soon as the fighting is over.
Q: Hanggang kelan ito sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Basta isasama ko kayo lahat. Sabi ng AFP malapit na raw matapos ang offensive nila.
Q: Kung may retaliation yung kabila?
Sen. Bongbong: Sinong ire-retaliate nila, di tayo?
Q: Mga June nga sir?
Sen. Bongbong: For us right now it’s just security concern. Kasi ipinangako natin dun sa kanila, umaasa sila e. So right now what we are still trying to schedule is the Jolo-Zamboanga: that’s one trip, Jolo on one day, Zamboanga on the next. And then the April 13 concern on the ceasefire. Then we had scheduled hearings beforehand to listen to IP’s and the Sultanate. Because nagreklamo ang pareho, all the Sultanate said hindi man kami kinausap. The IP’s also said, kulang ang nasa Bangsamoro tungkol sa kanila.
Q: That will be part of BBL hearing na sir..?
Sen. Bongbong: Oo, BBL hearing na yan.
Q: Sir anong recourse natin, how can we o make the President speak? Di ba he can’t be compelled?
Sen. Bongbong: Well apparently public opinion is not sufficient. So we cannot compel him to do anything, he’s the President.
Q: So ganun helpless lang tayo?
Sen. Bongbong: Hindi naman, we can get the information —we’re slowly getting the information—from other sources. Sinasasabi ko, itatatanong natin kay Gen. Purisima, itatanong natin kay Gen. Espina, itatanong natin kay Gen. Catapang, itatanong natin kung kani-kanino: anong sabi ng Pangulo? Pinakamadali di tumayo sya, humarap sya sa tao, at sabihin nya, etong nangyari, etong ginawa ko, at etong dahilan kung bakit ko ginawa.
Q: So hindi na pwedeng magreklamo yung Malacanang na hindi nakuha yung side ni Pnoy, like yung sa PNP-BOI, hindi raw nakuha nina Magalong yung…
Sen. Bongbong: He chose not to appear. At least yung sa PNP, kahit hindi sila nag-appear sa BOI nagbigay sila ng sworn statement. Yung plano noon, siguro yung best choice na natin yung tinatawag na letters rogatory. That is a legal term, yung court will send letters rogatory—mga tanong—tapos para sagutin nya.
Q: Di ba you were saying na pag walang MILF report you could not proceed with the hearing?
Sen. Bongbong: I cannot with that hearing.
Q: What about the possibility of other senators getting the BBL from your committee?
Sen. Bongbong: That’s fine. Ako..all of this should be made public, the public is waiting to know.
Q: So okay lang kunin ni Drilon?
Sen. Bongbong: Yun na nga, good idea. Hingin natin kay SP na sya ang humingi para me…
Q: Iba yung sinasabi nya, MILF report…
Sen. Bongbong: Kung yung sa PNP e, nai-publicise nila, yung decision immediately after pag-release. Sinasabi na kay Sec. Mar ang desisyon kung ipa-publicize, wala pang isang araw nag decide na sya na na ipublicize. So surely on the MILF side dapat naman ganun din.
Q: Sir kung hindi makukuha yung MILF report malabo yung June 30 target to pass the BBL?
Sen. Bongbong: Maghahanap tayo ng ibang paraan para makuha yung impormasyon na yun. It will not be as thorough and exhaustive and informative kung wala yung MILF report. We can still try, it’s the same thing like the President, we can try and find the information out from the people surrounding him. Pero pinakamaganda yung MILF mismo ang magsabi.
Q: Di ba ang maganda sir ang buong Senate, through the Senate leadership, will ask for the MILF report? Possible ba yun?
Sen. Bongbong: Sige, iisipin natin baka pwedeng gawin yan. The senators were also wondering kung bakit nga hindi napunta sa amin. Kung maaalala ninyo hindi ba hiningi natin kay Chairman Iqbal sa hearing, sabi nya it’s 90 percent finished, malapit nang matapos. The implication, what we inferred, was that he was going to give it to the Senate.
I was very surprised, very surprised, why he sent it to Malaysia, tapos yung sagot pa dun nyo na kunin, wag nyong kunin sa amin.
Q: Sir are you willing na gumawa nung ano, sense of the Senate….?
Sen. Bongbong: Ngayon nasabi nyo na sa akin e di baka gawin ko. Alam nyo naman ako, lagi naman akong nakikinig sa inyo?
Q: Sir through resolution?
Sen. Bongbong: Let me think about it. Syempre there’ll be greater moral suasion kung buong Senado e. Okay, thank you.
Q: Me report na Malaysian daw sina Iqbal kaya sa Malaysia ipinadala?
Sen. Bongbong: Yan ang sagot nung tinanong sa kanila, bakit nyo ipinadala sa Malaysia? Sabi nila according to the ceasefire that is really the procedure. But you know, extenuating circumstances na ito e, nagkaroon na ng massacre e. Di sana para makatulong, ibigay sa atin.
Q: Sino pa yung yung isang Malaysian, dalawa yun e. Si Iqbal at saka si Murad? Kaya dun ibinigay yung report?
Sen. Bongbong: Hindi, si Murad matagal nang kilala yan. Maybe it’s time to examine the role of the Malaysians in this entire peace process. Why are they there. Why is this happening na ang board of inquiry ng MILF pumupunta sa Malaysia? So, umaamo sila sa Malaysia, hindi sa Pilipinas.
Q: Sir kung mapatunayang Malaysian, wala silang karapatang mag-represent sa peace negotiations with the government?
Sen. Bongbong: Dapat nandun sila sa Malaysian panel, dun sa Third Party. They have to join the Third Party because ang MILF is essentially a Filipino organization—yan, kaya nagkakagulo-gulo e. Sana walang question tungkol dito kung ipinadala yung kopya to any agency of the Philippine government, up to and including the Senate